Abu Dhabi: Some of the first photographs ever taken in the world will be on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, from April 25 to July 13, as part of the museum’s second temporary exhibition of the year, museum officials announced on Tuesday.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Photographs 1842-1896: An Early Album of the World’, will include 250 historic images, showing the dissemination of the medium across the world. Visitors will therefore get to see the first photographs taken of Makkah and the Kaaba in 1881 by Egyptian General, Mohammad Sadiq Bey, renowned images of the United States by Timothy O’Sullivan, as well as never-before-seen pictures by previously-unknown practitioners of the medium.
“Photographs are some of the most relevant mediums to contemporary life, yet there was a time not too long ago when they did not exist. This exhibition therefore traces the dissemination of the practice across the globe, with images taken in 44 different countries,” said Manuel Rabate, director at the museum.
“Louvre Abu Dhabi aims to tell the story of humanity, and photography is one of the most important tools that has contributed to the documentation of the history of the world and its diverse cultures. This exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to travel to new places and explore different regions through the eyes of 19th century travellers,” said Mohammad Al Mubarak, chairman of culture sector regulator, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.
Photography was invented in France in 1840, but what sets this exhibition apart from other displays of the medium is the fact that it focuses on photography across the world, instead of concentrating on images taken by Westerners, Christine Bathe, exhibition curator, told Gulf News.
Bathe is also head of the photographic collections heritage unit at the Paris-based Musee du quai Branly — Jacques Chirac, which highlights indigenous art and culture.
“To meet the challenge, we had to shift focus and lead extensive research to look towards the new horizons of photography outside Europe and the United States. This is why we have been able to uncover beautiful images taken by relatively unknown people, like Kassian Cephas from Indonesia and Jacques-Philippe Potteau in France,” he said.
The exhibition will run until July 13. Alongside it, the museum will organise related film screenings, workshops, a cine-concert and a conference.
Highlights of the exhibition
■ The first photographs of Makkah and the Kaaba taken by Egyptian military engineer Mohammad Sadiq Bey in 1881
■ The first photographs of China by Chinese photographer Lai Fong, who established the first studio in the region
■ Photographs taken in 1860 of the first pre-Hispanic sites in Mexico by French archaeologist, Desire Charnay
■ Series of portraits of Filipinos in 1865 by Pedro Picon, whose work has never been highlighted before
■ Series of profiles by Frenchman Lacques Philippe Potteau, who was not previously known to be a photographer
■ Early daguerreotypes from France, and how the form was transformed in Japan a decade later