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Traditionalists fight to stop Murakami Versailles show

Yamashita Yohei/Open access

A planned exhibition by Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami at Louis XIV’s Versailles Palace has stirred up a storm of opposition. Two petitions have gathered over 3,000 signatures each but organisers dismiss them as right-wing reactionaries.


The organisers of one petition, “Versailles mon amour”, refuse to make the names of its 3,500 signatories public because, they claim, “not liking modern art may be disapproved of by future employers”.

The internet petition, which declares “No to the provocation of modern ‘art’ which respects nothing”, was launched by Versailles resident Anne Brassié who hosts a literary broadcast on right-wing radio station Radio Courtoisie.

Brassié takes particular exception to two of Murakami’s works, My lonesome cowboy, which she describes as “the little man with a pointed penis whose sperm forms a lasso” and Hiropon, which she says portrays “a little woman with big breasts whose milk forms a skipping rope”.

Neither of the works are programmed to appear in the exhibition, which is due to open on 14 September.

The other petition, “Against Mangas. Against degrading exhibitions at the Château of Versailles”, is organised by a group which opposed 2008’s show of works by US artist Jeff Koons at the palace.

Among the 3,700 people who have signed it is Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon Parme, a descendant of King Louis XIV who ordered the palace to be built.

His nephew, Charles-Emmanuel de Bourbon Parle, launched a legal action to stop the Koons show and a similar court case is planned against the Murakami exhibition.

The President of the Château, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, claims that the protests come from “fundamentalist far-right and very conservative circles” who want to make the palace “a reliquary of ancien régime France, an inwqrd-looking France hostile to modernity”.

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