| ||In 1986 the French artist Daniel Buren created a 3,000-square-meter (32,300-square-foot) sculpture in the great courtyard of the Palais-Royal. «Buren’s Columns» provoked a furious debate over the integration of contemporary art and historic buildings. Long considered the heart of Paris, the Palais-Royal was built in 1635 by the architect Jacques Lemercier at the request of Cardinal Richelieu, as an expression of the growing centralization of power within the monarchy. Of the original building, known at the time as the Palais-Cardinal, only the gallery of the Prows survives. The present buildings essentially date from the Restoration (1814). The Palais-Royal’s architecture, altered many times, is a résumé of several centuries of art. Almost all of the many dignitaries who occupied it left an artistic trace as a mark of their power. When the ministry of culture commissioned Daniel Buren to work on the Palais-Royal’s great courtyard, he joined an old political and architectural tradition. A couple of years later, I.M. Pei’s pyramid, commissioned by François Mitterrand, opened in the courtyard of the Louvre, just a stone’s throw away.
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