Jeff Koons vs. Louis XIV [Pop Culture Smackdown]


We told you a while back about a kitschy Jeff Koons exhibit that was wowing the crowds at Versailles (the New York Times has a fantastic slideshow of it here), but as it turns out, everyone in France doesn’t find his inflatable lobster as cute as we thought they did. UnBeige reports that a relative of Louis XIV — Charles-Emmanuel de Bourbon-Parme — is headed to the French state court to try to get an extension of the exhibit canceled because he finds it a “profanization” of the work of his royal forefather, the Sun King. He’s also not thrilled that Koons was once married to Ilona Staller, a famous Italian porn star known as La Cicciolina (“Cuddles”).

Artinfo notes that this isn’t the first time the temporary exhibition has courted controversy. When it opened back in September, a dozen protesters gathered at Versailles because they believed displaying an American artist’s work there was disrespectful to their French heritage. “‘This is like a burglary,’ said demonstrator Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky, who said he represented a union of French writers. ‘They want to replace Louis XIV with Jeff Koons. They want to replace France with the United States.’ He then pulled out balloons with names that rhyme with Koons written on them and popped them one by one.”

Can you imagine Americans acting this way if someone was staging a Jean Bazaine retrospective at Monticello? Is it wrong that we’re jealous of their fierce passion for both country and history? Or the fact that they use both symbolic props and rhyming techniques when they protest? Brilliant. We almost hope that they manage to burst the art superstar’s brightly-colored balloon.

Viva la French!