Versailles Gets Renovated and New Jean Michel Othoniel Sculpture

Pierre Delavie's canvas being hung to obscure scaffolding at the Palace of Versailles.
Pierre Delavie's canvas being hung to obscure scaffolding at the Palace of Versailles.

During ongoing renovations at the Palace of Versailles, visitors won’t be forced to look at unsightly scaffolding, thanks to the trompe l’oeil work by Pierre Delavie, who has been enlisted to create a lifelike mural of the Dufour Pavillion that will obscure the work. The monumental canvas was hung on July 31, and will remain in place until the work is completed in March of next year.

Both the mural and the rehabilitation of the building are sponsored by Christian Dior, putting a French spin on a growing Italian trend that is seeing private companies, specifically luxury brands, funding restoration projects to public monuments (see artnet News report). Delavie was previously drafted to create a construction-hiding replica of the Versailles facade for the other side of the palace’s Cour Royale in 2011.

Pierre Delavie's mural at the Palace of Versailles depicts models wearing Christian Dior.

Pierre Delavie’s mural at the Palace of Versailles depicts models wearing Christian Dior.

The deceptively artful tarp is not the only artwork to come to Versailles this summer. Jean Michel Othoniel is currently finishing creating Beautiful Dances, three fountain sculptures of 2,000 or so golden blown-glass beads strung along curving steel pipes. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the statues, made in collaboration with landscape architect Louis Benech, stand to become the first permanent artworks to be added to the palace’s gardens in over over 300 years.

A rendering of Jean Michel Othoniel's "Beautiful Dances." Photo: Othoniel Studio.

A rendering of Jean Michel Othoniel’s “Beautiful Dances.” Photo: Othoniel Studio.

Though traditionalists may not be ready for contemporary sculpture to become a permanent addition to the landscape, Versailles president Catherine Pégard stands behind the new work. “Versailles was always a place for creativity and creation,” she told the WSJ. She cited the example of King Louis XIV, arguing that the Sun King “surrounded himself with the greatest artists of his time, and we are continuing that tradition today.” For his part, Othoniel is employing glassblowing in honor of the Venetian artisans Louis XIV brought to Versailles during his day.

The Versailles garden is also currently hosting an exhibition of new sculptures by South Korean artist Lee Ufan (see artnet News report), on view through November.


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