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Jeff Koons courts controversy — and photos of sculpture at Versailles

September 19, 2008 |  3:11 pm

Split Mon Dieu, art bad boy Jeff Koons knows how to stir up a fuss. His latest affront to guardians of culture went up this month at the former home of the Sun King: an exhibiton of 17 of his mammoth sculptures titled "Jeff Koons Versailles" that will remain on view at the famed royal residence, from which Marie-Antoinette fled to her appointment with the guillotine, until Dec. 14.

Some visitors have reported being enthralled by the sight of Koons' "Michael Jackson and Bubbles" in the center of the Venus Salon or of "Balloon Dog (Magenta)" sharing the Salon d'Hercule with two huge Veronese paintings. On opening day, on the other hand, a group of protesters stood outside the gates to decry this trespassing on the national patrimoine.

But at least Koons, often spoken of as an heir to Andy Warhol, isn't keeping all the gloire to himself. Instead, he's invited visitors to the exhibiton to achieve their own brief moments of fame by photographing one of the works and is then posting the best submissions on his personal page on the photo-blogging site Fotolog.

The work in question is titled "Split-Rocker." Installed in the gardens known as the Orangerie, it's a 40-foot-tall representation of the head of a child's rocking toy — half-horse, half-dinosaur — made of a steel frame covered with 90,000 potted flowering plants.

Some might say that a big head is perfectly at home at a palace so many of whose inhabitants lost theirs.

— Craig Fisher

AP photo by Thibault Camus