The Louvre’s iconic glass pyramid is turning 30, and Paris’s famed museum is pulling out all the stops. The celebrated French street artist JR pulled off a stunning optical illusion on Friday, when he surrounded the glass pyramid in a collage made of 2,000 strips of paper. The final effect adds a depth of field to the surrounding terrain, and makes it look like the pyramid is sinking into a chasm.
“It magnifies this iconic monument.…I was immediately seduced,” the Louvre president Jean-Luc Martinez said, according to the Associated Press. JR completed the installation, called The Secret of the Great Pyramid, with the help off 400 volunteers.
But not everyone was immediately taken with JR’s achievement. According to The Washington Post, some attendees at Friday’s opening were disappointed that they couldn’t see the full scope of the piece without purchasing special VIP passes that granted access to a balcony from where the piece could be better appreciated. The Louvre will reportedly attempt to better democratize the piece by projecting the aerial view onto two giant screens in the museum’s courtyard.
Despite the mixed reaction, JR, who previously executed a similar trompe l’oeil installation by camouflaging the pyramid so as to make it disappear completely, seemed enthused about the piece, and took to Instagram to show off his feat. “Come discover the Great Pyramid @museelouvre this week end!” he wrote. “Thanks to the 400 hundreds volunteers who helped us paste all week the 2000 strips of paper.”
The Louvre’s pyramid was erected in 1989 and has almost become as synonymous with the institution as the Mona Lisa itself. Designed by the Chinese American architect I. M. Pei, the pyramid hasn’t always had the highest approval rating. As the Post points out, some people in the French art world found that the modernist structure clashed with the Louvre’s Renaissance aesthetic and ethos. But 30 years later, it remains one of the most recognizable structures in all of Paris, and that’s saying something.
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