Home Magazine Contemporary Art at the heart of historical monuments: the case of France

The increasing dialogue between contemporary works of art and historical monuments rarely happens quietly. The latest installation by Felice Varini at Cité de la Carcassonne, in the Languedoc Roussillon French region, does not exempt itself from controversies. Discover more about the Contemporary Art in France on Kooness.


2018: “Encircled” Cité  de Carcassonne 

Carcassonne, in occasion of the 20th anniversary from its recognition as part of the world heritage by UNESCO, has invited the Swiss artist Felice Varini to enhance the famous battlements of the Medieval city. The aim of the installation by Felice Varini was to enlighten the Castle with concentric yellow aluminium circles for a duration of five months. The enlightenment of the battlements was harshly criticised. An online petition, largely sustained by far-right parties, compares the anamorphosis to a “fluorescent rescue vest”. 


2016: The abandoned Anzy-le-Duc stained glass windows 

In 2015, Anzy-le-Duc town hall accepted to propose to Gérard Fromanger to replace the stained glasses of the Roman church which dated from the 19th century. However, the decision was judged profane and the proposal of the artist was eventually declined.


2015: The “Dirty Corner”, vandalized Versailles  

The presence of contemporary art at the Versailles Castle has always been controversial. Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami or Xavier Veilhan have not been exempted from criticisms, but nobody ever tried to physically damage their works. This happens for the first time in 2015 when the "Dirty Corner" installation by the British artist Anish Kapoor is vandalized many times.


2011: The menaced “Mur pour la paix” at the Champ-de-Mars 

Built in 2000 at the Champ-de-Mars, the "Mur de la paix" by Clara Halter has established in the area although being repeatedly damaged. In 2011, Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th arrondissement, launched a petition asking for the removal of the glass panels on which the word "peace" was written in 32 languages. The main reason behind the removal request was that the glass panels distorted the perspective of the Ecole Militaire at the Eiffel Tower.  


1960: The decried ceiling of the Paris Opéra 

Almost impossible to imagine, now that we consider the artist a master, but Marc Chagall too received several criticisms. Even though his art is nowadays considered joyful and poetic, when in 1960 the Minister of Culture André Malraux commissioned to him a painting for the ceiling of the Opéra Garnier, conservatives opposed the incursion of contemporary art in a Second Empire building. Inaugurated four years later, the work by Chagall was appreciated with great enthusiasm. 


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