Unseen Picasso portrait to be unveiled by Louvre Abu Dhabi


Pablo Picasso’s never before exhibited work, Portrait of a Lady is one of the art works in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection and included in the Birth of a Museum exhibition (22nd April- 20th July 2013). Recognised as the most legendary artist of the 20th century, Picasso contributed greatly to the construction of modern art with his unique fusion of representational art and experimenting between techniques and materials, utilising almost anything found around him. A practically unknown work, Portrait of a Lady has never been exhibited before, and only mentioned in A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 written by John Richardson in 2007.

Portrait of a Lady

The papier collé, a type of collage using glued paper cut-outs is, according to the hypothesis of Richardson, a portrait of famous socialite and fashion muse Natalie Paley, granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and wife of the couturier Lucien Lelong. A renowned model in her day, she was well-connected in fashionable Parisian circles. Picasso may have used photographs as a source, as he did for many other portraits, to capture her oval face, fine features, and slim silhouette.

Almost 130 artworks, some of which have never been seen or revealed before will be shown in Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District’s art and exhibition centre, and will give visitors insight into the museum’s narrative and collection ahead of its opening in 2015.

Born of an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France, Louvre Abu Dhabi will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance. The museum and its growing permanent collection is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi. Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures all over the world, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.

As with all exhibitions organised in preparation for the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District, it will be supported by a diverse Cultural Programme of talks, tours and workshops and a book detailing a significant part of the collection acquired to date will also be published and launched in April.

The first talk which will take place on 22 April at Manarat Al Saadiyat, entitled Louvre Abu Dhabi, a Museum in the Making features Hissa Al Dhaheri, Project Manager of Louvre Abu Dhabi, TCA Abu Dhabi and Laurence des Cars, Curatorial Director of the Agence France-Muséums, providing audiences an insight into the singular and original rereading of the history of artistic creation which will make Louvre Abu Dhabi unique. This will be followed by two others in May and June, which form part of the second Louvre Talking Art Series.

The general curator of the exhibition is Laurence des Cars, Curatorial Director of Agence France-Muséums (AFM), who is supported by a TCA Abu Dhabi and AFM team of diversified skill sets. Museography is done by architect Jean-François Bodin. Construction of the iconic building designed by Jean Nouvel has begun on Saadiyat Island and the Museography design is in progress.

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