Some French art lovers are furious that the government plans to build a branch of the world-famous Louvre (pictured in my masthead) in Abu Dhabi. It would be the first foreign annex of the museum. The row apparently stems from controversy over France making money from the deal, signed this week in Abu Dhabi.
Under terms of the agreement Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, will pay millions of euros over 30 years to display art on loan from French museums. The emirate will pay 400 million euros (about $524m) for the privilege of using the Louvre name. Agence France Presse reported the first payment of 150m euros will be made within a month. Critics say this amounts to using France's rich artistic heritage for purely commercial ends. "Our museums are not for sale," proclaims an online petition posted on La Tribune de l'Art. It is signed by 4,700 people, including curators, art historians and archaeologists.
But the French culture ministry says the deal represents an "exceptional chance" for the French art world. The deal, signed by Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Sheikh Sultan bin Tannoun, paves the way for a "Louvre Abu Dhabi," slated to open in 2012. While the architect will be French, construction costs will be paid by the emirate.
Critics contend the art will be displayed in a "random, unscientific" way in Abu Dhabi and that transporting hundreds of fragile works is fraught with risk. Louvre President Henri Loyrette has defended the agreement, but said he "understands the concerns." He has announced a new body, composed primarily of curators, to oversee the "scientific quality of the project and the respect of ethical rules."
The second photo is the back of an art nouveau pewter notepad found opening day at the brocante at Chatou.