When I read that people were protesting the display of Jeff Koons’ work at the chateau de Versailles, I sat there waiting for the punch line to sink in because, really, how could that not be a joke. The artist and site couldn’t be better suited.
Versailles’ ostentation is the perfect backdrop for Koons’ kitsch sculptures. Both take ornamentation over the top, whether gilding everything in sight with silver and gold, or making life-size sculptures of balloon dogs in metallic hot pink. Though centuries divide the two, they both resonate with Rococo excess.
They both are exuberant, lighthearted and fun. Versailles was originally intended as a garden pleasure palace away from it all, and its visitors put play and fantasy first. Koons’ work is the same. Tacky in the best possible way, his work transports low art and makes it glittery and lively. Part of me thinks that if the Sun King was alive today, he’d not only be pleased Koons’ work is on display in his house, he’d hire the artist on the spot.
Image above courtesy of clemmm8/Flickr