Musée du Louvre/Angèle Dequier

In a subterranean space far below the swarms of tourists crowding the Louvre’s famed pyramid are remnants of a medieval fortress. Here, along a 12th-century sandstone passage, the American artist Joseph Kosuth is about to suspend 15 sentences in giant white neon tubing. The show, “Neither Appearance Nor Illusion,” which opens this month, is a first for the 64-year-old Mr. Kosuth. “You only get to do something at the Louvre once in a lifetime,” he said, explaining that he picked the museum’s catacombs rather than a conventional gallery because “it’s a place I’ve always loved, it gets a lot of traffic and has never been used for contemporary art before.”

Neither has the 16th-century Salle des Bronzes, which will soon be famous not just for its magnificent collection of ancient bronzes but for its ceiling, which is about to painted by another celebrated figure of American art: Cy Twombly.

“I’m really not doing something new,” Henri Loyrette, the Louvre’s director, said as he was sprinting through the museum’s galleries one recent morning. “I’m trying to revive a tradition.”

Mr. Loyrette — who arrived at the Louvre in 2001 after 18 years at the Musée d’Orsay— was referring to 1953, when Georges Braque decorated the ceiling in an ornate gallery that was once Henri II’s antechamber. Since then the Louvre has been primarily focused on burnishing the reputation of dead artists, not promoting new ones, especially if they’re American.

But there seems to be an infusion of many things American at the Louvre these days.


Carol Vogel
New York Times