Louvre Abu Dhabi will open its next exhibition on 22 April at Saadiyat Island showcasing important works of art from the Louvre Abu Dhabi permanent collection, some of which have never been seen or revealed before.
Running until 20 July, almost 130 art works will be shown in Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District’s art and exhibition centre, and will give visitors insight into the museum’s narrative and collection ahead of its opening in 2015.
Commenting on the latest milestone for the Saadiyat Cultural District, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism ‘&’ Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) said: “The aim of this exhibition is to evoke the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ambiance and aesthetics, and to begin to tell the story of the birth of this museum. The whole exhibition experience is another chance for visitors from the United Arab Emirates and abroad, to see the remarkable art works in the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection as we prepare for the museum’s opening. Even before opening its doors, Louvre Abu Dhabi is setting its precedent as a place of cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.” Born of an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France, Louvre Abu Dhabi will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance. The museum and its growing permanent collection is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi. Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures all over the world, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.
Like the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the exhibition proposes a singular and original rereading of the history of art and is built around several key artistic and aesthetic questions core to the identity of the new museum: universalism, the comparison between art works from great civilisations from the most ancient times to the contemporary and the multidisciplinary nature of artistic creation. It will also explore the status of the work of art, through universal themes in the exhibition such as questions of the Figure and the Sacred.
Art works include one of the finest examples of a standing Bactrian Princess from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, a Middle-Eastern gold bracelet with a lion’s head approximately 3000 years-old, a painting titled The Good Samaritan by Jacob Jordaens one of the major Flemish painter from the 17th century and a painting by Oman Hemdy Bey from the 1878, titled ‘A Young Emir Studying’, a selection of the James Ivory miniature collection includes fine examples of the chivalry ideals of the Rajputs schools depicted and an evolving dialogue between East and West culminates at the end of the exhibition in a cycle of nine canvases by contemporary artist Cy Twombly.
As with all exhibitions organised in preparation for the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District, it will be supported by a diverse Cultural Programme of talks, tours and workshops and a book detailing a significant part of the collection acquired to date will also be published.
Henri Loyrette, President-Director of the Louvre Museum, said: “This exhibition is a major milestone in the realisation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in so far as it unveils the admirable and high quality of the art works that will reflect the heart of the future Museum’s permanent collection. Moreover, this exhibition will embody remarkably the essence of the forthcoming birth of this universal museum. The exhibition will travel from Abu Dhabi to Paris to be presented at the Louvre in Paris in October 2013.” Another milestone for the museum’s ongoing cultural programme is the second Louvre Abu Dhabi: Talking Art Series, (running monthly until the 26 June 2013), a rich programme of public events which explore the significance of individual art works both in art historical terms and in the context of the museum’s growing collection, which began in October 2012. This is supported by an expanding education programme with school and University students throughout the United Arab Emirates.
Construction of the iconic building designed by Jean Nouvel has begun on Saadiyat Island and the Museography design is in progress. With a built up area of 64,000 square metres, Louvre Abu Dhabi is conceived as a complex of pavilions, plazas, alleyways and canals, evoking the image of a city floating on the sea. Hovering over the complex will be a form inspired by traditional Arabic architecture: a vast, shallow dome – some 180 metres in diameter – perforated with interlaced patterns so that a magical, diffused light will filter through.
Birth of a Museum is the thirteenth exhibition held prior to the opening of the Saadiyat Cultural District museums. Exhibitions are now at Manarat Al Saadiyat, the art exhibition centre on Saadiyat Island which has been open since 2009.
The general curator of the exhibition is Laurence des Cars, Curatorial Director of Agence France-Museums (AFM), who is supported by a TCA Abu Dhabi and AFM team of diversified skill sets. Museography is done by architect Jean-Francois Bodin.