Louvre Abu Dhabi Announces Contemporary Commissions

Louvre Abu Dhabi © TDIC, Architect Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Louvre Abu Dhabi © TDIC, Architect Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Abu Dhabi, 13 November 2016 – Louvre Abu Dhabi has commissioned two internationally acclaimed artists to create site-specific artworks that will be displayed in the museum when opening in 2017. Jean Nouvel’s ‘museum city’ with its streets, plazas and waterways will feature artworks exhibited both inside the galleries as well as outside. Giuseppe Penone and Jenny Holzer have worked closely with the Louvre Abu Dhabi team to develop sculptures and installations reflecting the universal stories of the museum and in harmony with the iconic building. These are the first of a number of commissions for Louvre Abu Dhabi which will through a diversity of artists, reflect the universal nature of the museum.

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), said: “In line with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ambition to reflect the universal nature of artmaking, we have commissioned contemporary works by the internationally renowned artists, Giuseppe Penone and Jenny Holzer. The artists’ works are inspired by the museum’s iconic architecture and diverse stories and play an important role in connecting the cultures and civilizations of our past with the relevant ongoing conversations and artistic practices of today.”

Italian artist Giuseppe Penone (Garessio, 1947), one of the youngest members of the Arte Povera movement, has created Germination, a four-part installation that reveals the artist’s fascination with the use of organic materials, such as trees, to highlight the connection between man, nature, and art. The central element of the installation is Penone’s Leaves of Light, a vast bronze tree which interacts witا Jean Nouvel’s architectural design through mirrors placed on its branches reflecting the ‘Rain of Light.’ Soaring towards the dome covering the museum’s outdoor walkways, the tree becomes a symbol of life, as shared by all cultures.  

Giuseppe Penone commented: “The artworks that I have developed for Louvre Abu Dhabi aim to inscribe themselves in the place, underscoring aspects of its architectural form and content. The pieces that make up Germination echo the museum’s universal spirit.”

Through an exceptional collaboration with the workshops of Sèvres – Cité de la céramique, Penone has also created several works includingPropagation, a wall of porcelain tiles representing concentric circles drawn by hands. The lines of the drawing germinate from Sheikh Zayed’s fingerprint to show how a simple action can create an infinite space.

American artist Jenny Holzer (Ohio, 1950), known for her artwork that has been widely exhibited at international exhibitions, has created three engraved stone walls of texts from important historical sources from across the world. These walls will feature excerpts from Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah from the Atif Efendi Library collection in Istanbul, the Mesopotamian bilingual (Acadian / Sumerian) Creation Myth tablet from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, and the 1588 annotated edition of Michel de Montaigne’s Essais from the Bordeaux Municipal Library.

Jenny Holzer commented: “It’s delightful to work on this significant new museum. Louvre Abu Dhabi set an ambitious agenda for itself and raises lively questions about museums and civilizations. It’s a privilege and a challenge to realize an installation that joins Jean Nouvel’s architecture and that speaks with the fantastic works the museum will display.  I made my walls in close relation to Jean Nouvel’s building, which I saw as an ideal archaic village under a most beautiful futuristic sky dome.”

Works from the permanent collection will be displayed alongside these commissions in the outdoor areas of the museum. Recreating the atmosphere of an Islamic courtyard, an Ottoman octagonal fountain, and pavement (18th Century, Damascus, Syria) will be integrated into a contemporary scenography flooded with light.

Overlooking the Arabian Gulf, Louvre Abu Dhabi is designed as a ‘museum city’ with its contrasting series of white buildings inspired by the medina (city) and low-lying Arab settlements.  Visitors can wander through the indoor galleries, to the open-air areas of the museum, which are cooled by traditional Arabic architectural techniques. The museum will also offer temporary exhibitions, a children’s museum, restaurants, a shop, promenades, and gardens.


Editorial Staff

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