Art lovers in the capital are bursting with anticipation as we watch the Louvre Abu Dhabi rise from the dunes. To appease them, the museum is offering two more sneak peek exhibitions.
In advance of its opening, the Louvre Abu Dhabi continues to drop breadcrumbs for art lovers with preview exhibitions at the Manarat Al Saadiyat museum. The Louvre Abu Dhabi will showcase the latest additions to the permanent collection in the exhibition ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories’ which will run June 21-August 30.
The showcase of the new acquisitions will be divided into two displays; ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Al Qalam’ (Jun 21-Jul 25) and ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Immortal Figures’ (Jul 28-Aug 30). Both presentations are linked by the impressive Fayum portrait of a boy, which is the cornerstone of this selection of works. The portrait is a fine example of an Egyptian funerary painting that would traditionally have been placed on the face of a mummified body.
The first display, ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Al Qalam’, which in Arabic means ‘the pen’, explores the art and development of the written word, featuring a broad selection of textual artworks including a Qur’an bifolio, miniatures and a manuscript.
The second display, ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Immortal Figures’, is a celebration of sculptures from across the globe and offers the opportunity to explore the story of human figural representation through the ages. This selection will include a wooden carving Uli statue from New Ireland, a Nepalese gilt copper figure of Maitreya, and an Italian bust of Saint Peter Martyr. The selected artworks that will be shown during the two displays were acquired in 2014 as part of the ongoing acquisitions for Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Celine Pouyat, senior project manager of Louvre Abu Dhabi, says, ‘The objects on display exemplify how artworks created by different civilisations can complement one another in their composition, style and representation. Together, these artistic creations can be considered as a harmonised symphony.’
Hissa Al Dhaheri, programmes manager of Louvre Abu Dhabi, adds, ‘Supported by an interactive public programme developed to engage communities of all backgrounds, interests and age, Louvre Abu Dhabi continues to showcase its growing collection to local and international audiences. This display will give the public the opportunity to view the museum’s growing permanent collection ahead of its grand opening this year, broadening awareness of the museum’s curatorial identity.’
As the Al Qalam exhibit coincides with the Holy Month of Ramadan, TOAD asks Louvre Abu Dhabi researcher Mohamed Abdulla Al Mansoori if this exhibition reflects some of the more solemn artworks in the collection. He explains, ‘The Al Qalam exhibition coincides with the Holy Month, and the narrative of the exhibit opens with the Qur’an leaf, which represents how the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had his first revelation during the Holy Month of Ramadan and captures the spirit of the month.’
Al Mansoori further explains, ‘The word is the universal identity of knowledge. Al Qalam, the title of the display, means ‘the pen’, which is of course the universal tool of knowledge; it’s used to preserve and to record. All of these unique objects represent the word as it was depicted in its time and its land. Each artwork has its unique place in time and history. These art objects squarely fit in the geography of the new museum and tell the story of the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the exchange of knowledge.’
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection comprises more than 500 artworks which will be complemented by approximately 300 loans from major French institutions in its opening year. The museum will adopt a unique curatorial trail that moves away from the traditional compartmentalisation of artworks and artefacts by their geographical origins or traditional chronologies of art history. Instead, works from different cultures and civilisations will be shown side by side to highlight the similarities and differences in how common themes are explored.
Don’t miss either exhibition if you would like to get a window into the permanent collection of this world-class museum. Louvre Abu Dhabi is on track to open in 2015, and these previews intend to whet art lovers’ appetites until that date.
Manarat Al Saadiyat is open daily 9am-2pm and 8.30pm-11.30pm during Ramadan, and 9am-8pm after Ramadan. Public programmes and workshops will coincide with the display. Full details will be available soon at www.louvreabudhabi.ae.