Thursday, January 17, 2013

Phantasms at the Louvre (Enki Bilal Exhibition), or, How to Have the Best Date Night Ever in Paris

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You have to try the Louvre at night.  I went for the first time in the evening last night and I will NEVER go back again during the day-time.  It is open until 9:45 on Wednesday and Friday nights and it is the best.  The Louvre, the building itself, was originally a decadent palace for an extremely decadent monarch, this is how the rooms look at night:

It is moody, dark, beautiful, extremely romantic...this is the best date night ever because of the foremost reason to visit the Louvre in the evening - it's empty.  Perfect for stealing kisses amongst ancient treasures of the's like a movie, I can't stand it, I love Paris! *reigning myself back in*

Honestly, the best part is the lack of crowds.  The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world (8.5 million visitors every year averaging about 30,000 people a day!!!) but that means every single freakin' tourist has to make a pit-stop here to say they made it.  During the summer, you can't move or even see any of the exhibitions it is so unbelievably crowded, not to mention super warm.  The most annoying part is the endless groups of tourists robotically following their group leader in a daze while s/he provides commentary.  It is completely stifling and exhausting.

But check out the Mona Lisa room last even GET INTO the room last summer I had to wage major battle with my elbows and mean Asian eyes:

I couldn't believe how empty the room was.  The Mona Lisa would be the tiny painting under bulletproof glass at the end of the room.  Yes, I can confirm that her eyes follow you around the room.

Random photo of the soaring ceilings...the building itself is so beautiful!!!  Can you imagine being Louis XIV and this is your home?! (And then ditching it for Versailles!)
So the primary reason we were there last night was for an exhibition by Enki Bilal, a famous French graphic novelist.  He created a series called Les Phantasms Du Louvre...he swore that he felt ghosts all around when he walked around the relics and artifacts from thousands of years ago and so he drew them into paintings of some of the more famous exhibits.

Rightfully or not, the Louvre's archives from ancient cultures such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Persia are probably the foremost in the world and indeed when walking through the huge cuneiforms and entire rooms stolen taken from temples and the Pharaoh's tombs/pyramids from 5,000 years is definitely eerie...

I particularly like this work because I'm fond of the original painting...despite what it looks like, it's not at all a sexual painting.  It is of Gabrille d'Estrees, mistress of Henry the IV ( she is the one holding King Kenry's coronation ring), and her sister.  Her sister pinching her nipple is symbolic of Gabrielle's maternity; the painting is an announcement of Gabrielle's pregnancy.  For some weird reason, I think it is charming and a little funny, a sentiment I feel Bilal echoes with the playful ghost.  
The room the exhibition was in is breathtaking, just like every other single room in this colossal museum. 
I hope I've convinced you to try the museum at night.  It's such a privilege to be able to walk through miles and miles of ancient treasures in the soft glow of evening lights without any interruption whatsoever.  There are also lots of genuinely good restaurants and bars around the area for post-museum cocktails = Best Date Night Ever.

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