Louvre, Abu Dhabi: Art Beyond

 “Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” – Chuck Klosterman

There is much joy in finding yourself lost among works of expression. I have always loved art and consider myself an artist at heart, and my greatest dream is to visit Europe to see the great works of the masters for myself.

Paris is still a too far destination to consider, and I can say that I am lucky enough that the United Arab Emirates aim to bring in everything grand from all over the world to this side of the Gulf. I was excited that they have created their own Louvre here in Abu Dhabi.

The structure is an architectural piece itself, designed by Pritzer Price-winning architect Jean Nouvel, as inspired by the concept of a medina, the quarter of the Arab cities during the ancient times. The silvery dome is comprised of 7,850 stars of complex geometric pattern, and is a wonder to behold as the light hits it in a million ways.

I visited the museum during the first week of October, and the weather was just enough not to sweat all over. This is the first thing you’d have to consider when you live in the UAE. The museum is all fully air-conditioned, but you will best enjoy the dome around sunset when the beautiful golden rays hit the roof and the waters that surround the building, as it is placed by the sea.

There was not that much of a crowd yet, and it does add some allure to the museum. I do feel like there was so much space that needed to be filled with ancient wonders, and some of the displays were even closed, much to my disappointment. I was rather looking forward to seeing the painting of Vincent Van Gogh, but sadly that exhibition was closed and the nice attendant who comforted me said that they were bringing in new pieces by the end of the year. I made sad faces and begged them to show me the best ones they have so far.

The museum is divided into different sections per category. There was a mummy display for Egyptian artifacts, statues from ancient Greece and Rome, and pots and ceramics from Mid-Asia.  The main highlight, though, was the paintings.

Ancient Greece art on marble
Mother Scolding her Daughter (pun intended)
The Sarcophagus of Egyptian Princess Hanuttawy

I am, though, sorry to say that they do not have Salvator Mundi on display. The most expensive auctioned painting in the world (a whopping $450 million) was purchased at Christie’s for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The rumored buyer was Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, an ally of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, gifted to the royal family of Abu Dhabi for the Louvre. It was in official talk to be displayed, but they have postponed it and no further announcement has been made.

It is never the Louvre without a work from Da Vinci, though, and like its counterpart in Paris, the star is a painting of a woman, entitled “La Belle Ferroniere,” with its alluring smile like Mona Lisa. I often wonder if Da Vinci has modeled them after one woman. I do hope they bring more of his art in.

“La Belle Ferroniere,” Leonardo da Vinci

There were also some prominent works on display:

“Madonna and Child,” Giovanni Bellini
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“Portrait of William Welby and His Wife Penelope playing Chess,” Francis Cotes
“Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” Jacques-Louis David
“Number 26 A, Black and White,” Jackson Pollock
“Portrait of a Woman,” Pablo Ruiz Picasso

It is quite an amazing experience to see things from the past, like somehow the pieces are a reminder of the beauty they once held, and of how they just increase their value over time. Louvre Abu Dhabi also has exciting events they host to encounter people to engage in the museum’s activities, like drawing week and multicultural performances.

I believe that over time, it will develop a culture of its own with the art in it finally at home. I am willing to visit it again next time and hope that they open the other galleries by then.

Tickets are priced at 60 AED per head for adults, while visitors between the ages of 13 and 22 can enter for 30 AED. It is located on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, open from 10am to 8pm from Saturdays to Wednesdays, and from 10am to 10pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and closed on Mondays. You may visit their website at https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae/ for more details.

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Jeshea is a writer who writes for lost souls waiting to be found, a demigod who has managed fairly on her own now that she is out of camp. She is now in the desert with her panda Cheng Shi who keeps the monsters at bay.

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