abu dhabi to present mid east’s first major show of picasso masterpieces

Published May 10th, 2008 - 04:41 GMT

An exceptional selection of the works of Pablo Picasso, spanning all periods and styles in the career of the 20th century’s signature artist, will be presented in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, this summer in the first major Picasso exhibition ever mounted in the Middle East.

Running from May 27 - September 4, the retrospective Picasso Abu Dhabi, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris will be shown in Gallery One of Emirates Palace under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The exhibition is drawn exclusively from the singularly important holdings of the Musée National Picasso, Paris, which came directly from the artist’s studios. A total of 183 works will be shown— including  paintings, sculptures and  works on paper—beginning with Picasso’s Blue Period Self-Portrait of 1901 and concluding with Portrait of the Young Painter (1972), made only months before his death.


Picasso Abu Dhabi, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris is an international touring exhibition which will visit nine nations, with Abu Dhabi being the second venue after the Madrid debut. The exhibition is being presented in Abu Dhabi by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the emirate’s leading cultural and tourism asset developer, and Mubadala, a wholly-owned investment and business development company of the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi .

An exhibition feature exclusive to Abu Dhabi will be the inclusion of 40 drawings, prints and illuminated manuscripts that reveal, for the first time, Picasso’s development of a calligraphic poetry on the border between text and image. These 40 works are reminiscent of the Arab cultural influences that Picasso absorbed during his youth in Málaga.

“We are grateful to the Musee National Picasso Paris for its willingness to ensure that the Abu Dhabi exhibition includes works which will be exclusive to the UAE capital – a distinction which will be savored, I am sure, by all who visit,” said His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC, Abu Dhabi Tourism Autority (ADTA) and the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH). “We also appreciate the fact that Abu Dhabi will be the second destination on the exhibition’s international tour, coming only after the great Reina Sofía museum in Madrid, which, as the national museum of modern art in Picasso’s homeland, is a very appropriate launch venue.”

The staging of the exhibition forms another component of a wide-reaching arts education programme being undertaken by Abu Dhabi ahead of the opening in the Arabian Gulf emirate of the world’s single largest concentration of premier cultural institutions. Unprecedented in scale and scope, these facilities include the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi universal museum, a performing arts centre and a maritime museum. All have been designed by international architectural luminaries including Lord Norman Foster for the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, Frank Gehry for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, Jean Nouvel for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zaha Hadid for the performing arts centre and Tadao Ando for the maritime museum.

These  institutions will be built in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island – a 27 square kilometre island offshore Abu Dhabi city which is being transformed by TDIC into a world class cultural, leisure and residential destination – and will be phased in from 2012-13.

“Our exhibition programme is preparing an audience in advance of the opening of the Cultural District and is part of an educational initiative aimed at nurturing a local and regional awareness of arts appreciation,” said Sheikh Sultan. “It also lives up to our desire to deliver unique and compelling cultural experiences for visitors and residents, to establish a desired tone of sophistication and quality that defines our long-term ambition of becoming a global cultural hub which will bridge all nationalities and creeds.”

Picasso Abu Dhabi, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris has been curated by Anne Baldassari, Director of the Musée National Picasso, and features solid educational elements. The exhibition layout includes an audio visual room which utilizes film, photographic and audio collateral from the museum’s incomparable Picasso Archives and there will also be a bespoke audio guide aimed at giving visitors a rich and illuminating context for the artworks on view. The exhibition catalogue is the first Arabic publication to present the collection of the Musée National Picasso, Paris. Rounding out the exhibition will be a Picasso discussion panel and a full programme of educational activities, including a journal published especially for children.

“This historic exhibition represents the beginning of a partnership between the Musée National Picasso and Abu Dhabi,” stated Baldassari. “The exceptional understanding enjoyed by our two teams while organizing this large and complex exhibition allows us to foresee a successful future, as we develop our institutional, artistic and scholarly relationships over the next decade.”

Picasso Abu Dhabi, Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris represents another cultural “first” for Abu Dhabi, which this year has supported and hosted the staging of the Arabian Gulf’s first Arabic performance of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni and presented the Middle East’s first exhibition of The Arts of Islam: Treasures of the Nasser D. Khalili Collection,’  which featured 500 pieces, some on show for the first time anywhere. More than 61,000 visitors visited The Arts of Islam during its three-month run at Gallery One.

“The success of our cultural programme is made possible by  our strategy of working with partners that have ‘best-of-breed’ expertise,” said Sheikh Sultan. “This partnership approach demonstrates, quite clearly, our belief in world-class collaboration – a strategy which now embraces the Musée National Picasso, Paris.

“I anticipate this unique exhibition will be the source of much comment and debate within UAE shores and I look forward to this dialogue as a means of advancing our regional artistic environment.”

 


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