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The Louvre’s Bronze Room.

Cy Twombly Foundation Calls Louvre Restoration of Bronze Room an “Odious Affront”

The Cy Twombly Foundation has denounced the Louvre’s restoration of its Bronze Room, which houses a site-specific work by Twombly, and has demanded that the Paris institution restore the room to its original state. French newspaper Le Monde reports that on February 1, New York attorney David R. Baum, acting as legal adviser to Twombly Foundation president Nicola del Roscio, emailed Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez condemning the changes to the room and asking that they be corrected “immediately,” or at least before the space is reopened to the public. On receiving no reply from Martinez by February 3, Baum wrote to French cultural minister Roselyne Bachelot to complain about the Louvre’s lack of “substantial response.”

The Twombly Foundation contends that the changes being made to the Bronze Room conflict profoundly with Twombly’s contribution, which the American artist completed in 2010, a year before his death. The room, constructed between 1551 and 1553 by architect Pierre Lescot, occupies the Louvre’s Sully Wing, one of the institution’s largest and oldest wings, and houses more than a thousand works in precious metal, including rings, helmets, and crowns. Twombly’s contribution, commissioned by the Louvre’s then-director Henri Loyette in 2007, was meant to complement a 1930s redesign of the room by Albert Ferran, and was seen as a particularly fitting choice owing to the artist’s interest in Greek and Roman history.

To create the Louvre commission, Twombly painted the Bronze Room’s ceiling a vibrant Mediterranean blue, and then punctuated the field with disks, shields, and planets in various shades of ocher and white and crossed by bands bearing the names of classical sculptors, including Phidias, Praxiteles, Polykleitos, and Skopas. The artist’s choice of color takes into account the room’s pale walls and white and gray marble floor, and in dialogue with the room’s contents endows the space with a much-needed lightness. The renovation currently underway is intended to restore the room to its pre-1930s appearance, and includes the replacement of the floor and fixtures, and the repainting of the walls, which are to be red. Additionally, Etruscan metal works are to be displayed alongside the Roman and Greek artifacts traditionally held in the room.

The Twombly Foundation claims that it was never contacted about the changes, which it calls an “odious affront” that is “in violation of the artist’s moral rights.”

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