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For the Louvre Abu Dhabi 02

Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer, a conceptual artist born in the United States in 1950, has worked for nearly forty years on the subjects of writing and language in installations and sculptures that are often concerned with death, war and violence inflicted on women. For the Louvre Abu Dhabi, she has used advanced technologies to enlarge and engrave three ancient texts on large stone panels embedded into the walls. Her early fondness for the space of the streets reappears in what she sees as an “ideal archaic village” sheltered by the futuristic dome of Jean Nouvel. Equally attentive to the aesthetic appearance of these texts and to their meaning, she worked with the scholarly team to select texts written in different languages and alphabets. One, taken from a Mesopotamian tablet, one of earliest known, is in cuneiform script and in harmony with the works exhibited at the very start of the museum’s presentation. The two others, in Arabic and Latin script, echo the languages used in the Louvre Abu Dhabi. By endowing these texts with a monumental and spatial dimension, the artist has established a dialogue between them while also displaying their formal beauty and universal relevance.
These texts are from the Muqaddimah (1375) by Ibn Khaldun (1332 - 1406), regarded among the founding fathers of modern sociology, historiography and economics. The work constitutes the first part of his Kitab al-Ibar or Book of Lessons, in which he laid the foundations of history as a discipline and addressed questions of philosophy, Islamic theology, natural science, chemistry and alchemy. Written in the naskh style of cursive Arabic, these pages were reproduced from his original manuscripts in the Atif Efendi Library, Istanbul. The text on the left speaks of the soul driven by the activity of the brain to produce a constant stream of thought. The central text addresses the question of poetry, which he regards as being inseparable from song. The one on the right presents a poem by the calligrapher Ibn al-Bawwab on the art of calligraphy, which Ibn Khaldun considered a masterpiece of this genre.

Artwork Details

Artist: Jenny Holzer
Title: For the Louvre Abu Dhabi 02
Geography: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date: 2017

Medium: limestone

Classification: sculpture
Dimensions: 11 x 11.5 m; 11 x 6.5 m
Contact for images: [email protected]


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