Art, Night Au Musée

Night Au Musée: Faces, Flora, and Fauna

It had been a while since we had made it to a nocturne at the Louvre and since our last planned visit ended in an evening home with a sick husband, I think we were even more determined to break out and get there this past Friday after work! We decided to visit the new Arts d’Islam wing again since it is so large we didn’t even see half of the collection on the first visit. Now, a second visit down, we still have a lot more left to see.

These collections, even before the new wing was opened, have always been some of my favorites at the museum. The colors and prolific patternwork (which is often calligraphy transformed into decoration, giving it several layers of purpose) are endlessly stunning. I am fascinated by the lines of these works and love drawing inspiration from them. Their sense of scale and balance is so perfectly tuned.

Half way through this second visit, I realized that the overwhelming majority of the pieces I was drawn to that evening were depicting faces, flora, and fauna, the latter two being particularly common themes in Islam art. So, here is a second visit to the new wing for you, featuring the many faces, plants, and animals carved, painted, and smithed over centuries and across continents.

You can see pictures from our first visit to the Arts d’Islam wing here.

xo,

A.

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Art, Night Au Musée, Paris

Night at the Louvre – Les Arts de L’Islam

 

Ever since the much anticipated new wing of the Louvre opened, I’ve been excited to see the new space and discover the pieces of the museum’s collection that hadn’t been displayed before. The Islamic and Middle Eastern collections are some of the most inspiring to me for their rich decoration, vibrant colors, and fluid lines. Last Friday, after a fairly hectic week, we meet at the Louvre for a nocturne visit and headed straight for this new wing. Built into a previously unused inner court, the architecture is very modern, in the tradition of the  I.M. Pei glass pyramids, but marries will with the existing structure, not competing with it. So entering the new wing is like stepping through the wardrobe into a completely different world. With 2 1/2 levels of space, there was much too much to see in one evening and it was fairly busy, with everyone interested in the new space.

The pieces on display vary widely, the theme of the collection itself covering a vast geographical and cultural area, and different areas are highlighted by themes such as writing (calligraphy being such an important decorative element in Islamic art), game objects, or tile work. These displays are complemented by touch screens that play fascinating videos in several languages, several 3D models that were created from key pieces for visitors to be able to touch the work with their own hands, and maps that glow from behind, the light moving to show the spread of an empire or culture. It was all very interesting and there is still so much for us to see but we did have just a few critiques: for one, the light is unusually low, even for light sensitive pieces, and the floor, walls, and displays are charcoal making it difficult to read even for R. and I who don’t have trouble reading. Also, almost all texts were presented in three languages but not Arabic. For a country with such a large Arabic population and tourist stream, I feel that it’s a miss not to offer the exhibit information in the major language of the culture whose work is being displayed.

Despite those things, the new wing is a space you should visit if you can. The work is beautiful (the above reproduction mosaic looks so contemporary to me yet it dates to between 705 and 715 A.D.!) and I know we’re both looking forward to going back to see even more. Here is a taste of what you’ll see there:

How was your weekend?

xo,

A.

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Art, Night Au Musée, Paris

Night at the Louvre – Eugène Isabey

Last Friday we made it to the Louvre for the first nocturne in a long time and we took the time to visit a temporary exhibit of work by Eugène Isabey from the Louvre’s collections. This selection of work focused on his sketches of the Normandy and Brittany coasts and rural villages. Most of the work presented was graphite with watercolor and gouache and what mesmerized me were his brush strokes. I’ve always loved pieces that were not so perfected as to hide the hand of the artist and in this exhibit Isabey’s voice rings clear in his frank and sure hand through his paint brush. But I’ll let the works speak for themselves, here is a selection of details (not entire sketches) that I particularly loved for their marks.

(above: oil on canvas)

The light was not helping for the viewing (or photographing) of this last one but I had to include this detail despite the ghosting of the image. Here he has laid down charcoal over graphite and then ‘etched’ the forms from the black. This detail shows two baskets (center, 2/3’s down) laying on the shore at the base of a ship(top left) among the rocks (bottom right). I have to try this technique!

The show runs through the 17th of September and I definitely need to get back at least one more time. If you’re in Paris, try to find the time to go see it!

xo,

A.

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