Louvre’s Islamic art building is ready to fly

The Los Angeles Times – September 1, 2012

 

The Louvre’s new wing for the department of Islamic art undulates like molten gold. For the museum’s enlarged, 18,000-piece treasure trove of Islamic art, opening Sept. 22, architects Mario Bellini from Italy and Rudy Ricciotti from France used the latest in computer technology to create what is the most significant, innovative architectural expansion project to the museum since I.M. Pei shook up the institution with his glass pyramid in 1989. The building is a much more intimate addition, tucked into the folds of the sprawling monument (822 years old in some parts) and is not clearly visible from the street.

With its new structure and its expanded and restored collection, from which more than 2,500 works will be displayed, the museum says it hopes to “seduce” visitors into learning more about Islamic arts. In the process, the institution has stated a rather more ambitious goal for the $98.5-million-euro project ($123.8 million): to correct common “misconceptions” associated with the Islamic world and “bridge” cultural gaps that can lead to conflict.

The new wing will unveil never-before-shown precious works from the 7th to the 19th centuries, stretching from Spain to India, including pieces drawn from the Louvre’s collection of some 15,000 pieces, plus 3,400 other works on permanent loan from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Funders include Saudi Prince Waleed bin Talal’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation; King Mohammed VI of Morocco; Sheikh Sabah al Ahmed al Jabbar al Sabah, the emir of Kuwait; Kaboos ibn Said, sultan of Oman; and the republic of Azerbaijan.

Public Advertisements “Censored” in Utrecht

14 April 2012

A poster displayed in a primarily Muslim neighbourhood of Utrecht which depicts a woman in a short, strapless dress has been covered over. A black plastic bag has been taped atop the posters, which are promotional material for the city’s museum weekend. A message on the bag reads, “La ilahe il Allah- No Sexually Tinted Advertising In Our Suburbs. Stand Up And Fight Against This Case To Protect Our Children!” A second poster depicting a woman in a bikini was also covered briefly.

While the event prompted reactions online and PVV leader Wilders raised the event in parliament, reaction in the neighbourhood have been mixed. Radio Netherlands Worldwide quotes local Muslim residents with a range of reactions, including Muslim women whose attention had not been attracted by the posters or their covers, and others who see no use in the move to cover the image.

Controversy over female bodies in public campaigns has circulated in the Netherlands before, as when feminist and also religious organizations objected to lingerie and other advertising posters in 2010.

Art Review: Getting to the Bottom of ‘Islamic Art’

NEW YORK — The West has a problem when dealing with the cultures of the lands that adhered to Islam over time. It begins with apprehending their differences, far greater than those that separate European nations.

On the museum scene, the meaningless label “Islamic art” is stuck to works visually and conceptually unrelated.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which ranks among the world’s four or five greatest institutions of its kind, the recently opened “Islamic department” unwittingly illustrates the confusion.

The Louvre Prepares to Open Islamic wing

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

With a roof designed to look like a floating sheet of silk, a reference to the Islamic headscarf, a new wing of the Louvre housing Islamic art is nearing completion. The project to house the Paris museum’s well-regarded collection of Islamic objects was launched by former president Jacques Chirac in 2002.

Six years later his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, laid the first stone. After four years of construction, the wing is set to open in the summer.

The building’s architect Mario Bellini, who has designed the structure with Rudy Ricciotti, said the structure should seem as if it is “floating in mid-air.” The 3,500 square metre space is the museum’s biggest project since the construction of the glass pyramid that sits in the Louvre’s main courtyard twenty years ago. The €98 million ($126 million) new wing will sit in one of the Louvre’s hidden courtyards in the Denon wing of the gallery and can house around 18,000 works.

History’s Hands: Transporting visitors from Fifth Avenue to Fez

After 30 years, the Met museum has embarked on the most ambitious rethinking and rebuilding of its Islamic art galleries in its history, a $50 million endeavor. At the heart of those galleries, which will open in the fall after being closed six years, it dreamed of showcasing the defining feature of Moroccan and southern Spanish Islamic architecture: a medieval Maghrebi-Andalusian-style courtyard, which would function in much the same way such courtyards still do in the traditional houses and mosques of Marrakesh or Casablanca, as their physical and spiritual center.

