Too Smooth for Versailles : Anish Kapoor Controversy

June 6, 2015

There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Anish Kapoor's exhibition at the Château de Versailles since it was initially announced back in December 2014. The exhibition is yet to be opened but one of his installations at the beautiful French palace is already causing controversy and a media debate, as The Guardian reports. The subject of controversy is a massive still sculpture Dirty Corner installed in the gardens of Versailles, a sculpture that represents in the artist's own words "the vagina of the queen taking power".

Versailles Palace, Paris, France , news, media, 2015
Versailles Palace, courtesy of lonelyplanet

Vagina of the Queen at Versailles

The vagina sculpture is a large funnel made of steel and set up among the numerous scattered stones. In an interview for the French Le JDD, Anish Kapoor has described it as "the vagina of the queen" instantly starting a debate of its decency and an outrage among the more conservative parts of the Franch society. There are calls for boycott of the exhibit both on Twitter and various blogs and even Versailles's mayor François de Mazières has expressed his disapproval with a tweet announcing that the artist has slipped up with his work.

However, many people stood up to support the Indian-born London-based artist including the members of the media. For instance Le Figaro a national French newspaper has concluded that the controversy will only bring more people to the show while Le Parisian called the artist the "genius provocateur'. In The Guardian's column dedicated to the controversy, Jonathan Jones wonders why the country that gave The Origin of the World to the art world all of the sudden has a problem with vaginas.

Versailles, Paris, France, news, media
Anish Kapoor - Dirty Corner Sculpture, 2015, courtesy of ibtimes

Controversy at Versailles Palace

The ravishing Versailles palace was built by the Sun King Louis XIV in Paris and represents a symbol of the monarchy downfall and the French revolution. Versailles palace has hosted quite a few exhibitions over the years and Anis Kapoor is not the first contemporary artist to exhibit at the Château de Versailles. The palace had already hosted works of Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami which caused disapproval of those who felt that presenting contemporary art is disrespectful to the Versailles and that contemporary artworks simply do not correspond the 17th century surrounding. But Anish Kapoor's artworks definitely fit the scenery as he is the first contemporary artist whose sculptures deal with the powerful legacy of monarchist rule and the bloodshed that followed. The Shooting into the Corner installation set up at Versailles tennis courts for example, displays a cannon that shoots out blood-red wax into the wall as a reference to the blood and guts spilled in the French revolution and in contemporary world. Anish Kapor has admitted that his pieces were never meant to be decorative. They revolve around sex and violence and were meant to evoke, provoke and to upset the perfect symmetry of André Le Nôtre’s beautiful Château de Versailles garden's design.

 Versailles, Paris, France, news, media
Anish Kapoor : Shooting Into the Corner, 2009. courtesy of widewalls

Anish Kapoor at Versailles

Despite the vagina controversy exhibition’s organizers are thrilled to have Anish Kapoor’s artworks at Versailles palace and are expecting significant visits. London based artist is very popular in France and his Levitian installation that was set up at Paris's Grand Palais in 2011 had attracted over 250 000 visitors. Other work presented at Versailles will include the double-convex mirrors that will provide the viewers with the upside-down views of the gardens, a giant whirlpool, and a labyrinth resembling a network of human arteries that will be installed at the gardens of Versailles. The exhibition at Château de Versailles in Paris will open on Tuesday June 9th and will run till Novembar 1st, 2015.

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Featured images: Anish Kapoor at Versailles Pallace and Anish Kapoor - Dirty Corner Sculpture, 2015, courtesy of Wall Street Journal

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