Artist Luc Tuymans creates frescoes on Louvre walls based on his own missing works

Belgian artist Luc Tuymans presented his latest installation at the Louvre this week. The museum invited him to create frescoes on the walls that will remain on display for a year before being painted over.

Tuymans's fresco L'Orphelin (The Orphan) is a reimagining of one of his own paintings from 1990, which went missing. The original piece was a ​ 32cm x 34cm oil painting based on a photograph of a German doll head.

The new installation at the Louvre, which faithfully recreates this work on a much larger scale, also incorporates elements from Tuymans’s 2022 exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery in Paris. This show featured fragmentary images taken from a YouTube video of a New Zealand painter cleaning his supplies.

The Orphan, housed in an octagonal gallery connecting the Sully and Richelieu wings, is the title of Tuymans’s new Louvre series. It consists of four 4.5m-high murals made with theatre paint. These murals will be publicly accessible until 26 May 2025, after which they will be painted over and replaced with works from the Louvre’s permanent collection.

Luc Tuymans working on his piece at the Louvre © PHOTO MUSEE DU LOUVRE
Luc Tuymans working on his piece at the Louvre © PHOTO MUSEE DU LOUVRE

The museum has described this project as "an exceptional intervention" by Tuymans, emphasising the return of painting within and on the walls of the Louvre. The fresco, composed of four panels, will be in the Valentin rotunda, near the Flemish masters.

Tuymans is renowned for addressing historical atrocities in his work, such as the Holocaust and Belgium’s colonial legacy in Africa. The Orphan also carries its own violent implications.

This is not Tuymans's first temporary mural. He has previously created similar works for the MSK in Ghent and on the streets of Antwerp, showcasing his ability to transform public and institutional spaces with his thought-provoking art.

#FlandersNewsService | Luc Tuymans poses in front of his work The Orphan at the Louvre © PHOTO JOEL SAGET / AFP

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