With world attention focused on the Middle East, the courtyard has taken on an unforeseen importance for the museum; for the Kingdom of Morocco itself, which has followed the project closely; and for a constituency of Muslim scholars and supporters of the Met. They hope it will function not only as a placid chronological way station for people moving through more than a millennium of Islamic history, but also as a symbol, amid potent anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States and Europe, that aesthetic and intellectual commerce remains alive between Islam and the West.

British Museum announces major Christianity and Islam exhibitions

Two major exhibitions about Christianity and Islam form the backbone of the British Museum’s plans for late 2011 and early 2012, it was announced today.

The museum will also borrow more than 200 objects from the recently rebuilt National Museum in the Afghan capital, Kabul, for a one-off show exploring the city’s historical background as a cultural crossroad.

The Christianity exhibition will be called Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe and will examine the central importance and veneration of relics. It will run in late 2011 and be followed in 2012 by The Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, telling the worldwide story of the journey all Muslims are meant to make at some point in their lives to Mecca.

Aga Khan Lays Foundation for Major Ismaili Centre in Toronto

The Aga Khan, role model for Canada’s 100,000 Ismailis, is in Toronto to lay the foundation for an Islamic museum and cultural centre. The construction on Canadian soil of the largest Islamic museum in the English-speaking world marks a significant milestone for a community that arrived in Canada 38 years ago. In the last four decades, Ismailis have emerged as a remarkable success story. Their integration is seen as one of the reasons the Aga Khan promotes Canadian-style pluralism as a model for the world. In a short time, Ismailis have become leading figures in politics, business and the professions, with prominent people including Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed and Senator Mobina Jaffer.

The museum is scheduled to open in 2013 near Don Mills Rd. and Eglinton Ave.

Munich will get a new mosque center

Recently, the Turkish community of one Munich district had to bury their plans for a new mosque. The conservative party CSU had blocked the construction for reasons of “wrong place, wrong architecture” and the lack of involvement of local neighbors. Furthermore, the initiative was proposed by an organization which has close ties to the Turkish government.

But now it is the turn of a different initiative. The imam of Penzberg, a small town near Munich, Benjamin Idriz, proposed his plans of a “Centre for Islam in Europe – Munich.” Born in Macedonia, Idriz has long worked for this project which will involve a mosque and community services such as a kindergarten, a space for senior citizens, a library and an Islamic museum. The center strives to convey a liberal, European Islam.

For the first time, there is now a political consensus in the city council. All parties, including the CSU, have expressed their support for the new mosque project. The administration will therefore search for suitable premises at a central location.

Smithsonian Museum showcases Iranian Islamic art

About 5000 pieces comprise the Smithsonian Museum’s Islamic Art exhibit, representing the traditions of Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and more. The exhibition, running from Oct. 24-Jan 24, features 65 works of art from Istanbul, Paris, Geneva, and Berlin.

Each year, the museum honors one country and features a special exhibit in celebration of its art and culture. This year, the country is Iran.

“What we are trying to do is focus the attention on the arts and cultures of Iran,” says Massumeh Farhad, chief of Islamic art at the Freer and Sackler galleries.

The Smithsonian official denied any association between the focus on the Iranian culture and the ongoing political showdown between the two countries.

Farhad believes that showcasing a unique Islamic culture like Iran’s to Americans should always be apart from any political agendas.

“What we can do is to highlight the aspects of culture, regardless of what happens in politics.”

Barcelona exhibits Islamic art

An exhibit showcasing Islamic art, organized in collaboration with The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, has opened in Barcelona. The CaixaForum exhibition, titled “The Worlds of Islam” runs through January 2010 and showcases, for the first time in Barcelona, 190 pieces bound by “the common denominator of the Arabic language and Muslim religion”, QNA reports.

The exhibit travels to Barcelona from Madrid, where the pieces were seen by 160,000 people. It contains 190 objects spanning 1,400 years of history, “artistic markers of a world that stretches from ancient Al-Andalus to India”.