A whimsical collage in the courtyard of France’s Louvre art gallery had a short shelf life after a swarm of tourists and art lovers left it in shreds.
The French artist JR and 400 volunteers had put the final touches to the huge collage on Friday to mark the 30th anniversary of the Louvre’s glass pyramid.
On Saturday he tweeted a photo of the 17,000 sq metre (183,000 sq ft) work which, from a certain angle, made the pyramid appear to extend deep into a quarry of white rock, and invited the public to come take a look.
Come they did, and by Sunday the fragile 2,000-odd sheets of paper were torn to pieces, returning the site to its natural state in what could almost be called a work of public performance art.
However, some art lovers were not amused, with comments on Twitter such as “really disappointing bad experience today for the Louvre pyramid’s 30th anniversary” and “JR’s art piece was more fleeting than foreseen”.
The artist was more philosophical. “The images, like life, are ephemeral,” he 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.”
Three years ago JR, whose real name is Jean Rene, gave the pyramid a different treatment, covering it in a giant trompe l’oeil that made it seem like it had disappeared.