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VIDEO: French artist JR’s incredible optical illusion reveals Louvre pyramid’s ‘secret’

French artist JR on Friday put the final touches to a huge collage in the courtyard of the Louvre, his latest eye-popping-project unveiled to mark the 30th birthday of the Louvre's glass pyramid.

VIDEO: French artist JR's incredible optical illusion reveals Louvre pyramid's 'secret'
The Louvre pyramid is seen during preparations of the installation of French artist and photographer JR on Friday. Photo: Philippe LOPEZ / AFP
Some 400 volunteers working in teams of 50 spent four days pasting strips of printed paper on the cobbles of the courtyard, creating a giant patchwork around the pyramid commissioned by late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand.
 
JR, who has been dubbed the “French Banksy” after the British street artist, is famous for blowing up photographs — often of people — into huge collages that have graced the wall between Jerusalem and the West Bank and the Rio favelas, among other sites.
 
 
The artist promised that his latest work — created using a technique that distorts the image of the subject unless viewed from a specific angle — would reveal “the Secret of the Great Pyramid.”
 
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A camera on the roof of the Louvre fed images to two giant screens which appeared to show the pyramid emerging from its foundations, as if from a giant quarry of white rock.
 
“There are more than 2,000 strips to paste on the ground, each ten metres long, so it's a huge puzzle. And when you're on the puzzle you don't see what you're doing,” the artist told AFP. “It's great. We're like children watching this pyramid grow before our eyes.”
 
Hated by many Parisians when it was unveiled 30 years ago on Friday, Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei's creation has wormed its way into their hearts and is now revered like one of the Louvre's greatest treasures, such as the “Mona Lisa” and the “Venus de Milo”.
 
Three years ago JR, whose real name is Jean Rene, gave the pyramid a very different treatment, covering it in a giant trompe-l'oeil that made it look as if it had disappeared.

TOURISM

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.

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