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4,000 Protest Takashi Murakami's Versailles Exhibit

posted on by Egan Loo
Traditionalists petition against pop artist; Murakami himself uses art to protest restrictions

Takashi Murakami, the Japanese pop artist known for his anime- and manga-inspired art, will exhibit sculptures in the Chateau of Versailles, the apartments that once housed the kings and queens of France, from September 14 to December 12. Traditionalist groups are protesting the exhibit, citing past Murakami works such as "My Lonesome Cowboy" and "Hiropon" as proof that Murakami's works "have no place in the royal apartments."

"My Lonesome Cowboy" depicts a young man using semen as a lasso, and "Hiropon" depicts a young woman using breast milk as a jump rope. Neither sculpture is listed to be displayed at the exhibit. Among the sculptures that will be exhibited are "Flower Matango" (pictured above) and "Tongari-kun" (pictured below).

The exhibit is part of a series of modern artists in Versailles. Jean-Jacques Aillagon, director of the museum, says that the disconnect between location and exhibit is intentional, the goal being to expose traditional Versailles visitors to art that they might not otherwise see, and to introduce modern art enthusiasts to a location they might not otherwise visit.

An organization called Versailles Defence Coordination (Coordination Défense de Versailles) has collected 4,387 signatures opposing the exhibit, according to the organization's official website at the time of this writing. The group's leader, Arnaud Upinsky, called the show "illegal," although Aillagon says that the works were chosen "carefully" to be viewable by everyone.

This month, Murakami art-directed a magazine cover featuring Britney Spears. Manga creator Seiji Matsuyama later revealed that the photoshoot was an indirect protest against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's unsuccessful bill to restrict sexualized depictions of "nonexistent youths." Vice Governor Naoki Inose had shown Matsuyama's Okusama wa Shōgakusei manga on television as an example of which manga should be restricted. Murakami then asked Matsuyama via Twitter about using Matsuyama's art to inspire his magazine photoshoot.

Murakami has acknowledged the influence of anime, manga, and otaku culture on his art, and he himself has directed several anime projects. In 2008 Murakami was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Murakami has worked with Luis Vuitton to design a print for its handbag lines, and with rapper Kanye West to design an album cover and animate a music video. In 2009, Murakami created a music video titled "Akihabara Majokko Princess," directed by Terminator Salvation director MCG and starring actress Kirsten Dunst.

Kunsthallen Brandts' media museum in the Danish city of Odense is holding an erotic manga exhibition to encourage "a debate" on the power of media and a proposed ban on sexual depictions of fictional children. Protesters were seeking to ban the exhibition last week.

Thanks to dormcat for the news tip.

Sources: AFP, Jiji Press

Images : Takashi Murakami Oval Buddha Silver 2008, Argent - 136.5 x 80.5 x 78 cm - Courtesy Blum & Poe, Los Angeles © 2008 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. Château de Versailles/Salon de l'Abondance © Florian Kleinefenn. Takashi Murakami - Tongari-Kun 2003 - 2004, Fibre de verre, acier et huile, acrylique et peinture uréthane - 700 x 350 cm © 2003 - 2004 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All right reserved. Photo: Florian Kleinefenn - Salon d'Hercule / Château de Versailles

Update: More background information added.

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