Cy Twombly foundation ‘absolutely prepared to take legal action’ after Louvre ‘destroys’ artist’s ceiling painting in renovation works

Cy Twombly’s The Ceiling (2007-09) at the Louvre
© Cy Twombly 2010, Louvre Museum / Angèle Dequier

The Cy Twombly Foundation has threatened the Musée du Louvre with legal action after the museum renovated a gallery that had a ceiling painted by the US artist, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. While the ceiling remains undamaged, the surrounding changes to the walls and objects on display have changed Cy Twombly’s painting, so the foundation.

In 2010, just a year before his death, the artist was invited to add a monumental 350 m² installation to the Salle des Bronzes, which at the time displayed Roman and Greek bronze sculptures. Twombly’s ceiling painting shows spheres floating on a blue background, with inscriptions paying homage to Hellenistic sculptors. “The foundation was shocked to learn about it [the gallery’s] recent renovation, ”says Nicola del Roscio, chairman of the Cy Twombly Foundation, a private organization that aims to study and preserve the artist’s work and legacy. “Based on the white stone walls that reflect natural light, [Cy Twombly] designed a ceiling that is a slightly floating canopy in subtle colors, ”he adds. “The deep red that was introduced [to the walls] violates these harmonies and completely destroys the balance of its sensitive and memorable installation. ”

The foundation’s legal advisor, David R. Baum, who is also acting on behalf of the artist’s son, Alessandro, wrote to the Louvre’s director, Jean-Luc Martinez, on February 1 st about a “change that was made without consulting a lot has been questioning less permission from the foundation. “He called for the” urgent intervention “of the French Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot and called for an” immediate correction “by the museum. The foundation is “absolutely ready to file a lawsuit in court,” Baum told The Art Newspaper, and was surprised that the gallery no longer exhibited antique bronzes, but a new exhibition from the Etruscan collection.

The Louvre has no intention of reversing the works that are already well advanced. says Vincent Pomarède, the Louvre’s deputy manager. Hoping to “calm things down,” the museum wants to “speak to the foundation,” he adds, insisting that the ceiling has not been touched. “The museum is a living body,” says Pomarède. “[The Louvre] made this clear to Cy Twombly, as we do with any artist who works with us. In the preamble to the treaty [with Cy Twombly] it was made clear that museography could change. How could it be any different? “

The Salle des Bronzes is one of the few galleries that hasn’t changed since the 1930s, aside from Twombly’s intervention. “Every room in the museum is repainted two or three times a century,” explains Pomarède, who emphasizes that other galleries have also seen changes with ceilings painted by artists such as Delacroix and Braque. “We have to change the showcases, check the rooms, update the security standards and revise the display of the collections. There was a time when museums preferred these white or light gray colors, now they’re all returning to deeper colors, “he says.” Personally, I think Twombly’s blanket comes into its own now, “he concludes [Cy Twombly] The foundation has not yet seen the gallery, so you are welcome to judge for yourself. “

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