Which Is More Vulgar?

The Arts

To be honest, a visit to Versailles is not high on my list of things to do before I die. The sheer aching vulgarity of such vast cathedrals of wealth largely leaves me cold, although I have great admiration for the craft-skills involved in their manufacture.

Now, a descendant of King Louis XIV is seeking a court order to halt a modern exhibition by Takashi Murakami at Versailles because it sullies “supreme good French taste”. Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon-Parme (what a biscuity name) launched his legal action to rid the palace of the fibreglass cartoon figures and giant Buddha statues, calling for “respect of the château and of his ancestors”.

He says the exhibition is grotesque. “Versailles was conceived with the idea of displaying the essence of supreme good French taste. These works undermine the unity of style and the essence of the museum. That is why this is a provocation.”

Personally, I think they appear to complement each other wonderfully. For or against?

Related book: ‘The White Cutter’ by David Pownall – the mesmerising story of the stone masons who built French cathedrals.

11 comments on “Which Is More Vulgar?”

  1. Yeah, he did the same thing last year with a Jeff Koons exhibition. He’s being supported in his protest by “apolitical” sympathizers, coincidentally affiliated with the Front National. All over the world, the nutcases on the fringes are getting restless.

  2. Steve says:

    Wasn’t there a revolution in France a while back? You know, no more Royalty?
    What a twerp.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    He’s not claiming special rights, just the right of any citizen to protest improper use of national treasures. Versailles isn’t my style, either, but surely there’s a better place for this style of art. Although … that vase thing does fit in not too badly. The French sense of humour is not very well developed.

  4. Steve says:

    I’m sure you’re right Helen.
    But he’s still a twerp.

  5. BangBang!! says:

    I had to look up “biscuity” in the Urban Dictionary – sorry!!

    I’ve only been to Paris once and I hated it. Didn’t go to Versailles though. I know almost literally nothing about “Art” but I quite like that tree in the pic. Probably makes me a pleb!!

  6. > The French sense of humour is not very well developed.

    Yeah, obviously, thinking such exhibitions mar the pomp and majesty of Versailles is far more humorous.

  7. LOLITA says:

    Versailles and the cathedrals of France are the height of the Western civilization, Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon-Parme is right about the supreme good French taste, I share his opinion, but at the same time I would not compromise the tradition of the marvelous art patrons of the court legendary for their sense of unlimited and extravagantly generous capacity for embracing the most lavish artistic expressions of their contemporaries.

  8. Steppenwolf says:

    Versailles was new once and was criticised as being vulgar and ostentatious. A place like that represents many things – its a expression of culture; of power – and its abuse – but it is very beautiful to our eyes now. Who knows, plastic sculpture might well be ‘high art’ in the 22nd century. You might think that this sculpture doesn’t look that attractive in those surroundings – but that’s a question of individual taste. I’m glad there is no democracy in art – in any art – nor should there ever be. If there were then museums and galleries would be full of images of dogs playing poker and tearful clowns. They said the same things about Warhol – Cezanne – Picasso – of every notable artist. Of course art pushes the boundaries and that means it will appear unfamiliar and strange – which just might be an indicator that it really is art.

  9. Helen Martin says:

    I think I’m apologising to the entire French nation for my international insensitivity. I haven’t ever been to Paris but I don’t know how a person could “hate” it, any more than you could hate Rome or Madrid or Quebec City, come to that. (I loved Quebec City.)

  10. Sisi says:

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the most vulgar one of all? The Prince. The decision on what to exhibit as the palace is not for him to make. The Prince is not the director of the museum; he is a shameless self-promoter.

    FWIW, my mother, a minor royal whose taste generally runs to the austere and minimalist, owns two Louis XIV chairs which I have always considered to be in ghastly taste and hope not to inherit.

  11. Helen Martin says:

    Tastes change and so does the way we try to impress others. Versailles and its furnishings are all about impressing visitors with the power and wealth of the monarchy. We don’t like having our noses rubbed in it that way and now we’re free to say so. Two Louis XIV chairs can sit happily in a minimalist environment without forcing us to bow and scrape even mentally. Think of them as a decorative flourish – like our former prime minister doing a pirouette behind Queen Elizabeth’s back.

Comments are closed.