Jean-Philippe Toussaint — Livre/Louvre


Installation, new media

Jean-Philippe Toussaint

Past: March 8 → June 11, 2012

As part of the series of events dedicated to the arts of the book, the Louvre has extended an invitation to the Belgian writer and filmmaker Jean-Philippe Toussaint, who has devised an exhibition entitled “Livre/Louvre” bringing together photographs, videos, installations and performance pieces to “explore the theme of the book without focusing on writing.”

Through this exhibition, Jean-Philippe Toussaint contemplates reading, the passage of time, and literature. Among other subjects, he deals with the notions of libraries and collections, with a particular focus on the Edmond de Rothschild Collection in the Louvre’s Department of Prints and Drawings. Toussaint also trains his gaze on intellectual activity through an installation combining drawings by Le Brun with a performance piece involving a glass stall that is the scene of an experiment.

In addition, the artist has produced two large photographic compositions specifically for the exhibition. The first, entitled Tuesday at the Louvre, sheds fresh light on the life of the museum on the day of the week when it is closed to the public, while the second is a group portrait of contemporary writers freely inspired by Fantin-Latour’s Homage to Delacroix. Similarly, the eternity of the written word and the ephemeral nature of reading are brought into dialogue through the exceptional juxtaposition of the original manuscript of Beckett’s En attendant Godot, together with the eighth edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy, both presented alongside nine electronic tablets displaying translations of Dante’s opus in different languages.

Jean-Philippe Toussaint is a writer and filmmaker who graduated from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris in 1978 and holds a DEA (diploma of advanced studies) in contemporary history. He is the author of nine novels written in a minimalist style, all published by Editions de Minuit. Artist-in-residence at the Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto, Japan in 1996, Toussaint was awarded the Prix Médicis for Fuir in 2005. His novels have been translated into some twenty languages. The “joyful reduction to essentials” deployed in Toussaint’s written works is carried to the extreme in his cinematographic productions.

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Jean Philippe Toussaint, Mains, Détails, 0 Photographies © J.P. Toussaint, 2012
The Love of Reading (2005–2012)

The first section of the exhibition presents a wall of images made up of a series of 84 photographs by J.-P. Toussaint. Luminous and boldly detailed, they show the effects of the passage of time, where the books are almost always the same, while clothing and faces change.

In this same section, two exceptional manuscripts from the Edmond de Rothschild Collection are also presented: Dante’s Divine Comedy and the original manuscript of Samuel Beckett’s En attendant Godot. These two manuscripts are shown alongside the computer on which the novel Fuir was written.

The Universe (which some call the Library)

In this vast, luminous installation calling to mind the heavenly firmament, Jean-Philippe Toussaint draws an analogy between the library and the universe, where the learnedly ordered library is the world. The word “book” is a focal point of the exhibition, as evidenced by neon signs spelling out the translations of this word in many different languages.

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Jean Philippe Toussaint, Mardi au Louvre, Détails, 0 © J.P. Toussaint, 2012
Tuesday at the Louvre

Tuesday at the Louvre is a original photographic composition by the artist, which aims to depict life at the Louvre on Tuesday, the day when the museum is closed to the public, evoking works of other artists depicting studio paintings. Ladders, scaffolding and installers are the main protagonists in Toussaint’s composition, which is dominated by Delacroix’s masterpiece The Death of Sardanapalus.

Group portrait of writers

This section features a photographic portrait of several writers (Pierre Bayard, Emmanuel Carrère, Philippe Djian, Jean Echenoz, Oliver Rolin and Jean-Philippe Toussaint) assembled around a Delacroix engraving, freely inspired by Henri Fantin-Latour’s celebrated painting, Homage to Delacroix, encouraging dialogue between the past and the present.

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Jean Philippe Toussaint, Autoportrait en lecteur, 0 © J.P. Toussaint, 2012
LIRE/LIVE, an original installation

This last section of the exhibition is a performance installation, involving a live model sitting on a chair in a glass stall reading a book, wearing a helmet fitted with electrodes, which is connected to a control panel recording everything happening in the model’s mind while reading. Despite the medical environment, this apparent scientific reality is nothing other than a ruse, since the data shown on screen are actually part of an original video work by Jean-Philippe Toussaint derived from medical image recordings. Three Self-portraits as reader are presented opposite this installation, together with anatomical drawings by Charles Le Brun from the Louvre’s collections.

  • Trois Fragments de Fuir - Le Louvre Trois Fragments de Fuir — Jean-Philippe Toussaint Screening March 3 → June 11, 2012

    A three-part cinematographic voyage, featuring Dolores Chaplin and filmed specifically for the exhibition “Livre/Louvre” by Jean- Philippe Toussaint, adapted from his novel Fuir, published by Editions de Minuit, winner of the 2005 Prix Médicis.

  • La Ricotta de Pier Paolo Pasolini & La Patinoire de Jean-Philippe Toussaint Screening Friday, May 4, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    La Ricotta : Second segment of the omnibus film RoGoPaG by Roberto Rossellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ugo Gregoretti. With Orson Welles and Mario Cipriani and La Patinoire : with Tom Novembre, Mireille Perrier, Marie-France Pisier, Bruce Campbell and Dolores Chaplin.

  • Trois Fragments de Fuir de Jean-Philippe Toussaint & La Déraison du Louvre d’Ange Leccia Screening Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Films presented by Jean-Philippe Toussaint and Ange Leccia.

  • La Jetée de Chris Marker & Berlin de Jean-Philippe Toussaint et Torsten C. Fischer Screening Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 3 PM

    Films presented by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

  • The Love Nest (Frigo et la baleine) de Buster Keaton & La Salle de bain de John Lvoff Screening Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    The Love Nest is the only one of Buster Keaton’s silent short films for which he took sole writing and directing credit and La Salle de bain : Written by Jean-Philippe Toussaint and John Lvoff With Tom Novembre and Gunilla Karlzen.

  • Le Permis de conduire Sketch de Jean Yanne et Lawrence Riesner & La Sévillane de Jean-Philippe Toussaint Screening Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Films presented by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

  • Film De Samuel Beckett et Alan Schneider & Monsieur de Jean-Philippe Toussaint Screening Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 5 PM

    Films presented by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

  • Providence d’Alain Resnais Screening Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 3 PM

    With John Gielgud, Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn and David Warner.

  • La Notte de Michelangelo Antonioni Screening Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Films presented by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

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Palais royal, musée du Louvre

75001 Paris

Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre

Opening hours

Every day except Tuesday, 9 AM – 6 PM
Late night on Wednesday, Friday until 9:30 PM
Lundi, jeudi, samedi, dimanche : fermeture des salles à partir de 17h30

Admission fee

Full rate €15.00

D’octobre à mars : le premier dimanche de chaque mois, l’accès aux collections permanentes est gratuit pour tous.

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The artist

  • Jean Philippe Toussaint