Cy Twombly’s Ceiling at the Musée du Louvre, Paris
August 6th, 2010
Cy Twombly’s newly commissioned ceiling at the Louvre in Paris is monumental in scale, and covers more than 350 square meters. It was painted with the assistance of several artists and apprentices in a warehouse outside Paris before being affixed like wallpaper to the ceiling of the Salle des Bronzes. Looking up one sees an immense blue sky, painted with spheres and white insets inscribed with the names of leading Greek sculptors from the 4th century: Cephisodotus, Lysippus, Myron, Phidias, Polyclitus, Praxiteles and Scopas. The round shapes appear like shields, planets, or coins, while the blue background evokes either the sky or the sea.
Cy Twombly is the third contemporary artist invited to install a permanent work at the Louvre. He follows in the footsteps of a long lineage of artists including Le Brun, Delacroix, Ingres that have been honored in this tradition. In the 20th century, the invitation has been extended to Georges Braque, (who has painted a ceiling with black birds against a starry midnight-blue sky ) and more recently to François Morellet, and in 2007 to Anselm Kiefer.
Though Twombly is American born, he has been living in Italy since 1959, and this work not only evokes the spirit of the Mediterranean, but also the colors of Chinese prints, and the lapis lazuli paint used by Italian Renaissance artist Giotto – who the artist says he has also been inspired by.
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