Address given by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the inauguration of TheCeiling, painted ceiling for the Bronze Room of Cy Twombly at the Louvre
“She is found. What? Eternity. It is the sea gone with the sun”.
I know that you have often been associated with MALLARMÉ, very present
in your work, but it is these famous verses of RIMBAUD that
immediately came to mind seeing this wonderful ceiling
which you gave to the Louvre and which I am pleased to inaugurate with
you today as a form of tribute to your journey
For it is the same simplicity of a reconciled genius who, it seems to me,
inspire these RIMBAUD verses and the work you have offered at most
prestigious Museum of our country.
«It’s the sea with the sun»: what strikes in this ceiling is
indeed the rich ambiguity of a blue that is both above our
heads, and thus suggests a sky – a “ceiling” precisely, because it is good
the French origin of the English word – a “starry sky above our
heads», with its simplified constellations. And at the same time, it is the
eternal sea of the Greeks, this «Thalassa, Thalatta» full of
lungs by Anabase soldiers, at XENOPHON – the anabase,
a «climb» too, which inspired you a lot, as it inspired
our poet SAINT-JOHN-PERSE, which we are celebrating this year
the 50th anniversary of the Nobel Prize. Yes, we are above ourselves
the Greek sea where ICARE disappeared the daring young, who
had enough courage” – this metaphor of the artist. It is
the same Mediterranean where the hero of HOMER, founder of the
adventures of spirit and art. It is this Mediterranean near
which you inhabit, in the homeland of the nanny of AENEAS, this Gaite
and which is somewhat the original and everlasting young horizon of our
culture. "It is the sea gone with the sky," if I may say so, transforming
just a little RIMBAUD to get closer to your work.
This origin which is at the same time a destination, you us the
show without emphasis, because you have chosen the artist to
a thousand successes and immense recognition, to play the card fully
control, discretion, and simply give us a
decor. You did not want to impose an intrusive personality, crush
this ceiling, so to speak, but on the contrary lighten and open it, as
a reminder of the time when this room was openwork and lit by a sky.
It is today, thanks to you, magnificently, with a “ceiling”.
Entering this room of bronzes rich with so much history that could have
and seeing the space you created, I felt like
Shout, “Blue be”, “Fiat ceruleum”, that colour.
even from heaven.
In fact, this sea sky, as André BRETON spoke of a clear
earth”, is the call of the wide and the indispensable height to make us
see better the treasures necessarily corroded, attacked by the insults of the
time, of this Room of Bronzes. Your blue is a bit the antipode of the vertde-
grey and rust that load and threaten these splendors
gathered together, it is a bit of the antidote of time that might make us
miss our encounter with these beauties of yesteryear.
By this call of an azur that invests the center of the ceiling, you go to all
these bronzes their horizon of life and their original breath. At the same time, by
the subtle play of circular shapes, you not only show us
moons and centrifugal planets, but you give a visual echo to well
forms present here below, in this sublunar world of memory
what is the Museum, this world of eroded, scaled, and in need of
all that imaginary energy you give us to relive
in us. I think of the many mirrors to which time has
from those who rest on the shoulders of
benevolent goddesses, to those who, in round boxes, have since
the secret of vanished coquetteries.
But these circular motifs, endowed with colors that give each one his
own and almost own universe, this «harmony of spheres», this
are also shields, it is also this attic funerary urn, it may be
a form of “eternal return”, a circularity that, like the
maritime conquests, brings the dreamed East back to the American West and leads
the most contemporary art to a tribute to the origin.
This homage, as I have said, is rendered by sobriety and simplicity
of these mounted canvases, but also by the inscription, like the
of a signature that is not a signature, not of “the absence of any
bouquet», but of the great absentees of any museum: the seven wonders of
the ancient sculpture that was PHIDIAS, MYRON, LYSIPPE, PRAXITÈLE,
POLYCLETATE, SKOPAS and CEPOPHOTO… Each time, in this
free evocation, you have chosen different forms of writing, different
graphies of the Greek alphabet, to perhaps testify to the blurring of the
eras and blurred assumed and almost claimed memory also
former. Instead of trying to fill the gap, you are
with finesse, the absent and you use, for this, the
language can be like the sign, or trace of what, for drawing and
painting, has become unspeakable, as an indication that the area is
an attack where what art is capable of representing and even suggesting stops,
as the miliary marker of the limits of art. These names are therefore both in
glory and almost ironic withdrawal, in this interstitial region between art
and language, which redoubles the improbable gap you’ve been able to detect
and reveal between the sea and the sky.
This blue that awakens bronzes revives the ancient myth of the fountain
rejuvenating and rejuvenating water. It not only renews
our eyes and makes him fresh and almost innocent, but
contributes to the youth of this Museum: by entering the Louvre, where you
become the neighbour of Georges BRAQUE and his blue ceiling, but also
Anselm KIEFER and François MORELLET, you bring art to dialogue on
more contemporary with the oldest heritage, amassed here from
centuries. And with the same movement, this work, it seems to me,
your own way of exercising your art.
Because it is not only the occasion, the kairos or the tuchê [tukè] that speaks
Roland BARTHES about your works, if I wished today you
to pay tribute at the same time as we inaugurate this perennial setting,
«more durable than brass» as HORACE said, or rather which makes
more durable brass... Yes, if I wished to pay tribute to you on behalf
of the French Republic, it is also because this work that you
do us the immense honor and the immense pleasure to offer us comes to carry
to its akmê a work that has not ceased to live of its ability to
renew and conquer new territories of emotion, expression
and even of thought.
Dear Cy TWOMBLY, on behalf of the President of the Republic and under the
powers granted to us, we give you the insignia of
Knight of the Legion of Honor.