Since the early 20th century, Islamic art and architecture have deeply influenced Cartier’s iconic creations and collections.
A new exhibition ‘Cartier, Islamic inspiration and modern design’ organized by the Louvre Abu Dhabi sheds light on the history of the significant cross-cultural impact on the creative language of the French luxury brand.
“This exhibition is the result of almost five years of research into archives, drawings and photographs to discover the links between Cartier’s creations and Islamic art, and identify sources of inspiration,” said exhibition curators Judith Henon-Raynaud and Evelyne Posseme. .
They noted that the exhibition offers a tour of the sources that inspired some of the most innovative pieces of French jewelry.
“The exhibition allows us to understand the importance that the discovery of Islamic art had for artists at the beginning of the 20th century, and how this aesthetic influence was at the origin of many masterpieces produced in Europe and a true fashion phenomenon. “
The immersive exhibition brings together more than 400 works from the Louvre Abu Dhabi, partner museums, the Cartier Collection and private collections, to explore more than a century of artistic influence.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, President of Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened the ground-breaking exhibition, which runs from November 16 to March 24 and is co-organized by Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Louvre Museum and the Museums of France. with the support of the House of Cartier.
It has been co-curated by Henon-Raynaud, chief curator and deputy director of the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre, and Posseme, former chief curator of ancient and modern jewelry at the Museum of Decorative Arts, assisted by Fakhera Alkindi, senior curatorial assistant at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The Indian connection
At the beginning of the 20th century, the organization of large exhibitions dedicated to Islamic art and the massive arrival of works, particularly Persian and Indian paintings and manuscripts, led to the development of an authentic Persian fashion in Paris.
Louis Cartier, grandson of the House’s founder, was deeply intrigued by these artistic traditions that he discovered in the Parisian art market. In search of new sources of inspiration, he enriched the Maison’s study library with the latest publications dedicated to Islamic arts and architecture. This library would be an inexhaustible source of patterns for the House’s designers, possibly the source.
In the 1910s, Louis Cartier began a personal collection of Islamic art, which he made available to the House’s designers. In 1911, his brother Jacques Cartier traveled to India to strengthen ties with the maharajas and to the Arabian Gulf region to investigate the pearl market. The discovery of patterns and forms in architecture, works of art and literature opened a new realm of modern artistic expression for the House, up to the artistic direction of Jeanne Toussaint and still today.
On display is an ivory carved wooden panel with scrolls, a glass container in the shape of a mosque lamp, a binding and a cover of the ‘Rubaiyat’ of Omar Khayyam, a fragment of a mosaic panel with geometric decoration, a box of pens said to have belonged to Mirza Muhammad Munshi. The Cartier Collection lends special works including a cigarette case, a toiletry bag with decoration inspired by Iznik ceramics, a Hindu necklace and a tiara.
Manuel Rabate, director of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “Through this exhibition, and thanks to the valuable loans from our partners: the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Louvre Museum and many other lenders, our visitors will not only be able to discover “new connections between cultures and gain a better understanding of modernity, but will also be inspired by the rich technicalities and unique materials of Islamic art, architecture and the Cartier jewelry on display.”
Additionally, a temporary exhibition features a digital space, where large digital animations show artistic interpretations of the physical assembly of Cartier’s key pieces and their source of inspiration. Two ‘infinity rooms’ will immerse visitors in animated patterns, offering a captivating 180-degree visual experience within this digital realm. On the museum façade, projections of artworks and photographs will take visitors through Jacques Cartier’s travels: from Marseille to Agra, from Bombay to Muscat and from Dubai to Muharraq.
In parallel with the exhibition, there is a diverse cultural and educational programme, including an in-depth talk with the exhibition curators, a documentary screening followed by a community discussion, guided tours, master classes, a family weekend and a activity brochure.
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