The Secret of the Great Pyramid by JR at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France

Optical illusion added to IM Pei's Louvre pyramid then immediately destroyed

Artist JR has created a giant 3D optical illusion from paper that imagines the iconic pyramid at the Musée du Louvre in Paris continuing underground, but it has already been destroyed.

Named The Secret of the Great Pyramid, the trompe l'oeil was made from 2,000 stickers surrounding Pritzker Prize-winning architect IM Pei's glass building, making it appear to project out from a white excavated crater.

At 17,000-square-metres, it was French street artist JR's largest collage to date. But within a day it was left in shreds after visitors traipsed across it.

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JR said it was his intention for the piece to have a short life.

"The images, like life, are ephemeral. Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers," he said on Twitter.

"This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence."

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The project was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Louvre pyramid. On Saturday, JR shared a photo on his Instagram taken from a storeroom on the third floor of the museum, inviting the public to take a look.

A day later he posted another taken image from the same angle, which revealed the damage. Screens have since been installed surrounding the museum entrance for visitors to see the original design of The Secret of the Great Pyramid alongside a time-lapse video of its creation.

"The Louvre Pyramid is a work of art in its own right, a modern icon. Since its creation, it makes dream and inspires the greatest artists," said Jean-Luc Martinez, director of the Louvre.

"So when JR came to see me, three years after his first spectacular intervention on the Pyramid in 2016, to present me a new proposal of collaborative work, I was immediately seduced. It magnifies this iconic monument and allows everyone to reappropriate it through a popular and festive performance."

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The Secret of the Great Pyramid isn't the first installation by JR at the Louvre pyramid. In 2016, he made it disappear using a photographic mural of the Louvre Palace that sits behind it.

Other creatives to use the trompe l'oeil technique include Brooklyn-based Bower Studios that has designed mirrors that look like arcades and portholes, as well as interior designer Kelly Hoppen and celebrity magician Dynamo's 3D-effect wall coverings. Photo is courtesy of JR-ART.net