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Text by Philippe Dagen, Jill Gasparina, Laurent Le Bon. Photographs by Cédric Delsaux.
The marvelous chambers of the Château de Versailles boast such overwhelming splendors of décor and craft that it might seem the height of folly to pit the works of any one artist against them. But in fact, such a collaboration turns out to be a formula for great success, when the right artist is given the reins. Jeff Koons managed it in 2008, and in 2010, Japanese Pop impresario Takashi Murakami rose to the challenge. In a grand hall sporting a vaulted ceiling thick with paint and gold stands a snowman like construction, stacked spheres of grinning Technicolor flowers that sprouted gleeful tentacles and antennae, while a blonde manga minx in a near-pornographic maid's costume offers an exuberant gesture of welcome. This is "my Versailles, manga style," Murakami declares, throwing down the gauntlet to those who would preserve Versailles from such glorious and fantastical encounters; "I am the Cheshire cat that welcomes Alice in Wonderland with its diabolic smile, and chatters away as she wanders around the Château." Across 125 color plates, this magnificent volume documents the show's22 works, which included seven new sculptures never before exhibited.
Takashi Murakami was born in Tokyo in 1963. Having studied traditional arts such as Nihonga, he quickly found ways to update their imagery through Japan's burgeoning "otaku" (geek) culture of manga and anime. Murakami's "Superflat" style and emphasis on readily grasp able imagery with an edge has led to a Warhol-esque production plant generating t-shirts, key chains and plush dolls alongside painting and sculpture. He has also collaborated with Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Kanye West. In 2008 Murakami was named one of Time magazine's"100 Most Influential People," and was the only artist to make the list.
In the Salon des Nobles, amidst the fine furniture
designed by Riesener, Takashi Murakami presents The Simple Things – the result of a collaboration with musician and hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams, who makes his first foray into contemporary art with this
piece. Seven sculptures representing everyday objects (soda can, condom, packet of nacho chips) are set in gold with thousands of precious stones. Takashi Murakami devised a brightly lit display case inspired by one of his characters, Mr. Dob.
These everyday objects – “Proust’s madeleine” à la
Pharrell Williams – are displayed in all their majesty
inside Mr. Dob’s mouth. This dazzling set celebrates
the encounter between popular culture and the luxury
world, which Takashi Murakami has often conquered
Featured image and text are reproduced from Murakami Versailles.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Judging by the gorgeous photos in this volume, the juxtaposition of Versailles' gilding and Murakami's whimsical wonders results in a feast for the eyes. Murakami's work - which incorporates colorful, manga-influenced characters and Buddhist symbolism - is a surprisingly natural complement to the pomp of Versailles.
A must-have for any Murakami fan, this volume will also appeal to art lovers who can appreciate the conversation created by showcasing today's masterpieces in the midst of yesteryear's.
FROM THE BOOK
Contemporary art in Japan is like American football in Europe—nobody's interested in it… contemporary art holds no meaning for most Japanese people. They are not interested in it. They do not even need to know what contemporary art is. It contributes nothing to their everyday life. But they know that this thing—contemporary art—is greatly appreciated in the West, particularly in the countries with most culture. Japanese people demonstrate their interest on this point alone. Personally, I would really like to show my compatriots that there is profound meaning in today's art, that it is an extremely rich intellectual experience. At the same time, I present my works throughout the world. I know the rules of the game in contemporary art. Outside the country, I try to follow these rules in order to present Japanese current affairs through my works. From this point of view, for the time being, my works probably do not hold any meaning to Japanese eyes, just as the works of Gutai have no meaning for them. Basically, what I am doing is translating for both sides: on one side, I am trying to show my compatriots what "art" means on a global scale, and on the other, to the foreigners, I am trying to show the essence of our current culture.
--Takashi Murakami in conversation with Philippe Dagen, reproduced from Murakami Versailles.
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