The Louvre's ceilings already abound with paintings: There are plenty of frolicking maidens, epic battles and racing chariots, not to mention cherubs holding cornucopias. American contemporary artist Cy Twombly had something different in mind, however – something a bit simpler.
Twombly, the first artist given the honor of decorating a Louvre ceiling since Georges Braque in the 1950s, came up with a geometric design – a deep blue background punctuated with floating discs and emblazoned with the names of sculptors from ancient Greece.
The ceiling floats over a gallery of antique bronzes like a deep blue sky. Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand, naming the artist a knight of the Legion of Honour at the work's inauguration, said the ceiling reminded him of "the sea, allied with the sun".
Twombly said he was inspired by the colours he found in a Chinese print as well the blue of Italian Renaissance artist Giotto, who used paint made from lapis lazuli.
"I was just thinking of the blue with the discs on it, it's totally abstract... I put all the great Greek sculptors' names on the top. It's that simple," Twombly said.
Louvre director Henri Loyrette has helped modernise the museum by inviting contemporary artists to contribute permanent works. Twombly is the third, after Germany's Anselm Kiefer and France's François Morellet.