You see the white island, rather an oasis surrounded by turquoise blue waters from three sides, and then you enter in those comfor
You see the white island, rather an oasis surrounded by turquoise blue waters from three sides, and then you enter in those comfortable spaces under a hard/harsh sun. The structure of Louvre Abu Dhabi reveals an elegance only possible through simplicity. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the museum is divided into more than 50 buildings: main hall of permanent collection, other areas for rotating shows, lecture theatre, children’s area, a huge courtyard – covered by what is popularly known as ‘the nest’ but in reality, inspired by dome of Islamic architecture. It is a roof with gaps and open spaces within, which conveys the effect of interwoven lines – nest, reinforced by birds’ sounds, managed mechanically. The roof, called “Rain of Light by Nouvel – is a work of art in itself, with sunlight piercing its eight layers and 400,000 aluminum and stainless steel components, projecting geometric shapes on the floor below”.
Island. Because Louvre Abu Dhabi apart from being built on Saadiyat Island, is an island of art, in a region surrounded by multiple currents. Of political turmoil, military threats, economic unbalance, and the crisis of freedom. A land that generally perceived promotes and protects tradition, and is situated in the East, but have also opened up to outside world in the spheres of art and culture.
Thus, the French museum, originally located in the heart of Paris can be visited again, on the soil (and waters) of the Gulf State. The outcome of an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France, it opened in November 2017. Apart from its fabulous architecture, the layout of display also communicates a logic and link in connecting two worlds. Often described as ‘mainstream’ and ‘periphery’.
As the museum “celebrates the universal creativity of mankind”, in the permanent galleries exhibits are arranged not according to their association with a specific land, or a certain timeline, but on the basis of thematic connection. In which religions, rituals, tools, toys, ornaments, scripts, are elements to bond diverse artefacts created at distant lands and in different periods. So what a viewer sees could be the stone relief depicting the face of a queen or goddess from Egypt dating back to 360-282 BCE, but he also finds other such images from other civilizations and ages. For example, two statutes ‘Disc-shaped idol with two heads’ about 2000 BCE from Turkey, and ‘Plank idol with two heads’ dated 2300-1900 BCE’ are placed next to ‘Monumental statue with two heads’ made about 6500 BCE in Jordan, an order of installation that makes a spectator realize the common connection in human thought, beliefs and expressions.
This kind of arrangement, if “invites audiences to see humanity in a new light”, it also unpacks the constructs of standard, value, and beauty. Thus works from civilizations and periods familiar across the world are placed next to pieces belonging to regions or eras, relatively not much known yet. Due to this “innovative curatorial approach, the museum focuses on building understanding across cultures: through stories of human creativity that transcend civilizations, geographies and times”.
A series of three monumental works illustrates the museum’s philosophy fully. Jenny Holzer’s huge stone reliefs are engraved with historic texts: “Ibn Khaldun’s ‘Muqaddimah’, from Istanbul; an Arcadian and Sumerian ‘Creation Myth’ tablet currently housed in Berlin; and the 1588 ‘Essais’ by Michel de Montaigne from the Bordeaux
Municipal Library”. White surface of the stone walls with scripts of different languages and societies, appear like pages with writing on them. The artist, through this incredible (commissioned) artwork, tried to represent “the cultural dialogue between civilizations—while focusing on how this dialogue was and is realized with words.”
In the halls of permanents galleries, a visitor comes across art, artefacts and objects which were made for multiple reasons and various functions but are now considered ‘art’. Reminding of Jean Baudrillard’s comment about in what terms today’s art would be perceived five hundred years later. A great contribution of Louvre Abu Dhabi is to build bridges and break barriers, thus one can view works from ancient civilizations as well as of contemporary art. Paintings produced in Paris, and mixed media installations created in the Middle East. In a sense, Louvre Abu Dhabi is like ‘www’, a resource that contains information and knowledge of distant lands, is housed at one space, but does not belong to one location. Here hierarchies are melted and dismantled, so right after the entrance point, a visitor comes across nine large scale paintings of Cy Twombly, installed behind the unhewn stone pieces with carving, excavated from the Middle East region, and starts to trace links between spontaneous marks made by the American master and the raw forms shaped by some unknown individual centuries ago.
Louvre Abu Dhabi “houses 600 artworks it has acquired, alongside 300 works on loan from 13 leading French institutions” which include paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Gaugin, Vincent van Gogh, several Impressionist painters, Pablo Picasso Jackson Pollock and many other modern and contemporary artists.
Perhaps a huge significance of this museum is that it brings mainstream into periphery, while diminishing the distance between two demarcations. Generating a new definition of present art world – that finally is turning/proving to be a globe, on which everything is bound to slip, slide and spread: ideas, inventions, products, practices, fashions etc., originating from one point and disseminating to other parts of the planet.