Caving to Legal Pressure, the Louvre Has Agreed to Reverse Significant Changes It Made to a Room With a Cy Twombly Mural

As part of the agreement, the Cy Twombly Foundation has dropped its lawsuit against the museum.

Cy Twombly in the Salle des Bronzes, one of the oldest sections of the Louvre museum, with his painting above. Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP via Getty Images.

The Louvre has reached an out-of-court settlement with the Cy Twombly Foundation over a redecoration project that compromised a permanent installation by the U.S. artist in one of the museum’s galleries.

The foundation has agreed to drop a lawsuit filed against the museum earlier this year in exchange for the room to be restored to its original look.

The artist painted a ceiling mural for the museum’s Salle des Bronzes in 2010. The site-specific work originally overlooked a neutral pale stucco room with limestone flooring. But a redesign, in the works for at least two years and approved by France’s Historical Monuments Commission, saw the room repainted in a rusty brown color, and refloored with parquet.

The foundation charged with guarding Twombly’s legacy was affronted by the change of decor, which it said fundamentally altered the artist’s work. After appeals to the Louvre’s then-president, Jean-Luc Martinez, went unheeded, the foundation filed suit against the museum in March, demanding that it reverse the changes.

A photograph of the Salle des Bronzes with the initial redecoration in progress.

A photograph of the Salle des Bronzes with the initial redecoration in progress.

In a joint statement issued today, December 10, the museum and the foundation said they are “pleased” to have “reached an agreement that will allow the presentation of one of the major works by the great contemporary artist Cy Twombly in a harmonious and coherent setting.” The agreement includes modifying the color of the room’s walls, wood panels, and display cases to lighter colors.

Titled The Ceiling, Twombly’s 3,800-square-foot mural overlooks the museum’s collection of Etruscan statuary. Painted a cool blue wash in reference to the Aegean sea, it is adorned with yellow discs commemorating Hellenic sculptors. 

“The Cy Twombly Foundation is grateful that the Louvre and the French state have agreed to honor the spirit and character of the artist’s project,” the foundation’s president, Nicola Del Roscio, said in a statement.

The development brings an end to a lengthy saga that predated the Louvre’s new director, Laurence des CarsShe declined to comment on whether the saga will impact the museum’s decision to work with contemporary artists in future.

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