Opening of the Département des Arts de l’Islam at the Louvre

1. Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini
Département des Arts de l’Islam in the Visconti Courtyard
Photo : Didier Rykner

18/9/12 - Paris, Musée du Louvre - Islamic arts and contemporary architecture do not fall into The Art Tribune’s field of study. However, the opening of a new department at the Musée du Louvre and the construction within the establishment of a new exhibition space justifies our mentioning the event though we will not discuss the works themselves.

We might no doubt regret that the building, designed by Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini, now occupies a courtyard originally supposed to remain open and that it was not erected a bit further back from the façades although they were at least entirely preserved. Above all, we must admit that the architecture is for the most part quite attractive (ill. 1) and the view of the roof confirms this first impression (ill. 2).
In our opinion, the lower floor, (called "parterre") does not seem as beautiful (ill. 3) as the "rez-de-cour" [courtyard level]. True, the ensemble of works (and the quality of the display cases) imparts an impression of color which offers an effective contrast with the dark colors on the walls, ceiling and floor. But too much gray can become tiresome after a while...

2. Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini
Département des Arts de l’Islam in the Visconti Courtyard
"Rez-de-cour" [courtyard level]
Photo : Didier Rykner

3. Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini
Département des Arts de l’Islam in the Visconti Courtyard
"Parterre" [the lower floor]
Photo : Didier Rykner

Although the architectural choice made it impossible to section off the upper level, this might have been feasible under ground. The immensity of the main room is rather overpowering for the works. Anyone unfamiliar with Islamic art, will find it difficult to sort out this loosely organized accumulation of works. One wonders where to begin, which way to go. There is no clear guiding thread. The beauty of the architecture is somewhat spoiled by an impression of clutter [1] which reminds us somewhat of the presentations at the Musée du Quai Branly.

Ouverture du département des Arts de l’Islam au... par latribunedelart

This drawback is however relatively benign. The design and execution of the new Département des Arts de l’Islam (rounded out with newly installed rooms around the courtyard for works from the Eastern Mediterranean under the Roman Empire) is undeniably a beautiful achievement.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 19 septembre 2012


[1] Also, the choice of jargon does not shed much light : "The museographical project rejects the spatial breakup of the collection in favor of the sensorial continuity of the eyes as well as the fluidity of the visit. Free of any structural partition, large expanses offer a free organization of the exhibition periods providing evidence of the continuity as well as the stylistic articulation of Islamic arts" (!).

imprimer Print this article

Previous article in News Items : Several Sculpture Exhibitions in Parisian Galleries

Next article in News Items : The FRAMs Faced with Threat of 50 to 60% Cuts