The debate at Versailles

Just over a month ago, I was lazing on a friend’s couch somewhere in the north of France. On the TV was a programme that featured a talk-show host and a group of people in what appeared to be an animated (or heated? I couldn’t tell) argument.

I asked my friend what was it all about.

“They are arguing about an art exhibition in the Palace of Versailles,” said my friend.

A TV debate about art exhibitions? On the screen, a red-faced man was waving his arms in the air while the melee continued in French.

I brushed the thought aside. That is, until days later when I visited the Palace of Versailles myself. After enduring a 45-minute queue outside the main gate (furthermore with an already pre-bought ticket in hand, otherwise, expect to queue for 1 more hour at the ticket booth) under the blazing sun, I was nudged by the human traffic into the palace.

Once a symbol of opulence, decadence and absolute monarchy that sparked the Revolution and changed the history of France forever, the Palace of Versailles is now an invaluable money-making machine for the French tourism industry.

Walked past a few rooms and then the subject of that inexplicable (at least, to me) TV debate became apparent. A mix of disapproving murmurs, amused giggles and appreciative pauses hung over the visitors’ din and camera clicks.


Tongari Kun, by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. At the state's room of the Versailles Palace


Work by Takashi Murakami, inside Chamber Sacre at Palace of Versailles


Works by Takashi Murakami, inside Palace of Versailles

Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami’s works are on display in the Palace of Versailles, till 12 December 2010. That is, if it is not taken down before then:  some people were unhappy enough to file a lawsuit against showing the works there. Guess juxtaposing contemporary art with things of the past is not everybody’s cup of tea.

For me, I got to see two different art styles on one ticket. So I think I got a pretty good deal.


Oval Gold Buddha, by Takashi Murakami. At Versailles courtyard


p.s. Incidentally, Takashi Murakami is no stranger to the French creative scene and has collaborated with luxury label Louis Vuitton.


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