Zeng Fanzhi and Delacroix Face Off at the Louvre

Setting up Zeng Fanzhi's "From 1830 till Now" inside the Louvre. Photo via @MuseeLouvre.

The Louvre has commissioned Zeng Fanzhi to create a new work taking Eugène Delacroix’s masterpiece Liberty Leading the People (1830) as inspiration. The resulting painting, entitled From 1830 to Now, No. 4, now sits next to Delacroix’s original at the Louvre, creating a compelling visual dialogue between past and present, East and West.

The Chinese auction darling is the second living Chinese artist whose work has been displayed amongst classic masterpieces at the Louvre. In 2009, Yan Pei-Ming reinterpreted Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503-17), and his painting The Funeral of Mona Lisa was subsequently placed near the original in the Parisian museum.

Zeng said he first came across Delacroix’s work in a textbook in 1985 and was deeply impressed. “For painters, the question of favoring technique or emotion is always debated,” Zeng told Chinese media. “Standing in front of the original, I discovered that Delacroix had found the answer early on,” he continued. The artist did not see the original until 1995, and was immediately struck by the image of the goddess of Liberty.

Reflecting on the subject of liberty, the Chinese artist has declared: “Freedom is an inherent human desire, but strong desire is itself a type of restraint. As long as humans exist, there will be others and the self, there will be the collective as well as the individual. Ultimate freedom is perhaps an eternal paradox.”

Zeng Fanzhi’s From 1830 to Now, No. 4  is on display at the Louvre until November 17.

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