Abu Dhabi: A comprehensive showcase of the French Impressionist movement has opened at the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s latest international exhibition.
‘Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity’ will run until February 5, 2023, including through the museum’s fifth anniversary on November 11. Addressing media at a press preview, Manual Rabate, museum director, said the exhibition is like the present of a “box of chocolates” on this milestone anniversary of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Displaying more than 150 artworks, the exhibition highlights the reactions of a revered group of French artists to social and economic upheavals in the mid-1850s to the end of the 19th century. Visitors can therefore get close-up views of a number of famous works by Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Auguste Renoir, and Gustave Caillebotte.
‘The Cup of Chocolate’ by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1877 – 1878), a new acquisition by Louvre Abu Dhabi, will be unveiled for the first time in this exhibition, in dialogue with a similarly-themed work by Paul Cezanne, Woman with a Coffee Pot (1890-1895).
“Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity is a momentous and thought-provoking exhibition of unprecedented scale in the Gulf region, demonstrating remarkable tenacity and ambition as we inch closer to our fifth anniversary. This exhibition exemplifies the museum’s ongoing desire to continually re-think art history, open minds to new perspectives and promote cultural connection and dialogue. A special thanks goes to Musée d’Orsay, France Muséums and our esteemed French partners, who have helped in bringing this exhibition to fruition,” Rabate said.
Mirroring UAE energy
Sylvie Patry, chief curator and deputy director for collections and curatorial affairs at Musée d’Orsay, told Gulf News that the exhibition portrays a time of artistic energy and social development in France, much like what the UAE is experiencing at the moment.
“The Impressionists were an artistic movement at a time when cities were developing, and there was a growth in new media. The speed of life was increasing, and more people were becoming tourists to explore the world. How these Impressionists responded to these changes forms the crux of this exhibition, and it will resonate with people in the UAE and the region who are experiencing similar changes today,” she explained.
“The Impressionists also saw beauty everywhere, including in everyday objects and scenarios. We hope visitors to the exhibition will identify this beauty, and be inspired by its positivity,” Patry added.
Rarely lent works
Many of the works featured in the exhibition have rarely been lent out to other institutions by the Musee d’Orsay, said co-curator Christophe Leribault, president of the public establishment of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie - Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
Highlights include a selection of artworks from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection, including two paintings by Edouard Manet, The Bohemian (1861-1862) and Still Life with Bag and Garlic (1861-1862), Alfred Sisley’s The Road to Verrières (1872), and Gustave Caillebotte’s The Bezique Game (1881). Highlights from Musée d’Orsay collection include The Balcony by Edouard Manet (1898-1869), The Magpie by Claude Monet (1868-1869), The Floor Scrapers (1875) by Gustave Caillebotte, The Racecourse: Amateur Jockeys Near a Car by Edgar Degas (1876-1887), and Woman with a Coffee Pot by Paul Cézanne (1890-1895).
In all, there are more than 100 paintings, 40 drawings and prints, 20 photographs, and five dresses from the era, as well as a contemporary video installation by the French renowned artist Ange Leccia. The works are thematically arranged, allowing visitors to see the development of each artist’s style and subject matter through the period.
A rich cultural programme will also be available to the public, including a curatorial talk on Impressionism, film screenings under the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi dome, and a contemporary dance performance and masterclass by Sima Dance, inspired by the exhibition. Visitors can also enjoy the second edition of “Living Art”, bringing ballerinas from Edgar Degas’ painting Ballet Rehearsal on Stage to life along with a piano recital inspired by the Impressionist movement.
A range of educational activities will be available for adults, schools, families and youth, including an Express Tour of the exhibition; an oil painting masterclass led by Emirati artist Saggaf Alhashmi, Make and Play activities where children can learn different kinds of painting techniques inspired by nature and the outdoors, and a Young Visitor’s Guide, offering young ones the opportunity to learn about the pioneering Impressionist artists.