The louvre

Why a “paper” tour of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is fascinating

“It is fitting that paper is the subject of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s second exhibition in 2022, exploring a unique medium and the specific techniques that encompass it. We are therefore interested for the first time in the universality of a material. The story of paper, an invention that transcended geography in its journey from East to West while transforming cultures and societies in the process, exemplifies the stories of cultural interaction and intellectual exchange that the museum embraces. is committed to review,” said Manuel Rabate, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The exhibition is divided into 12 zones, each highlighting a specific quality of paper – from its affordability to its flexibility and ubiquity. A serpentine paper banner marks all major milestones in the development of the medium, highlighting the introduction of colored paper and its journey to Arabia. The exhibition thus allows visitors to understand the tools and mechanisms used to create paper, while inviting the public to explore different paper materials through mediation devices.

“If there is one material that is for the common good of humanity, it is paper. Paper was invented in China around 200 BC. AD and quickly made its way to Korea and Japan, then eventually along the Silk Road. From there, the Islamic world absorbed this material and spread its use across the Middle East and along the coasts of the Mediterranean. Years later, in the 11th century, the first paper mills were documented in Al Andalus. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the advancement of the Japanese art of mass paper woodcut took place in Italy and France, and the demand for paper grew rapidly around the world. “Stories of Paper” seeks to explain why paper, a common but precious commodity, was quickly embraced and sought after by cultures in all parts of the world,” said Xavier Salmon, General Curator and Head of the Drawings and Prints Department. at the Louvre Museum.

Highlights of the exhibition include a selection of artworks from the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection, including Pablo Picasso’s ‘Portrait of a Woman’, 1928, two Japanese woodblock prints by artist Katsushika Hokusai and a 13th-century double-page spread from “De Materia Medica”. International lenders have also lent exceptional pieces, including a 1795 panorama on 17 panels of “Figures walking in a park” by Carmontelle, a 19th century manuscript folded like a screen from Burma and a Koran written in calligraphy. of nail.

There are also a number of notable works of art by Emirati and Middle Eastern artists. For example, the dictionary of Hassan Sharif built with the pages of an English-Arabic dictionary, is imposing and essential, just like that of Dana Awartani ‘He Is Who Created The Heavens and Earth in Six Days’.

Visitors will also be able to see, in the Lower Plaza of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto’s “Labirinto e Grande Pozzo” – an interactive contemporary installation in the form of a maze that explores movement as a key feature of paper .

“Working on this exhibition has changed my understanding of paper as a medium and made me appreciate it much more. to become more sustainable in the way we use the material,” Amna Al Zaabi, senior curatorial assistant at Louvre Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.

“Paper Stories” was organized by Xavier Salmon, General Curator and Director, and Victor Hundsbuckler, Curator, in the Department of Drawings and Prints of the Louvre Museum, with the support of Dr Souraya Noujaim, Director of Scientific, Curatorial and collections at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.