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Culture

'Queen's vagina' sculpture at Versailles angers French hard right

media Anish Kapoor's Dirty Corner in the gardens of the Versailles Château Reuters/Charles Platiau

British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor has angered French right-wingers by placing a sculpture he has described as "the queen's vagina" in the gardens of the historic Versailles château. It is not the first controversy over a modern art installation in the seat of the now-deposed French monarchy.

Ahead of the opening of an exhibition of specially commissioned works at the Château de Versailles, Kapoor told the JDD newspaper that he wanted to "upset the balance" of its carefully laid-out gardens and "invite chaos".

His wish should be granted if France's far-right and hard-line Catholic bloggers have their way.

They've republished excerpts from the interview under headlines like "A giant vagina at Versailles (as well as an ejaculating sculpture)", as well as an unflattering article from right-wing paper Le Figaro.

The Catholic Salonbeige site, which backed 2013's demonstrations against gay marriage, has invited its members to turn out when Kapoor opens the show on Monday.

What has got them worked up is a 60-metre-long steel tunnel with piles of soil and blocks of stone around its entrance, entitled Dirty Corner.

It is "very sexual", Kapoor told JDD, and he compared it to "the vagina of the queen who is taking power".

Another piece, placed in the tennis court that was the scene of an oath that led to the toppling the monarchy, features a cannon firing red wax at a wall - a "provocation", according to Kapoor, who described it as a an "obvious phallic symbol", which takes on the violence of modern society.

The sculptor is the eighth modern artist to exhibit at Versailles.

Their presence has often proved controversial with traditionalists particularly upset by US artist Jeff Koons and Japan's Takashi Murakami.

An inflatable Christmas Tree in Paris's historic Place Vendôme by US artist Paul McCarthy was sabotaged last year because of its apparent similarity to a sex toy.

Over a quarter of a million people went to see Anish Kapoor's installation Leviathan at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2011.

The Versailles show runs from 9 June to 1 November.

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