Cartier Islamic Inspiration Design
Cartier, Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design
23.03.2024
   Reading 3 min
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Louvre Abu Dhabi invites everyone to attend Cartier, Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design, a show it is hosting until the 24th of March, 2024. Co-organised with the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Musée du Louvre, and France Muséums in partnership with Cartier, the exhibition explores how the Islamic arts have influenced this French luxury brand’s designs from the 1920s onwards. It is curated by Judith Henon-Raynaud (curator and deputy director of the Department of Islamic Art, the Musée du Louvre) and Évelyne Possémé (former chief curator of Ancient and Modern Jewellery, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs).

The exhibit is rooted in Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity, a project by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris) and the Dallas Museum of Art (Texas, USA). Cartier and Islamic Art first took place at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2021, which was followed by its presentation at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2022. The exhibition at Louvre Abu Dhabi is a re-imagined edition of this travelling show.

Cartier, Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design (installation view). Louvre Abu Dhabi, 2023-2024.

At the turn of the 20th century, Europe became fascinated with Islamic art as well as Middle Eastern and South Asian artistic traditions. Louis Cartier, grandson of the company founder, was one of those intrigued by them and eventually gathered an impressive private collection of Islamic art which became a wellspring for creativity within the Maison. In 1911, his brother Jacques Cartier went to the Arabian Gulf in search of the best pearls and to India, where he explored the precious stones market. Jacques brought back some remarkable worked gems (carved, ribbed, or polished) and diverse jewellery from maharajahs that would influence the Maison for many years.

Dish with a blue saz leaf. Turkey, Iznik, ca. 1580. Ceramic with painted underglaze.
Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, LAD 2012.045.
Photo: Ismail Noor / Seeing Things. Courtesy of Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

The exhibition takes visitors on a journey examining what served as sources of inspiration for the jewellers and their creative process. It showcases more than 400 artefacts: jewellery, precious objects, majestic examples of Islamic art, drawings, textiles, photos, miniatures, and archival documents. The exhibits are on loan from such esteemed institutions as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée du Louvre, Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Collection of Cartier itself, to name a few.

Fragment of architectural decoration, Iran, Ray, 14th–15th century. Ceramic mosaic with coloured glazes.
Paris, France, Musée du Louvre, Department of Islamic Art, AFI 1917.
Courtesy of Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

Among the notable objects on view are, for example, a Dish with a blue Saz leaf, dotted tulips, and roses (16th century, Iznik, Turkey) and a Fragment of a mosaic panel with geometric decoration (14th-15th century). The multiple art pieces from the Cartier Collection that visitors can look at include a Vanity Case (Cartier Paris, 1924), a Cigarette Case (Cartier Paris, 1930), and a splendid Hindu necklace (Cartier Paris, 1936). The latter comprises two pieces from India and incorporates gold, diamond, ruby, and emerald, among other precious materials.

“Hindu” Necklace Cartier Paris, 1936, altered in 1963. Platinum, gold, diamond, sapphire, emerald, ruby.
Cartier Collection, NE 28 A36. Photo: Khushnum Bhandari / The National.

There is also a special immersive space in the exhibition designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (a design studio based in New York, USA), so apart from admiring dazzling artworks on display, visitors are welcome to explore Islamic patterns and the Cartier artisans’ design process through digital projections. Two infinity rooms offer one a 180° visual experience, allowing them to dive into mesmerising animated patterns.

To get more information about Cartier, Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design, please visit the show’s official web page.

You may also be interested in visiting the Dubai Pearl Museum. Besides, you might like Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery, an exhibition at Tabari Artspace, and Dream Chronicles at ToDA.

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