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Louvre visitors shred giant paper artwork in just one day

The work was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the Louvre’s glass pyramid

Clarisse Loughrey
Monday 01 April 2019 09:20 BST

A giant paper artwork, which covered the courtyard of Paris’s Louvre gallery, has been destroyed within a day of its unveiling.

With the help of 400 volunteers, French artist JR had worked for five days to glue together around 2,000 pieces of paper into one massive collage, created to mark the 30th anniversary of the Louvre’s glass pyramid.

On Saturday, he tweeted a photo of the work, which stretched over 17,000 sq metres (183,000 sq ft), unveiling that, when viewed from a certain angle, it made the pyramid appear as if it were rising out of a deep quarry of white rock.

However, as soon as it was opened to the public, the work began to disintegrate, returning the site to its normal appearance by Sunday.

“The images, like life, are ephemeral,” the artist tweeted. “Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir hunters.”

He added: “This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence.”

However, a volunteer told The Huffington Post that the work wasn’t created to be immediately destroyed by the public, and it has faced some criticism from the public.

Journalist Kevin Lheritier called the work an “ecological disaster” on Twitter. He added: “On the screens, the result is beautiful but on the ground: a catastrophe, papers flying around. The visitors respect nothing.”

The Louvre said in a statement: "It's quite normal that it was destroyed, we just didn't know how fast it would happen. The heat made the glue dry. It was planned that, in any case, the work would have been gone by Monday, so everything is going well."

JR, whose real name is Jean Rene, also tweeted that he was dedicating the work to his friend and collaborator Agnès Varda, who he worked with on the 2017 documentary Faces Places.

“I finished this one for you Agnès Varda, you loved people, pasting and illusion ... I am sure you can see it. I did something that can be seen from the sky. Promised, I didn’t know that it was for you,” he wrote on Twitter.

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