As I boarded the plane with my boyfriend and his family to head back to — might I quickly admit — a rather grey, rainy and cold London, I quickly nabbed a copy of Bespoke Magazine‘s latest issue. While we were seated and waiting for everyone. else. to. board, I started to flip through the magazine and I stumbled across an article on the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which I had visited the previous day. Nadia Michel, who wrote the article, couldn’t have summed up the curation of the newly launched museum better:
“One element that has clearly required a lot of attention from him [Jean-Luc Martinez] and his team is the collection, flow and display of the artworks, which betray a politico-cultural bent. ‘It’s a message of open minds at a time of extremism,” he says. It would seem, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has made a conscious effort to send a message of inclusiveness by grouping works by similarities, regardless of their origin – as opposed to dividing them into time periods, countries of origin or even artistic movements.'”
This is something I couldn’t agree more with (as I started nodding to my boyfriend on the plane and pointing out the paragraph, hoping he would agree too). Quite frankly, the architecture is even better in person — the photos online don’t do it justice — and the amalgamation of artists and stylistic movements is both refreshing and innovative in its curation. As Michel states, “nowhere is this more visible than in the Universal Religion exhibit, where a display sees Saudi relics placed close to a French Virgin and Child figure from the 1500s and a Jewish funerary statue from the 1200s.”
Imagine a museum that is not large and imposing, but cool and collected utilising and recognising the outdoor space and fresh Abu Dhabi air into its architecture. The expansive courtyard area and various seating areas throughout the museum are a breath of fresh air as you can literally sit down by the water and dip your toes in. The repetition of white is almost reminiscent of Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969) and is at the pinnacle of modern and contemporary architecture yet exudes a futuristic feel.
You are taken on a historical journey, examining various stylistic and cultural movements from the Greece, Rome and Egypt all the way to the Far East. The variety of pieces is compelling as you navigate your way through time exploring and naturally, comparing and contrasting different cultures. Notable pieces are of course the ‘Madonna and Child’ by Giovanni Bellini, a self-portrait by Van Gogh, Monet’s’ ‘The Saint-Lazare Station’ and the ‘La Belle Ferronniere’ by Leonardo da Vinci. My favourite art historical period is 20th century modern art, so I was delighted to see some pioneering artists of the various avant-garde movements such as Kandinsky, Dali, Man Ray, Giacometti, Derain, Rothko, Pollock and Duchamp. Visitors are then brought back to present day at the end of the ‘tour’ with contemporary artists such as a large Ai WeiWei sculptural piece that dominates majority of the final room.
“This tells the story of globalisation,” Martinez asserts, which couldn’t be more prevalent in today’s society.