Leonardo da Vinci

Italia • 1452−1519

First-day visitors, including over 1,000 people for the opening day, got astounded by the world-class art and architecture of the museum.

The 97,000-square-metre Louvre, designed by a French architect Jean Nouvel, is located on Saadiyat Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi and includes 23 permanent galleries.

The museum’s 600-piece permanent collection forms an art historical narrative taking the visitor from ancient times to the contemporary. In some way, Louvre Abu Dhabi will help to transform a small desert emirate into a mecca of high culture. It presents pieces of art from different cultures, and it opens the mind.

The Louvre des Sables (Louvre of the Sands), as it was nicknamed, was conceived in 2007. The city of Abu Dhabi has a 30 year agreement with the French government, according to which Louvre Abu could borrow the art world’s most widely recognised brand name (in addition, US$525 million was paid by Abu Dhabi to be associated with the Louvre name), along with about 300 treasures from the 13 key French institutions, most saliently the Louvre, but also from the Musée d’Orsay, the Château Fontainebleau, the Centre Pompidou and others.

In fact, these artworks  will be on display in the opening year alone, including the famous works by the masters as Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Matisse, Edouard Manet and Vincent van Gogh. 

Louvre Abu Dhabi is a one of a kind universal museum in the entire Arab region.

A general view taken on November 6, 2017 shows a room at the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum during a media tour prior to the official opening of the museum on Saadiyat island in the Emirati capital on November 8. GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP.

The highly-anticipated museum has caused a massive buzz across the global art scene ever since the ambitious project was unveiled. The concept of the museum was born from an intergovernmental agreement between Abu Dhabi and France.

Inspired by the medina (the old walled part of a town) and low-lying Arab settlements, Nouvel applied a contextual approach to the site, designing the Louvre Abu Dhabi as a ‘museum city’ in the sea with its contrasting series of 55 white buildings.
Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Designboom
The 180 meter-wide and eight-layered dome covers the majority of the museum, and is one of its defining features. The complex pattern of the dome is the result of a studied geometric design, repeated at various sizes and angles in eight superimposed layers. So each ray of sunlight that hits the dome has to penetrate the eight layers before appearing, then disappearing, creating a cinematic effect inside the structure.
Louvre Abu Dhabi. Germination by Giuseppe Penone
ROLAND HALBE. Photo: TheTimes

The museum will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance from all over the world. The culture spot will also feature works specially commissioned by the renowned international contemporary artists.

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s story begins in the “Great Vestibule” where visitors are introduced to the important themes such as maternity and funerary rituals.
The dialogue between the works from different geographical territories highlights similarities between the canons despite each having its own mode of expression.
The galleries are both chronological and thematic, and subdivided into 12 chapters.
                                                       Bactrian Princess. Photo: The Art Newspaper.

The display includes the works from the earliest empires, including the first figurative representations, such as the Bactrian Princess created in Central Asia at the end of the 3rd Millennium BCE, funerary practices of ancient Egypt illustrated by a set sarcophagi of Princess Henuttawy, and the creation of new economies with Decadrachma coin of Syracuse signed by the artist Euainetos.

Attributed to Orazio Scoppa, Mother-of-pearl ewer, Gujarat, India, c. 1640. Photographer: Agence Photo F, courtesy of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo: Bloomberg.com

The temporary exhibitions, with loans from the Louvre and elsewhere, will be changed four times a year. The inaugural show, which includes masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Giovanni Bellini and Titian, focuses on the collection of the Louvre.
In a section about Modernity visitors could see paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte. There is also Edouard Manet’s The Gypsy, Paul Gauguin’s Breton Boys Wrestling, Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black.
1.1. Cy Twombly, Untitled I – IX, 2008. Acrylic on canvas.
1.2. Cy Twombly, Untitled I – IX, 2008. Acrylic on canvas. 9 panels. Louvre Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first site-specific works installed in the outdoor areas by contemporary artists will also interact with the spirit of the museum and its architecture.
The museum collection of contemporary art includes nine paintings by Cy Twombly, the monumental sculpture "The Fountain of Light" by the famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, as well as the installations of Jenny Holzer and Giuseppe Penone, built into the architecture of the Louvre of Abu Dhabi.

Left: Ai Weiwei's 23-foot-high "Fountain of Light" (2007). Louvre Abu Dhabi.

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Title illustration: Osman Hamdi Bey. A Young Emir Studying, Oil on canvas, Istanbul, 1878, 45.5 cm x 90 cm, Louvre Abu Dhabi

Based on materials artdaily.com, The Times, The Bloomberg