Rap star spends ‘awesome’ night at the Louvre

VIDEO: Rap's renaissance man spent an awesome night at the Louvre museum. See what he got up to.

Rap star spends 'awesome' night at the Louvre
Photo: AFP

The singer revealed to the world on Tuesday the results of his most unlikely collaboration yet, after he was allowed to spend an “awesome” night inside the Louvre museum.

The Black Eyed Peas frontman shot a video of his song “Smile Mona Lisa” in the Paris landmark as a tribute to his hero, Leonardo da Vinci – and found the place “so cool” he decided to make a documentary about it.

In the music clip appears in some of the museum's greatest masterpieces, including as a gun-toting revolutionary in Delacroix's “Liberty Leading the People”, while singer Nicole Scherzinger slips into the clothes of the enigmatic Mona Lisa.

Actor, philanthropist and tech evangelist, who is Intel's director of creative innovation as well as the man behind the Puls smartwatch, told AFP he saw many parallels between Da Vinci and today's tech pioneers.

“Leonardo (and other Renaissance artists) were the tech of those times… they were engineers, inventors, they were into astronomy, anatomy and they painted for leisure,” he said.

“When I see the Renaissance I see hope, because the world changed in 1716, 1816 and 1916. And here we are in 2016 and it's awesome.”

In the web documentary he shot, called “ at the Louvre”, he raves about the Old Masters in what he calls the “greatest museum on Earth”.

Monumental bling

But it was a piece of monumental 18th-century bling which really floored the singer.

He marvelled at the technology of Claude-Simeon Passemant's gold and silver “Pendulum of the Creation of the World”, made in 1754, which not only told the time but showed precisely how the Earth was tilting on its axis.

“That is the best thing I've seen,” he said.

“This place is magic, inspirational,” the rapper had said earlier as he was chased through the corridors of the museum by a throng of camera crews in a scene that could have come straight from Fellini's “La Dolce Vita”.

After agreeing to follow 20-year-old fan Ousman Cissokho on Instagram, he told reporters that the “one sad thing” was the lack of black faces on the museum's walls beyond its Egyptian collections.

“When people see the (music) clip (of the singer inside Vermeer and Rembrandt paintings) the first thing they do is laugh,” the hip hop star said.

“The reason they are laughing is because we have never… seen Africans or people of African descent in a masterpiece. And that is because at some point in time black people were a piece of property of their masters.”

But technology brought hope for change, he said, and one day museums like the Louvre may display iPhones alongside Rembrandts.

“In 100 years from now we will all agree that Apple is a company that makes art and provides tools for artists. I would inspire young kids to be inspired by Apple and be like Apple.

“Right now my biggest inspiration is a company, a group of artists and dreamers called Apple,” he added.

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New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

IN DETAIL: When do France’s top tourist sites reopen?