Exhibition: Venet à Versailles | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Exhibition: Venet à Versailles

June 13, 2011

Exhibition: Venet à Versailles

Bernar Venet, 86.5° Arc x 16 at the Place d’Armes. Photograph by Philippe Chancel. Palace of Versailles garden.
Versailles has been sparking controversy as well as the delight of art enthusiasts with their contemporary art exhibitions.  Previously they hosted a variety of installations by Jeff Koons,  Xavier Veilhan and Takashi Murakami.  The centuries old palace will now feature works by artist Bernar Venet.

Bernar Venet, Euf lignes obliques at Marly Estate. Photograph from the Archives Bernar Venet, New York. Marly Estate.
Venet is known for his monumental sculptures and the works he has planned for the palace are no exception.  He has designed custom works of art to fill the wide spaces and gardens.  With so many open areas to view from various perspectives, the large scale sculptures will constantly change as one approaches and moves around them.  They will frame and showcase elements of the palace giving visitors a unique view of the space and existing details.

The scale of his work prevents pieces from being shown within the chateau, but they will pepper the grounds and gardens.

I am thinking about the sunrises and sunsets, and the golden light that steeps the Corten steel in red and brown hints. The curves on my sculptures will contrast with the angular geometry in the gardens, and espouse the circular edges around the Basin d’Apollon and Grand Canal. 
-Bernar Venet
 In short, his works intend to enhance and compliment the views so familiar to visitors of the palace.

Berner Vernet, Effondrement : 225.5° Arc x 16 at the Apollo Bassin. Photograph by Philippe Chancel. Palace of Versailles 
The exhibition will be on from June 1 through November 11, with eleven works to see, and it is free! Would  love to hear your impressions if you do get to see the works.
Exhibition website 


  1. THANK GOD this is not a permanent exhibition!!! My friends and I saw these at Versailles and were totally disgusted--they don't enhance the view whatsoever! Perhaps if they were done in wood, or glass, or ANYTHING else... but the rusted metal is so ugly! I was disappointed to see them there.

  2. Is nothing sacred!?
    When will people stop celebrating
    this sort of metallic grafitti.
    It's bad enough that we have to see it in our century let alone imposing it on Versailles.
    What about tourists from far
    distant locales that travel to Versailles and have their photos and memories forever ruined by such monstrosities of bad taste.
    I presume the powers that be could
    care less and likely look down their noses at tourists and anyone else who is not enthralled by their "clever" iconoclastic displays.

  3. @Quinne and @Mark Stone: I think tourists and visitors to Versailles is the matter that causes so much controversy about contemporary art installations held there.

    I like the idea of having contemporary art in such a historic setting, the juxtaposition is very interesting, but I would also like to be able to view the gardens or rooms as they were without the additional artworks when I travel to the site.

    But it is also a great way to get new audiences to visit the palace, and explore all Versailles can offer. It may also motivate visitors during the off seasons.

    Perhaps having a certain location for the contemporary works, like set specific rooms aside as galleries, would appease both sides. It is a debate I find very interesting!

  4. Lauren, I fully understand your point of view but personally, and I emphasize personally, I find such juxtapositons unpleasant, jarring and depressing.

    For example,
    if I went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and some "artist" had temporarily superimposed a moustache on her face I would be put off, even if Picasso had designed the moustache. Although, nowadays, I'm sure many would find the moustache clever and declare that it makes a compelling statement - I would find it offensive and disrespectful to the original artist's creation. (I wonder what LeNotre would think of these metal scraps in his garden.)

    I actually think whoever is behind placing these "works" at famous sites, does so because it obvious very few people would make a special trip to see them elsewhere. By placing these "pieces" at Versailles, thousands are forced to see them whether they like it or not and the artist can delude himself into thinking they are visiting his metal creations.
    In a nutshell, if it takes that kind of ugly distraction and hideous merchandising to attract new visitors, I would frankly rather they stay away. Besides, why should those who truly want to visit Versailles be shortchanged in favor of those who really don't.

  5. I don't do well with juxtapositions....particularly those which defile hallowed ground.

  6. What is it with this fashion for "art" that looks like a stack of rusty trash?

  7. aaah, how unlucky I am! I am about to visit Versailles and was really looking forward to it but I am affraid this will spoil my photos and the atmosphere of the place. I hope there won´t be much of them and I will be able to avoid them.


  8. I just returned from a trip to Versailles. I was disgusted by the rusted "art" in front of the palace. I fear that in future years, critics will claim that our era added nothing of beauty to the world. I wanted to see the beauty of Versailles as it was created. I didn't appreciate having the perfect spot for a photo filled with rusted metal. If I wanted to see a junk yard, I could find plenty of them in America. Louis XIV must be rolling in his grave!

  9. If I had wanted to see a pile of rusted metal, I could have found that in any American junk yard. I fear that future critics will claim that our era added nothing of beauty to the world. It was annoying to have to try to block out these atrocious works of "art" in my photos. I went there to see Versailles as it was created and intended. Louis XIV is surely rolling in his grave.

    And the "powers that be" had better have a wakeup call that without the tourists, they will not be able to afford to keep the palace in its current condition.