For its eleventh edition of contemporary art, the Palace of Versailles invited the Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto to exhibit this autumn in a new emblematic place. In displays on view now through Feburary 17, 2019, the Japanese artist has invested the gardens of the estate of Trianon with inviting art, architecture and performance.
Since 2008 the Palace of Versailles has put on a number of exhibitions dedicated to French or foreign artists, each one lasting a few months. Jeff Koons in 2008, Xavier Veilhan in 2009, Takashi Murakami in 2010, Bernar Venet in 2011, Joana Vasconcelos in 2012, Giuseppe Penone in 2013, Lee Ufan in 2014, Anish Kapoor in 2015, Olafur Eliasson in 2016 and the group show “a winter journey” in 2017 : these artists have all created a special dialogue between their works and the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. For the first time, the artist Hiroshi Sugimoto has installed his creations within the Trianon, a domain dedicated to the privacy of sovereigns.
Construction on the estate began under Louis XIV, who had the Grand Trianon Palace built at the far end of the northern branch of the Grand Canal. The estate is perhaps most closely associated with Queen Marie-Antoinette. The wife of Louis XVI regularly sought refuge at the Petit Trianon, where she commissioned marvellous landscaped gardens centred around a hamlet of cottages built in the rustic style then in vogue.
"Bringing Hiroshi Sugimoto to Versailles means hosting the eclecticism that defines the uniqueness of this great Japanese artist. Successive residents of the palace, from Louis XIV to Napoleon, from Marie-Antoinette to Louis-Phillippe, all collected works from their own time; by exhibiting at the Trianon estate, Sugimoto is the first artist to impart a modern perspective there," says Catherine Pégard, Head of the Public Establishment of the palace, the museum and the estate of Versailles.
"My artistic activity began with photography, working in two dimensions. After years of exhibiting my photographs in hard-to-use gallery spaces, I decided to become an architect myself in order to make three-dimensional spaces of the kind that served the artist. From there my interest then turned to performance—which adds the element of time, the fourth dimension, to space—and I became a theatrical producer. Far from heading toward harmony, as one might reasonably expect, my artistic career seems to be heading into disorder! I am grateful for the opportunity to create a site-specific exhibition at Versailles. I have thought carefully about who I have come to be as an artist and how I might integrate all my activities in a coherent manner," explained Sugimoto.
Curators for the exhibition are Alfred Pacquement, commissaire pour l’art contemporain à Versailles and Jean de Loisy, président du Palais de Tokyo. A catalogue is available.