Cy Twombly at the Louvre

The latest addition to the Louvre isn’t a centuries-old sculpture or Renaissance painting but a commission from contemporary American artist Cy Twombly. Twombly is the third contemporary artist who has been invited to install a permanent work at the Louvre, an effort to show the museum’s commitment to living artists and probably a smart way to keep it relevant. Anselm Kiefer was asked first in 2007 followed by Francois Morellet earlier this year, but previous artists have included Le Brun, Delacroix, Ingres and Georges Braque.

For the 350 square meter ceiling of one of the Louvre’s oldest and largest galleries,home to its collection of classical bronzes, Twombly did not opt for a composition of his trademark scratchy scrawls but took an appropriately more traditional approach. The large blue expanse gives a nod to classic ceiling frescoes, many of which take place in the sky. Twombly didn’t go all out in his homage with a ceiling-full of cherubs and winged, conveniently draped virgins; Rather, his fresco is inscribed with the names of the leading Greek sculptors of the 4th century: Cephisodotus, Lysippus, Myron, Phidias, Polyclitus, Praxiteles and Scopas. It’s a bright new addition to an otherwise staid space, and proof that the French know that a museum isn’t a mausoleum for art, but a place where it can live.

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