press release

In order to lend substance to the conversation between the past and the present, the Louvre has invited ten contemporary artists— Jean-Michel Alberola, Christian Boltanski, Marie-Ange Guilleminot (presenting Absalon), Susan Hefuna, Gary Hill, Cameron Jamie, Ange Leccia, Jean-Michel Othoniel, José-Maria Sicilia, and Xavier Veilhan— to intervene directly in its collections. These artists have been inspired by their experiences of the Louvre to select a place, an object, a historical period, a myth or legend. Each then provides a response in a manner of his or her choosing. Reflections on the concept of a museum piece, on time, memory, and conservation, painting, drawing, or sculpture projects, reinstallations of mobile objects, anthropological perspectives, links between tradition and modernity—all of these are ways in which the artists engage in dialogue with the Louvre’s collections.

The artists were able to choose whether they would create works specifically for their intervention, or present an existing work in this new context. Some of the artists chose to reconstitute an earlier work, adapting it to suit the organizing principles of this exhibition. By providing a novel and contemporary artistic perspective on the past, this unique approach to presentation, this serendipitous exploration of objects of other times, of objects created using other techniques, is apt to engage the attentions of varied and new museum audiences.

Gary Hill and Jean-Michel Othoniel selected the Department of Oriental Antiquities (Richelieu Wing, ground floor, rooms 4 and 5). Hill contrasts the language of cylinder seals, based on signs and words, with computer communication, thus providing a perspective on the origin and future of writing in the history of humanity. Othoniel takes his inspiration from Ishtar’s descent into the underworld, creating an installation in the Khorsabad and surrounding rooms consisting of large jewellery pieces (necklaces, brooches, earrings), recalling the magical use of certain forms of adornment. These offer a sensual, ornamental, and feminine counterpoint to the monumental figures of Assyrian dignitaries.

In the Department of Egyptian Antiquities (Sully Wing, ground floor, room 4 and 1st floor, room 26), Marie-Ange Guilleminot chose to present Absalon’s models for his Cellules, inviting the comparison with Egyptian dwellings. She has also installed, in the Louis XIV Alcove, a Bridal gown whose shape brings to mind the pleating of Egyptian tunics, and presents Sea Urchin in the Marly Courtyard, a “performance intervention” in the form of an inflatable lightweight sculpture.

José-Maria Sicilia has installed a floor covering made of tiles of painted plaster, reproducing the vegetal design of a rug, and Susan Hefuna has contributed works, in sculpture and in photography, inspired by North African moucharaby. Their works are well situated in the Department of Islamic Art (Richelieu Wing, mezzanine, room 11).

Captivated by Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities (Denon Wing, ground floor, room 30), Ange Leccia has created a film dealing with recumbent statuary, which will be displayed on two flat screens, reminiscent of sarcophagus walls. This video installation in a room devoted to mosaics also prompts us to recognize that the techniques involved in pixellated images are distantly related to those used to create mosaics.

Christian Boltanski, whose work deals with individual memory and the archaeology of the person, relics and other vestiges of the past, has selected the underground exhibition space at the Louvre devoted to the medieval period (Sully Wing, mezzanine, Saint-Louis Room) in order to contrast Reconstitutions of objects having belonged to C.B. (Christian Boltanski) and a selection of objects found at the Louvre with traditional objects discovered in recent archaeological digs.

The painter Jean-Michel Alberola dialogues with the central and enigmatic figure of Watteau’s Gilles through a series of drawings tracing the main lines of his conception of painting (Sully Wing, 2nd floor, room 63).

Xavier Veilhan, who works on the principle of the commission, the purpose of contemporary statuary, and the problematics of museographical presentation, proposes, in the Department of Objets d’Art (Sully Wing, 1st floor, room 43), a new presentation of porcelain sculptures of significant figures of the 17thcentury, and adds his own perspective on celebrity in the 20th century.

Finally, in the Pavillon des Sessions (Denon Wing, ground floor), Cameron Jamie, an American artist and Paris resident, presents documents dealing with the rituals and masks of what he terms “Western paganism” in the former display cases of the colonial museum (exhibition space closed on Fridays).

For this exhibition Frédéric Sanchez (with the assistance of Bose Corporation) creates a sound installation for the Salle du Donjon, the medieval remains of the fortress and palace of Philippe Auguste and Charles V.

Contemporary art at the Louvre
A contemporary perspective on the Museum’s permanent collections
Kurator: Marie-Laure Bernadac

Künstler: Jean-Michel Alberola, Christian Boltanski, Marie-Ange Guilleminot (presenting Absalon ), Susan Hefuna, Gary Hill, Cameron Jamie, Ange Leccia, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Jose-Maria Sicilia, Xavier Veilhan, Jacques Vieille ...