The roof of the Louvre's new Islamic art department undulates like golden fabric gently lifted by the wind—a feat, considering it is made of steel and glass and weighs almost 150 tons. Filling a neoclassical courtyard, the addition that opened last fall tripled the space devoted to Islamic art and more than doubled the number of objects on view to almost 3,000, or about a sixth of the museum's works from the Islamic world.
In contrast to the spectacular architecture by Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, the installation is understated, an elegant version of open-storage: objects grouped in long glass cases; larger pieces—carved steles, inlaid doors, stone latticed windows—clustered on low pedestals; and architectural fragments affixed to partitions. The flooring is dark, the passageways plain and the lighting democratic, giving shards of earthenware as much attention as finely woven rugs from Iran, a jewel-encrusted dagger from Mughal India or 14th-century enameled blown-glass lamps from Egypt and Syria that are about as close to numinous as objects can get.
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Posted January 25, 2013 at 9:00 am
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