I went off to the Louvre to take a look at the new ceiling created by Cy Twombly for the Salle des Bronzes (1st floor, Sully Wing) – great proof that this vast palace and museum is still a living part of Paris and the most up-to-date of Parisian art institutions.
Part of a programme to bring works by living artists into the Louvre, in the lineage of a decorative tradition ranging from Charles Le Brun’s opulent royal allegories in the 17th century to Georges Braque's birds in the next door gallery, Twombly's painting is both contemporary and timeless – a sea-blue, sky-blue celestial ceiling, dotted with planet-like rondels and inscriptions in Greek of the names of Ancient Greek sculptors. Showing just how pointless are all those endless debates about the relevance or not of painting today, it is daringly modern and also perfectly appropriate for the antiquities displayed below. 82-year-old American artist Cy Twombly today mainly lives in Italy and is best known for his mysterious, near invisible, script-like paintings. Here, though, you can see him as a wonderful colourist. The Ceiling fluctuates brilliantly between the flat blue of modern abstraction and the infinite depth of the soaring sky. There's a discussion about The Ceiling between Richard Leeman and Alex Potts at the Louvre on Wednesday May 5 at 8pm (www.louvre.fr).
The Louvre is so huge it can be a bewildering experience on a first visit. Be prepared to get mildly lost (plentiful signs for the Pyramid will always help you find your way out of the maze) and be ready to make discoveries. Also see my guide Best of Paris: living beside the Louvre for advice on where to stay, eat and shop nearby, and visit my pages on Paris for further advice on visiting the city.