Abu Dhabi Overtakes Dubai

New Culture Capital Emerges

Paul Carter Robinson explores

Abu Dhabi is rapidly moving ahead of rival Dubai by initiating a far more interesting cultural development agenda. The program is intelligent, green and more importantly, in tune with metro-life circa 2010 and beyond. If you are trying to attract tourists with a certain level of sophistication and spending power, then create something to do and see. Dubai seems to be going for the “ice cream and pop corn crowd”. They have created a vast up-market shopping mall with casinos and Disney like theme parks devoid of anything possessing cultural content. Abu Dhabi is breaking away from this excess by adding  something substantial and less disposable. This is leaving Dubai behind,in a light that is all glitz and no content. Abu Dhabi is far-sighted,by 2013 the capital of the United Arab Emirates will present an offshoot of the Louvre, a third extension of the  Guggenheim museum, a National Museum modeled on the British Museum and a performing arts Centre designed by the British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. It will also accommodate art schools and  various pavilions for other innovative cultural events. They will also have the capacity to host special exhibitions and fairs. A huge 10-lane bridge will bring the predicted visitors to this meticulously planned development in droves. It is estimated that 40 million people travel through the UAE each year, This is a market ready to tap. “Abu Dhabi wants to become the bridge between East and West. With the likes of the internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry who is designing the Guggenheim’s  450,000 sq ft structure  it is bound to impress even the most jaded artonista  It will be far more impressive than his museum in Bilbao and is based around a random configuration of blocks, set one above the other,  around a courtyard surrounding the massive gallery spaces. Hadid’s performing arts Centre swoops from the ground like a futuristic bird. It will incorporate a concert auditorium, a music hall, housing one of the world’s biggest opera houses. The theatres will accommodate  up to 6,000 people making it a world class music and drama venue. The National Museum, has been entrusted to the master British architect Norman Foster. Abu Dhabi hopes to imitate the so-called “Bilbao effect”, by taking  a relatively unknown place and turning it into a global culture Centre. This effect took place after the Guggenheim Foundation opened a  Gehry-designed museum in the Basque city in northern Spain. Already a massive program of acquisitions has begun at the off shoot of the Louvre and ArtLyst is anticipating an equally exciting program at the Guggenheim.

Louvre Acquisitions :

Edouard Manet (1832-1883) The Bohemian, 1861-1862 Oil

Edouard Manet (1832-1883) Les Gitanos Engravin,

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-8167) Don Pedro de Toledo Kissing the Sword of Henri IV, 1820 Oil on panel

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) Composition with blue, red, yellow and black, 1922 Oil on canvas

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682) Jacob’s dream, c. 1665 Oil


Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Bavaria or Austria c. 1515 Christ Revealing His Wounds (detail) Wood polychrome

Ascribed to Jean Court, called Vigier (? – before 1583) Platter depicting the Wedding Banquet of Psyche, third quarter of the XVIth century Enamel paint in grisaille on copper

Achille Hermansreyt Canister Tower, 1657 Turned and carved ivory, leather case

Pierre Legrain (1888-1929) Curule Stool, c. 1920-1925 Beech coloured like walnut tree


ArtLyst 2009


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