Louvre Abu Dhabi presents the first comprehensive exhibition on the history of luxury in the Middle East.
How luxury has been defined by diverse cultures from Antiquity to the present day? The first comprehensive exhibition on the history of luxury in the Middle East is showcasing approximately 350 objects from 30 countries and spanning several millennia.
Louvre Abu Dhabi presents 10,000 Years of Luxury, a ground-breaking exhibition that explores the history of luxury for the first time in the Middle East.
The exhibition considers luxury as a vehicle for understanding the social, economic and political circumstances of a specific time period, as well as how notions of value have evolved throughout history.
Curated by Olivier Gabet, Director of Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the exhibition draws primarily from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and other French, international and local institutions. It also displays works from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection and offers a rare chance to revel in and evaluate our ever-changing fascination with luxury.
“10,000 Years of Luxury” features approximately 350 objects including fashion, jewellery, visual art, furniture and design, and explores how luxury has been defined by diverse cultures from Antiquity to the present day.
The exhibition will present concepts of luxury from ancient civilisations and their worship of the gods to the exquisite finery of the 18th century, to the Industrial Revolution and its impact on the mass consumption of luxury goods. Each piece offers a different viewpoint on what defines luxury – be it time, craftsmanship or rarity. Works range from a Mamluk carpet from Egypt dating back to the 15th century to an hourglass by Australian designer Marc Newson. The luxury of fashion is highlighted with both vintage and contemporary creations by iconic fashion designers: Balenciaga, CHANEL, Dior, Louis
Vuitton, Karl Lagerfeld, Azzedine Alaïa, Maison Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès and more.
“In this exhibition, we are exploring humanity’s connection to luxury across time and cultures, taking a long lens on the subject from ancient treasures to present day haute couture,” explained Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
“This approach is consistent with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s universal narrative, which is part of our DNA. We are grateful to our main partner Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the many institutions, including haute couture icons, who have contributed exceptional pieces to this wonderful story of luxury,” added Rabaté.
10,000 Years of Luxury will unfold across 12 rooms, beginning in antiquity and ending in the present day. Objects from the ancient empires of the Middle East and the Mediterranean chart early forms and definitions of luxury, which derived value from the cost and rarity of materials and signified specific social beliefs and customs. In the Middle Ages, luxury spread around the globe due to expanding trade routes and the development of new techniques.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw Paris take centre stage in the luxury market with the rise of decorative art dealers, known as marchand-mercier. Visitors will experience a recreation of an 18th century Parisian boutique, displaying the ingenious work of the marchand-mercier and the first forms of commercialised luxury.
The paradox of luxury became particularly evident from the end of the 19th century with lavish objects from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, while in the 20th century luxury returns to a closer relationship with natural and simple materials and resources. The exhibition closes with the question: what is luxury in 2019? Moving away from the material and into the philosophical, the final section proposes that contemporary luxury is defined by time, space and freedom.
In tandem with “10,000 Years of Luxury”, Louvre Abu Dhabi will present the olfactory art installation USO – The Perfumed Cloud (USO = Unidentified Scented Object). Created by Maison Cartier’s in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent with Transsolar KlimaEngineering, and curated by Juliette Singer, Chief Curator for modern and contemporary art at Louvre Abu Dhabi, the installation invites visitors to climb a spiral staircase to immerse themselves in a scented cloud.
“10,000 Years of Luxury” runs until 18 February 2020. Other exhibitions on view as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 2019/2020 season include Rendezvous in Paris: Picasso, Chagall, Modigliani & Co. (1900-1939) (18 September – 7 December 2019), Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry between East and West (February 19, 2020 – May 30, 2020) and Charlie Chaplin: When Art Met Cinema (April 15, 2020 – July 11, 2020).
“10,000 Years of Luxury” is sponsored by Tryano, the only luxury department store in Abu Dhabi.