Jeff Koons currently has a retrospective (his first full one) at Versailles--in the actual palace and on the grounds. Though Versailles often installs specific shows (there was one on antique silver when I was there in March), they rarely focus on contemporary artists and if they do, they are shunned to random rooms. Not this time. There is currently a balloon dog in the Hall of Mirrors. Amazing.
The combination of contemporary and historic or classic art (particularly architecture) is something I find fascinating and wonderful. Bizarre, controversial, and epic, shows like this one question progress and changes in aesthetic opinion over time by (mis)placing contemporary pieces in antiquarian settings. The article about the Koons retrospective in Sunday's Times focused primarily on French hatred of the show (there were many demonstrators at its opening), but made one point that really stood out to me: Louis XIV would have loved Balloon Dog. It is new, it is large, it is imposing, flashy, awesome, bizarre, and expensive. It is of the time and of the future. The Sun King, if living now, would indulge in artwork like that of Koons and Damien Hirst (you know that diamond skull would have been in his palace in seconds).
I think the decision to bring contemporary art to spaces like Versailles is forward-thinking and fantastic. I wish I could make it to see this fantastic wedding of old and new, but a trip to Paris by its closing in December is not exactly possible. If you are in Europe at all over the next few months, PLEASE go see this exhibit---and send pictures. I'm thrilled that this is happening.
The NY Times Article (Photos from the NY Times Slideshow)