VISIBLE & INVISIBLEInterpreting Versailles

Five contemporary artist narrates the prestigious
estate through their lenses.


The Château of Versailles gardens by  Martin Parr, 2018



The twelfth season of the Versailles contemporary art exhibition leads us as if through the antique darkroom of five photographers – Dove Allouche, Nan Goldin, Martin Parr, Eric Poitevin and Viviane Sassen – through their memories and dreams, and ways of seeing, revealing their visions of Versailles, another Versailles. For the first time, the château of Versailles has commissioned artists to produce new works. In this instance, images that condense and pare down their thoughts on this elusive place. Nearly two hundred years after its invention, photography and its new techniques make Versailles itself as “new” a subject now as it was at the turn of the 20th century.These five artists, with their daring and differing viewpoints both visible and invisible, form a dialogue between the act of creating and the oldest geology and long-lost botany, resuscitating history, unveiling allegories and speaking to all generations.

The photographers took inspiration fro the crowd, room and artworks that have filled the rooms of the estate for centuries.
Of the myriad materials from which Versailles was built, Dove Allouche has focused particularly on gypsum. His abstract compositions in striking colours, inspired by gypsum, can be found in the Cotelle Gallery at the Grand Trianon.

Nan Goldin explores both the labyrinth of underground hydraulic systems feeding the fountains as well as the ubiquitous female icons of mythology found in the statuary throughout the gardens. On the ground floor of the Petit Trianon with Hala Wardé and HW architecture, she creates a trail accompanied by an audio reconstruction of the 1789 Women’s March on Versailles produced by Soundwalk Collective.

True to form, Martin Parr takes inspiration from the crowds of people who visit Versailles: their cosmopolitan diversity gives rise to a colourful series of images, rich in emotion and ironic humour. These are on display in the Pavillon Frais (located in the French Garden of the Petit Trianon), which is open to the public for the first time.

Eric Poitevin has chosen the Jussieu Orangerie (Petit Trianon) to unveil two new photographic series, both on the theme of nature. One attempts to capture that which holds particular symbolism at Versailles: the sun; the other is a delicate visual study of the angelica plant and its splayed bipinnate leaves.

Viviane Sassen splashes her colour-soaked images throughout the rooms of the Grand Trianon. From her studious examination of Versailles’s statuary and the history of the palace and its occupants, she builds a narrative incorporating images of modern teenagers.

The exhibition will run until October 20, 2019.