Sir Anish Kapoor’s controversial sculpture installed last summer in Versailles Palace gardens is to be coated in gold leaf to cover anti-Semitic graffiti which has recently appeared on the artwork. The piece, titled Dirty Corner, was vandalised several times since it was opened to the public in June.
The artist has refused to clean the graffiti off the sculpture in order to highlight intolerance in society. But the council in Versailles ruled that the graffiti must be erased and an alarm installed. The British-Asian artist has chose to gild over the slogans – calling it his “royal response” to the vandalism. Dirty Corner, which has been dubbed the “Queens Vagina” in French media, was first splattered with yellow paint in June with further vandalism occurring over the the summer.
That was hastily cleaned off but, the following month, it was daubed with graffiti, some of it anti-Semitic, on two separate occasions. Sir Anish, who is Jewish himself, said he would not remove them but was legally challenged by a local politician, Fabien Bougle. He alleged that, by failing to remove the graffiti, the artist and Catherine Pegard, president of the Palace of Versailles, were complicit in the anti-Semitism. ‘A triumph for the racists’
After the ruling Sir Anish posted a picture of the sculpture on Instagram with the graffiti covered up by black sheets. Next to the image he said: “The racists in France have won a court judgement forcing the racist graffiti to be covered, blaming the artist and Versailles for inseminating racist propaganda. “It is as if a woman is raped and blamed for her own rape. “We will fight this. The racists cannot win. Join us!” Speaking after ruling, Sir Anish told Le Figaro: “This decision breaks my heart”. He said he could not remove the graffiti because that would deny the fact that it had happened. He called covering the sculpture in gold would ensure the slogans remained, transforming his original vision into “something else, a room still with a painful past, but a piece that first claims the beauty of art”.