New Head of Versailles Gives Thumbs Down to Cattelan, Thumbs Up to Hirst

Nicolas Sarkozy‘s appointment of Catherine Pégard as head of the Château of Versailles raised some eyebrows in France this past fall, especially since, with no museum experience, her main qualification seemed to be her friendship with the French president. Many were relieved to learn that Pégard will continue the policy of bringing contemporary art to the palace, as initiated by her predecessor, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, and today, in an interview with Le Monde, she gave the first indication of how her programming tastes run.

Pégard inherited the exhibition by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos taking place this spring, but she told Le Monde that she visited the artist in Lisbon, “so now it’s my exhibition, and I accept this choice as mine.” She described the Vasconcelos show as “the last of the cycle,” which presumably means that she is nixing the Maurizio Cattelan exhibition that had been tentatively planned for later this year.

As for future shows, Pégard is looking for contemporary artists who can be connected to the history of Versailles. Thus, in 2013, for the 400th birthday of Versailles landscape architect André Le Nôtre, she has invited Giuseppe Penone, an Italian Arte Povera artist who uses trees in his work. Thinking further ahead, “in 2015, for the 300th anniversary of Louis XIV’s death, one can imagine showing Damien Hirst‘s skulls and his vanities, that makes sense.”

No word yet on whether Hirst would welcome the invitation. Perhaps he would like to arrange a skull show in 11 different palaces in France?

— Kate Deimling