Not all art is meant to last forever, but most artists would hope it would last more than a few hours. Unfortunately, not even the Louvre is an exception.
In honour of the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, the museum commissioned an art installation envisioned by award-winning French street artist Jean Rene. It took 400 volunteers four days to make his vision come to life with thousands of pieces of paper arranged to create the optical illusion of the pyramid looking like a gigantic, rocky ravine. “Each day hundreds of volunteers came to help cut and paste the 2,000 strips of paper,” read a statement on the artist’s website.
The picturesque installation was revealed on Friday evening. Hours later, it was all but destroyed. Papers flew around the Louvre’s Napoleon Court as a flood of tourists walked over the commemorative attraction. “It’s perfectly normal for it to be degradable. We just didn’t know how fast it would happen,” a spokesperson for the Louvre told The Times.
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While people may see it and think that it is a pity that such a time-intensive and beautiful work of art didn’t last longer, Rene expressed that the outcome was expected from the start. The artist reacted to the record-breaking degradation on his website, saying, “The images, like life, are ephemeral. Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of fragile paper.”
This is the second time Rene has done an art installation involving the Louvre Pyramid. In 2016, Rene plastered the glass segments of the structure with black and white photos of the Louvre Palace. When looking at the building straight on, the installation made it look as though the pyramid had disappeared.
Though it is now gone, the work of art lives on in the countless photos taken by visitors, Rene, and the museum, proving that if you want a temporary installation to last forever, you just need to share it online. Ideally, before it starts peeling from people stepping all over it.