Clearly, some angry people do not think the Dirty Corner, a sculpture by British Indian sculptor and artist, Sir Anish Kapoor, is art. The piece, dubbed the “Vagina of Versailles” is so controversial that it was recently defaced with streams of yellow paint by unknown vandals—thought to be not only due to what it represents, but its placement in the garden of the historical and beloved Palace of Versailles in June of this year.
Once the home of notorious 18th century French queen, Marie Antoinette, the palace is one of the most popular tourist landmarks in Paris. Many come to marvel at its unique array of majestic fountains, sculptures of Roman gods and antiquities. But some Parisians are taken aback, bewildered—and simply offended. The 197-foot tubular red metal replica of female genitalia, according to the Wall Street Journal, is now the focal point of visitors, but some do not consider it worthy of placement at the palace—and it is believed to detract from its revered beauty. Many in the art world also consider it art, but some vociferously—and loudly—don’t.
Dirty Corner won’t keep its placement for long. It is part of a six-piece summer art exhibit created by the acclaimed Turner prize-winning artist, who is famous in the art world for using organic materials such as limestone, and other such materials to create his work. His sculptures, both small and large scale, are viewed all over the world. In 2006, Kapoor created and installed the 23-ton Sky Mirror that resides at Rockefeller Center, but he is probably most widely known for his Orbital Tower at the center of the Olympic Park in London.
Scandalous or Thought Provoking?
Though the “scandalous” piece is not the typical masterpiece you would expect to see at the palace, Dirty Corner signifies more than meets the eye. When interviewed by the French newspaper, Journal du Dimanche, Kapoor revealed his sculpture represents “the vagina of the queen who is taking power,” an idea that is applauded and favored by art enthusiasts. He later suggested that the sculpture is subject to individual interpretation.
In a report by Agence France-Presse, Kapoor said in a statement, “The point is to create a dialogue related to the grand gardens and its sculptures,” and it’s safe to say, Dirty Corner certainly achieved that. Kapoor says the defacement is politically motivated, according to the Metro Canada. He is extremely saddened and calls the vandalism a “tragedy.” But he also said in a statement reported by Observer, “…the blind vandalism proves that the power of art can intrigue minds and move limits…the positive thing about this attack is that it highlights the creative force of an inanimate object.”
A cleansing by palace employees will restore the unique sculpture, which is now generating quite a lot of publicity for the artist and the palace. That, Kapoor believes, makes Dirty Corner an artistic triumph.