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For the Louvre Abu Dhabi 03

2017
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 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.
The French humanist Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592) advocated tolerance at a time when France was torn by religious wars. He began to write at the age of 37, drawing on his own experience in the belief that “every man bears the whole stamp of the human condition”. The first edition of his Essais appeared in 1588 but he reread and corrected them four years later. The pages reproduced are from his original personal copy now in the library of Bordeaux (France). Through the marginal notes added by Montaigne right up to his death, they show us the very working of his mind. The page on the left develops the idea that even the smallest of our actions reveals and reflects our mind and character, while the one on the right uses the question "What do I know?" to show how hard it is for us to relinquish our certainties and engage in dialogue and discussion.

Artwork Details

Artist: Jenny Holzer
Title: For the Louvre Abu Dhabi 03
Geography: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date: 2017

Medium: limestone

Classification: sculpture
Dimensions: 7.5 x 14 m; 7.5 x 9 m
Contact for images: images@louvreabudhabi.ae

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