Thursday, September 11, 2008

Double Decadence?

I just read an article in the New York Times about a new Jeff Koons Versailles.

At first, I immediately thought I wouldn't even like the thought of this exhibition. After all, a Baroque scholar would want to have Versailles shown in its pure, untainted decadence. And if I was there, I probably would get upset seeing Koons' kitschy, flashy work all over the palace.

But I think that this exhibition poses a really interesting idea. Koons' work is a commentary on mass-production, pop culture, kitsch, and consumption. For example, Koons' sculpture Michael Jackson and Bubbles is created in the style of cheap porcelains that can be bought at the dollar store.

I am especially intrigued by this idea of consumption in regards to Versailles. In this sense, wouldn't Koons' works seem appropriate at Versailles palace, which is the epitome of European consumption and decadence? These kitsch sculptures even bring up associations of sweat shops, "MADE IN CHINA," and cheap labor - all which can tie into the oppression of the common people that took place in seventeenth and eighteenth century France.

Of course, I'm pretty sure that Louis XIV would never have owned anything kitsch. The decor in his home would have been a little bit more, um, pricey.

If you read this article, make sure to check out the photo gallery too. What do people think?

*J made an interesting comparison tonight: both Koons' art and Versailles are quintessential examples of things that are "over the top" - Koons in his ridiculously large balloon animals or stuffed animals cum garden sculptures, and Versailles in, well, every way imaginable.