Anish Kapoor Creates Gruesome, Chaotic, and Mesmerizing Sculptures at Versailles

Kapoor's political artworks celebrate the 300th anniversary of Louis XIV’s death.

On June 7, Anish Kapoor’s newest sculptural interventions will be unveiled at the Palace of Versailles (see Anish Kapoor Tapped for 2015 Solo Show at Versailles).

Kapoor’s installation is part of a series of contemporary art exhibitions at Versailles that began in 2008 with a controversial Jeff Koons show, and has since included artists Xavier Veilhan, Takashi Murakami, and Joana Vasconcelos (see Versailles President Catherine Pégard on Anish Kapoor, Lee Ufan, and the Palace’s Artists).

The six sculptures are installed throughout the André Le Nôtre-designed gardens and the Royal Tennis Court. The works address heavier themes than the previous contemporary shows, which spoke in aesthetic conversation with the palace and gardens.

Chateau Versailles says Kapoor “will bring a more political perspective on power and its depiction at Versailles as it celebrates the tercentenary of Louis XIV’s death.”

From a flayed lawn of blood-red-painted dug ditches, to the remnants of red wax violently shot through a canon into the Royal Tennis Courts, Kapoor’s work confronts France’s most beautiful, yet Monarchical-emblematic space with the bloody flip-side of the same history–while also confronting the viewer with the reversal of their own perception.

Other works will flip Versailles on its head in more literal ways, like the double-convex mirrors giving viewers upside-down views of the gardens, of themselves, and the sky above (now below), re-contextualizing the viewer’s place in relation to the imposing palace.

There’s also a giant black whirlpool (see You Must See Anish Kapoor’s Giant Black Whirlpool at Kochi-Muziris Biennale – It’s Amazing) and a red maze reminiscent of giant human arteries, playing with nature in ways that speak to the man-made manipulation of flora and fauna that makes Versailles so impressive in the first place.

Anish Kapoor is on view in the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles from June – October 2015


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