Carol Vogel takes a look in the New York Times at the recently unveiled acquisitions of the soon-to-be-built Louvre Abu Dhabi:
With an acquisitions budget of more than $56 million a year, a team of curators from the French museums have worked full time deciding how to shape the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection.
“There are specialists in every field who are aware of the market,” said Laurence des Cars, the curatorial director of the Agence France-Muséums, a French public organization set up to oversee the project.
The curators are not out to create a mini-Louvre but rather a new museum melding two cultures and two traditions.
“We want this to be a collection of masterpieces that make sense together, that have soul and that will form a dialogue with different civilizations,” Ms. des Cars said. Once the museum opens, the curators will also organize four special exhibitions a year for the next 15 years that will include loans from French museums and institutions all over the world.
Among the acquisitions that are part of “Talking Art: Louvre Abu Dhabi,” on view in the capital through July 2, are a standing bodhisattva from the second to third century A.D.; a Chinese white marble head of Buddha from the Northern Qi Dynasty, A.D. 550-577; and a 16th-century polychrome painted copper ewer from Venice. There are also works on Christian religious themes, including a Bellini “Madonna and Child” from the 1480s and a 16th-century sculpture of Jesus from Bavaria or Austria.
Areas like African art have yet to be represented, Ms. des Cars said, although they will be included later. In the meantime the curators have borrowed objects like a 19th-century wood Tsonga headrest from Zambia and a wooden stool from Benin, both on loan from the Musée du Quai Branly.
Paintings that have been bought for the Louvre Abu Dhabi include a canvas by Jean-François de Troy, “Esther Fainting Before Ahaseurus,” from 1730, and the two Manets — “The Bohemian” and “Still Life With Bag and Garlic” — which were originally part of a larger canvas.
“In 1867, after a critical flop when it was shown in Paris, Manet cut up the painting,” Ms. des Cars said, and it became three paintings, one of which, “Boy With Pitcher,” is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The other two canvases disappeared and were found only recently.
“We had an opportunity to buy them from the Wildenstein gallery,” she said. They are being shown along with an etching by the artist, “Les Gitanos,” also from 1862, which shows the paintings’ original composition and is on loan from the Bibilothèque Nationale de France.
Abu Dhabi Gets a Sampler of World Art (New York Times)