Louvre Lens Galerie du Temps

Galerie du Temps

When I heard about the "Time Gallery", showing artworks from the same period and from different regions and cultures in successive "rows", I wanted to go as soon as possible on this time voyage of about 5000 years. In fact, you have to slalom when you want to see all the works of each period before going on to the next. It turned out a bit less fascinating than I had hoped for: The pieces representing different cultures at a point in time were less striking than I had expected them to be in a Louvre. But my ignorance may have misled me, and the exhibited pieces may well be "quintessential" of their period. And maybe no museum in the world could have assembled so many quintessential pieces over such a long period and from so many cultures.

If you walk a straight line through the ages from the statue of Gudea, King of Lagash (around 2130 BC), to that of Ferdinand-Philippe, duc d'Orléans, by Jean-Louis Jaley (1844), you cannot help feeling another deception: in roughly 4000 years, craftsmanship seems to have evolved but not artistic power. The statue of the Duke is very refined in its execution, but the person singularly lacks expressive intensity. (There is just some mild arrogance and pompousness.) 4000 years of artistic evolution for that? If you look at it from the opposite point of view, this is a very positive experience: Human beings have been very powerful artists at all ages.

Reading about the architecture of the Louvre Lens also made me want to go: The aluminium panels promised to provide some very special reflections. Since I am afraid that the thin aluminium film may quickly suffer from unintentional (or even badly intentioned) visitors, I wanted to be there early in the life of the building, before it bears too many scars.
The "hangars" are not very spectacular, but if you look at them as special versions of the industrial buildings the area used to be full of, the idea of the architects becomes more attractive. The outer aluminium skin lets them blend very discreetly with the landscape. On grey days (like the one we chose for our visit), you can hardly discern the contours of the buildings against the sky.
Unfortunately, I went without my "real" camera, so I can only offer impressions captured with my smartphone. Enough reason for another excursion...

Louvre Lens Reflection No.1 My favourite reflection: Looking at centuries along a time gallery, your view becomes blurred. I like the single visitor outside (and inside) the blurred reflection, trying to look at "the real image", and yet being part of the blurred image.

Louvre Lens - Praetorians Fragment du décor d'un arc de triomphe : garde rapprochée de l'empereur (prétoriens) (see here for the "real" image)

Louvre Lens Reflection No.3Tired visitors being exhorted to go on?

Louvre Lens Concrete GardenConcrete Garden