To begin with, I wasn’t convinced by the imagery of the multiple watch springs combined with a flat dome, making the Louvre look a tiny bit like an alien spacecraft, landed with treasures from around the world, but it has the virtues of intellectual coherence and confidence, which I’m sure was what was intended, and is more impressive than any other recent museum that I can think of: most like the Getty in its construction of a universe:-
I have just had the briefest, but most exhilarating introduction to the treasures of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, first of all to Jean Nouvel’s astonishing interiors – more interesting inside than outside because you get a sense of the depth of the shallow dome and the way in which light plays through it:-
And then the briefest of walking tour introductions to the thinking behind the displays: the dream of the Universal Survey Museum, extended to cover all cultures and all religions through time, starting with antiquity:-
All religions – Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Buddhism – and, in the nineteenth century, primitive masks alongside the Impressionists. I didn’t have time to digest it, but it is certainly done with the utmost intellectual confidence and displayed beautifully and authoritatively in display cases designed by Nouvel as well, which gives it a strong sense of systematic integration.
Then, I had to leave for Sydney (the museum is closed on Mondays).
I wanted to see the new Louvre early in the day before it’s too hot later. It hovers mysteriously in a big parkland of fresh planting:-
Up close, it’s impressive – a great shallow dome of what look like watch springs, close to the water:-
From some angles, you get no more than a glimpse of what happens under the dome:-
I will discover later:-
I have already done a post about the restoration of Wickham’s, the local East End department store which was built to rival Selfridge’s and has now been impressively repaired and repointed in all its 1920s, neoclassical glory. It looks like Valhalla:-
I fell into conversation this morning with the man who sells bread at Stepney Farmer’s Market. I had always assumed that he baked it himself as he is often late setting up his stall, as if he he has only just managed to extract himself from the oven. But, no, it comes from an industrial estate in Inkpen on the Berkshire Downs, made by Syd Aston of Aston’s bakehouse and supplied to farmer’s markets all over London. I’m not complaining: it’s very good:-
We were also able to see and admire the collection of works assembled by Caroline Lucas MP to show the qualities of the local landscape and, by implication, how far it is at risk from the catastrophe of radical climate change. It has been done deliberately in parallel with the David Nash exhibition, exploring some of the same themes of art and its relationship to the natural world. Not least, the exhibition reveals some of the great and often unseen wealth of the Towner’s collection.
William Nicholson, Judd Farm:-
Alan Reynolds, Moonlit Orchard:-
Eric Ravilious, Beachy Head:-
We drove down to Eastbourne to see the David Nash exhibition, including grand, monumental wood sculptures from his studio in Capel Rhiw:-
It’s about the poetry of wood – its texture and characteristics when cut and warped, atavistic:-