A Record-Breaking Year at the Louvre Thanks to Bey, Jay-Z and Eug...

A Record-Breaking Year at the Louvre Thanks to Bey, Jay-Z and Eug D

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It’s official! The Musée du Louvre announced on January 3, 2019 that their attendance of 10.9 million visitors in 2018 surpassed their previous high of 9.7 million in 2012. The increase since 2017 was 25%. What brought more crowds to this glorious palace of art? Could it be the colorful swashbuckling strokes of Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix, whose retrospective graced its noble galleries from March 29th through July 23rd? Maybe.

More likely, the blingy glam video “Apesh*t” produced and starring the King and Queen of the Music Industry, Mr. and Mrs. Carter, better known to us as Beyoncé and Jay Z. Woven into a dizzying tapestry of masterpieces and minor pieces filmed in situ at the Louvre, this media extravaganza, directed by Ricky Saiz and choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, celebrates their latest album Everything is Love: The Carters. More astonishingly, this already award-winning video dropped during the Carters’ ambitious multi-national summer 2018 tour On the Run II. The amount of energy and creativity required for such excellence defies imagination. Benoît Debie received the 2018 MTV Award for best cinematography. The video’s song was co-written by Pharrell Williams, Beyoncé Knowles, Shawn Carter, Quavious Keyate Marshall, and Kiari Kendrell Cephus, and co-produced by Pharrell Williams, Beyoncé, Jay Z and Stuart White.

Eugène Delacroix, Self-Portrait, 1837
Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm, Louvre –Public Domain

But what does the video mean, my students asked? What do all those Egyptian, Classical and European works of art infer about Bey, Jay and post-Lemonade? Jay Z claims that their art is their therapy. Could be. I think the lyrics explain it all to you.

So carefully watch, listen and repeat, several times. Remember to stop the video in order to study each scene. For example, the dancers in front of Jacques-Louis David’s Sacré de Napoleon, aka Coronation of Emperor Napoleon, 1805-7, remind me of Pre-Dynastic Egyptian goddess figures. Next, get thee to the Louvre to follow our exclusive Bonjour Paris self-guided “Beyoncé and Jay Z at the Louvre” tour, presented here with captions in English. By doing so, you contribute to the next record-breaking year for the Louvre in 2019. Happy Hunting!

Leonardo da Vinci, La Gioconde/Mona Lisa, 1503-5. Collection RMN-Grand Palais.
Notre Dame de Paris, begun 1163. Photo credit: Peter Haas/ Wikimedia Commons
Gargoyle perched on Notre Dame. Photo credit: Noemiseh91/Wikimedia Commons
View of Notre-Dame cathedral from the Seine. Photo credit: Madhurantakam/Wikimedia Commons
Apollo Gallery, Louvre in 1900. Public domain
Eugène Delacroix, Apollo Vanquishing the Python, 1850. Musée du Louvre
Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784
Winged Victory of Samothrace
Winged Victory of Samothrace, c. 150 BC. Public Domain
Jacques-Louis David, The Intervention of the Sabine Women, 1799
Egyptian, “Great Sphinx” of Amenemhat II, 19th Dynasty, c. 1914-1879 BC. Photo credit: edwin.11/ Wikimedia commons
Louvre, Gallery of 19th century Masters
Jacques-Louis David, Coronation of Napoléon, 1805-7. Louvre. Public domain
Egyptian, Pre-Dynastic, Goddess Figure, c. 3500 BC. Louvre.
Jacques-Louis David, Self-Portrait, 1794. Public domain
Jacques-Louis David, Madame Recamier, 1800. Public domain 
Jacques-Louis David, Portrait of Pope Pius, 1805.
Ary Sheffer, Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta Appraised by Virgil and Dante, 1835. Louvre. Public domain
Rosso Fiorentino, Pietá, 1530. Public domain
Andrea Solario, Madonna with the Green Cushion, 1507-10. Public domain
Théodore Géricault, Charging Horsemen, 1812. Collection of the Louvre
Théodore Géricault, Raft of the Medusa, 1819. Collection of the Louvre
Palais du Louvre, Pyramid added in 1989, by I.M. Pei. Photo: Benh LIEU SONG/ Wikimedia commons
Influenced by Lysippos, Hermes Tying his Sandal, original was 4th century. This is a Roman copy, c. 2nd AD. Photo: Ricardo André Frantz/ Wikimedia commons
Hellenistic, Venus de Milo, c. 100 BC. Photo: Livioandronico2013 / Wikimedia commons
Paolo Veronese, The Wedding Feast at Cana, 1563. Collection of the Louvre
Marie-Guillemine Benoist, Portrait of a Black Woman, 1800. Public domain


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Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, Ph.D. is an art historian and the director of the New York Arts Exchange, an arts education service that offers tours and lectures in the New York tristate area. She specializes in the study of Cubism and has published on the art criticism of Apollinaire’s close friend, poet/art critic/journalist André Salmon. She teaches art history at Purchase College in Westchester, New York. She has recently published a book with French poet/literary critic Jean-Luc Pouliquen called "Transatlantic Conversation: About Poetry and Art."