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ART

France to loan Louvre Abu Dhabi 300 artworks

France will loan some of its finest art - including works by Da Vinci and Warhol - to the "Louvre Abu Dhabi" a brand new, €500 million museum in the Middle East.

France to loan Louvre Abu Dhabi 300 artworks
The "Louvre Abu Dahbi" will borrow some of France's finest artworks. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh will be among 300 works displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Emirate said on Sunday, as it aims to become a leader in fine art.

The museum, built at a cost of €500 million ($630 million) and set to open in December 2015, will feature paintings and sculptures from 13 of France's most renowned collections spanning from pre-Bronze Age to Pop Art, it said in a statement.

"This will be the first time many of these works will travel to Abu Dhabi or even the Middle East, and are a rare opportunity to see important art from French museums," said Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, chairman of the organisation behind the project.

The loaned works include da Vinci's Portrait of an Unknown Woman, Claude Monet's Saint Lazare Station and Andy Warhol's Big Electric Chair, as well as ancient statues, vases and masks from across Asia and Africa.

Many of France's grand museums, including the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay and the Palace of Versailles will loan art to Abu Dhabi as part of a 30-year collaboration with the Emirate worth €1 billion ($1.3 billion).

French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin said the loaning of the works was "an acknowledgement of both the extraordinary richness of our national collections and the expertise of our museums".

The 64,000-square-metre (700,000-square-foot) Louvre Abu Dhabi, built on the island of Saadiyat in the oil-flush Emirate, will have 6,000 square metres dedicated to permanent installations and 2,000 set aside for temporary exhibitions.

Hovering above the complex will be a giant, 180-metre (yard) dome perforated with designs that will project light patterns in the shape of palm trees on the exhibition space below.

 'Birth of a Museum'

In 2007, Abu Dhabi paid $520 million just to use the name of Paris' world famous art museum.

A model replica of the Louvre Abu Dhabi was displayed at its parent gallery last year with a selection of what will eventually become the Emirate's permanent collection in an exhibition titled "The Birth of a Museum".

Also being loaned from France are Titian's The Woman with a Mirror, Jacques-Louis David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps and Edouard Manet's The Fife Player.

Among artworks from antiquity heading to Abu Dhabi are a 4,000-year-old statue of Mesopotamian ruler Gudea, a figurine of King Ramses II from Egypt's 19th dynasty, and a 16th century ornate Nigerian salt seller.

Each piece will be displayed in Abu Dhabi for up to two years, before the number of loaned French works decreases over the course of a decade as the museum builds its own collection.

A French source told AFP that normally-conservative Abu Dhabi had not censored any nudity or religious symbolism that appear in the donated works.

"No work has been refused," for a collection that includes a Jewish Tora from Yemen, an ancient Hindu statue, a Buddha and works evoking African Animism, the source said.

According to its creators, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, is the largest global cultural project since New York's Metropolitan Museum opened in 1870.

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TOURISM

New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

IN DETAIL: When do France’s top tourist sites reopen?

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