Xavier Veilhan’s show at the Château de Versailles 13th September – 13th December 2009

Each year the Château de Versailles near Paris will host an event presenting a famous international artist in its grounds. This year, French artist Xavier Veilhan shows his works in the Gardens, Royal Court, and apartments of the Versailles Palace. His gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin has set up a production company “Rêves d’artistes” to partially finance the exhibition.

Xavier Veilhan was born in Lyon in 1963. He lives and works in Paris. He works in a variety of media such as photography, sculpture, film, painting and installation art.



Insolently violet, The Large Carriage is displayed in the court of honor.  Here, its familiar form is deformed by a shock wave, a genuine, dazzling trajectory placed on those very cobblestones. In an acceleration, this strange horse-drawn carriage plays on references to photographical analyses of movement done at the end of the 19th century by Marey and Muybridge. As the grand siècle (17th century) rubs shoulders with modernity, the gallop metamorphosizes into a colored and optical force.

Commissioned work by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication)



Every great conquest has its hero. Within this popular pantheon, Youri Gagarine is in the right place, fulfilling the modernist fantasy to be the first man in space and the first man to have seen the earth as an object. However, he fell back to Earth, into a space between the recumbent statue and fallen man, a derisory figure constructed by technology and fantasies. He lays on the bare ground without any pedestal. Appropriating the “recumbent statue” motif as “statuary’s ultimate state”, Xavier Veilhan once again plays on the relationships of scale with a more than 4-meter-long Gagarine-colossus. The celebration of progress’ universal symbol, – the conquest of the universe and of knowledge – has left a few elementary of its elementary particles behind. Astrophysics and relic devotion thus compose the astronaut’s newest tangible incarnation, this new modern man who still symbolizes hope and progress. An echo of Louis XIV’s conquest.



Like an overflow of thoughts and inspiration, a delicate effervescence occupies this transitory space – the grand staircase – a terrain of clashing images of a visit to the palace, where the graceful and colossal monochromatic mobile acts like a planetary hourglass. Mixing together skeins from the past, present and future, it could be a modern representation of the Fates, those mythological goddesses of destiny. But its perpetual movement sends us even closer to the conditions of modernism and science.



Claude Parent, Richard Rogers, Sir Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Tadao Ando, Jean Nouvel, Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal, Kazuyo Sejima, Philippe Bona & Elisabeth Lemercier

Because the famous personalities that have traversed these venerable alleys and perspectives, Xavier Veilhan wanted to add his own personal touch, his pantheon of great architects, of whom Claude Parent would be the patriarch. This list of names mixes with that of great universal references, weaving the relationship between the subjective and the generic that the artist loves so much. A fulllength, classical-style portrait is thus made of each great architect, using an extremely sophisticated digital scanning technique. But the monochromatic treatment gives this open-air portrait gallery a ghostly and enigmatic allure. Perched very high on barely outlined pedestals that function like frames in the landscape, this community of master-builders offers a new dynamic axiality to the gardens’ main artery, naturally leading to the king’s perspective.

Here’s the  interview of Xavier Veilhan for Vernissage.tv:

More info on the official website:


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