The Vampirization of the Louvre
Some readers may recall that I have devoted several articles to the Louvre and to the politics that are dictating the future of the great museum. Originally, when I learned that a substantial number of works were to be transferred to other museums bearing the name "Louvre", both in France and around the world I was shocked. Even more shocked when it was reported that one of the new "Louvre" museums was in Abu Dhabi, and that the Emirate would pay France handsomely (one billion euros) for both the art and the expertise of French art historians as well as French architects. But the shock has long since worn off, in view of so many other cultural setbacks and political decisions that were at one time unimaginable.
Now the Louvre, in its effort to be in tune with the times, has on view an exhibit of works by Belgian "artist" and stage director, Jan Fabre, who makes his fortune on scatophilia and exhibitionism, and whose contempt for quality has earned him praise from audiences and politicians alike.
Review my article from last December on Jan Fabre.
A critique of the current exhibit entitled The Vampirization of the Louvre, by Professor Jean-Louis Harouel of the University of Paris, appeared in Le Figaro on April 15. Here are excerpts:
What is inadequately termed "contemporary art" has been gaining ground since 2004 against the masterpieces in the Louvre. Last year, around the tomb of Philippe Pot, a marvel of 15th century sculpture, they appended rows of fakes, as in an old-fashioned hardware store. Today, the center of the huge room (photo) where the life of Marie de Médicis by Rubens is displayed, has become a chaotic pile of tombstones like the backyard of a negligent stone-cutter. (...)
As a general rule, so-called contemporary art is nothing but an imposture. (...) The eternal repetition of what used to be the provocations of empty art or of anti-art no longer shocks anybody and procures fortune and prestige. It's the academicism of our times.
Merchants, collectors, critics, museums, media, public authority present as art an immense farce that ridicules art. The success of this fraud is strange, but fitting to the reign of culturally illiterate leaders deprived of the superior social models that guided them before. The absence of artistic content in so-called contemporary art abolishes the distinction between culture and lack of culture, and flatters the ego of those most ignorant in art and history. There is no need for knowledge, arduous reading, analysis or understanding to place before an amateur a pile of rocks or a block of scrap metal. It's enough to proclaim it to be a work of genius and to pay fabulous sums of money in order to feel like a great collector, a great maecenas. Art that isn't art suits this uncultivated elite to a "t".
But why this mania to bring this farce into classical museums, and in particular the Louvre? For despite its colossal commercial success, despite the media's drum-beating, despite the support of uncultivated billionaires imagining themselves to be art lovers and the approval of all the triumphant dupes who sing its praises, the more lucid adherents of so-called contemporary art know perfectly well that it suffers from a total absence of artistic legitimacy. Now, the theory that postulates equality, that seeks to create a supposed dialogue between on the one hand authentic masterpieces of the past, and on the other the present-day impostures, permits the latter to be extolled as having high artistic value. Contemporary art, which is not art, seeks to give itself artistic legitimacy through a forced confrontation with the greatest masterpieces. It vampirizes them in order to affirm itself as true art. The Jan Fabre exhibit in the Louvre adds nothing to Van Eyck, Memling, Rembrandt or Rubens. It does however bring to Jan Fabre the illusion of conversing on an equal footing with them, the illusion, therefore, of being a great artist. (...)