Monday, December 1, 2014

Art Exhibits on Medieval and Contemporary Morocco in Paris

Here is a piece from  Al-Ahram on two exhibits, one on medieval Morocco at the Louvre and the other on contemporary Moroccan art and culture taking place at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris.

Morocco comes to Paris

by David Tresilian

PARIS - The late king Hassan II of Morocco is reported to have said that his country was something like a tree “with its roots in Africa and its branches in Europe.” Visitors to the French capital will find that it is Morocco’s European branches that are in the spotlight this autumn, with a major show on the kingdom’s mediaeval history taking over the temporary exhibition spaces at the Louvre and an intriguing exhibition of contemporary Moroccan art and culture occupying most of the Institut du monde arabe a short distance away in the seventh arrondissement.

Both exhibitions are jointly sponsored by the French and Moroccan authorities, with king Mohammed VI of Morocco giving his patronage to both. While the Louvre show is an ideal opportunity for visitors to remind themselves of Morocco’s sometimes complicated mediaeval history, presented with the museum’s customary curatorial scholarship and savoir-faire, the exhibition at the Institut du monde arabe is more surprising, perhaps even edgy in its choice of works on show. Both have been drawing large and appreciative audiences, raising Morocco’s European profile and contributing to knowledge of the country abroad.

The Louvre show, opening on 17 October, presents visitors with artifacts illustrating Morocco’s early history from the conversion of the country to Islam in the 8th century CE to the fall of the ruling Marinid Dynasty some seven centuries later. It is the first major exhibition on the Muslim world to have been held at the Louvre since the opening of the museum’s department of Islamic art two years ago (reviewed in the Weekly in September 2012), and according to curators Yannick Lintz, Claire Delery and Bulle Tuil-Leonetti it is intended to serve as a manifesto piece for other exhibitions to follow.

The idea behind the show, the curators comment, is to allow visitors to “find out more about the art and culture that a particular area was producing during a specific period of time, in this case the area between Africa and Europe over a period of five centuries from the 10th to the 15th centuries CE. This period corresponds to the Middle Ages in western Europe, and the centre of this area was Morocco and the great cities of Fes, Marrakech and Rabat that were founded at this time along with the Spanish cities of Cordoba and Seville that were embellished by the Moroccan ruling dynasties.”