We’ll start with the Louvre museum. Here are some photos of the building itself. The Pyramid, the glass entrance structure that opens to the underground entrance lobby, is fascinating in itself for the geometry it creates and the possibilities for abstraction, and for the clash of modernity against 18th and 19th century architectural sensibilities that hallmark the rest of the building.
Under the pyramid there is a vast entrance plaza with a huge spiral stairs. In the center of the spiral stairs is the accessibility elevator, a cylinder that rises and falls to transport people to and from the plaza above, and looks like it should be a stage set from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The contrast, a Napoleonic-era entrance ramp and doors (see the N’s in the frieze above the windows and doors). This is empty because the courtyard is closed to the public and filled with construction equipment.
As you can see, the Louvre is a VERY busy museum. I don’t know if it is the most visited art museum in the world or not (I think it is), but it also has to be one of the largest if not the largest. I really only saw parts of one wing of the museum (there are three), and you could easily spend a half a day in there every day for a month and still not see everything.
The grand gallery is where the Italian Renaissance masterworks are held – the three non-Mona Lisa DaVincis are here, along with the Caravaggios – highlights of the collection that most interested me.
In the section with the 19th century French paintings, there was a painter with his easel set up, copying the famous painting of the cavalryman in the bearskin hat. I couldn’t resist taking this shot as much because of the “no photography” sign he had on his easel. I’ll justify it by saying that I think it had more to do with not wanting to be disturbed by flashes popping than anything else.
The Louvre has perhaps the very best collection of Michelangelo’s sculpture outside of Italy. Two of the Medici tomb sculptures are in the sculpture gallery, and are of intense interest to me because they are part of the “unfinished” pieces in style. There is still significant debate as to whether the “unfinished” pieces are in fact unfinished or if their appearance is exactly what Michelangelo intended. They are called “unfinished” because they have coarse textures in parts and tool marks are prominent over significant portions of the pieces, to the point that some portions of the pieces are in fact only roughed-in forms without complete features.
Finally, we have some other sculptural pieces from the Louvre. The Cupid with Butterfly is actually in a side gallery where touching is allowed.