H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Louvre Abu Dhabi, inaugurated the ground-breaking exhibition Cartier, Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design, opening from 16 November 2023 to 24 March 2024. Co-organised by Louvre Abu Dhabi, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée du Louvre and France Muséums, with the support of Maison Cartier, the exhibition explores the influence of Islamic art on Cartier’s design from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day.
Cartier, Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design is co-curated by Judith Henon-Raynaud, Chief Curator and Deputy Director of the Department of Islamic Art at the Musée du Louvre and Évelyne Possémé, Former Chief Curator of Ancient and Modern Jewellery at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, with the assistance of Fakhera Alkindi, Senior Curatorial Assistant at Louvre Abu Dhabi. This exhibition builds upon a project titled Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity (Paris-Dallas 2021-2022), which was initially conceived and co-organised by the Dallas Museum of Art and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, with the exceptional collaboration of the Musée du Louvre and the support of Maison Cartier. The exhibition was curated by Heather Ecker, Judith Henon-Raynaud, Évelyne Possémé and Sarah Schleuning.
At the turn of the 20th century, the organisation of major exhibitions dedicated to Islamic art and the massive arrival of works, particularly Persian and Indian paintings and manuscripts, led to the development of a true Persian fashion in Paris.
Louis Cartier, grandson of the founder of the Maison, was deeply intrigued by these artistic traditions that he discovered in the Parisian art market. In search of new sources of inspiration, he enriched the Maison's study library with the latest publications dedicated to Islamic arts and architecture. This library would be an endless source of patterns for the Maison's designers, possibly the original source. In the 1910s, Louis Cartier initiated a personal collection of Islamic art, which he made available to the Maison's designers. In 1911, his brother Jacques Cartier travelled to India to reinforce ties with maharajas, and to the Arabian Gulf region to investigate the pearl market. The discovery of the patterns and shapes in architecture, artworks, and literature unlocked a new realm of modern artistic expression for the Maison, right up to the artistic direction of Jeanne Toussaint and even today.
The exhibition’s chapters explore the Maison’s sources of inspiration and its creative process through over 400 objects from the collections of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée du Louvre, and Cartier Collection and Archives, as well as exceptional loans from Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris and other lenders, spanning masterpieces of Islamic art, jewellery, drawings, design sketches, miniatures, textiles, photographs and archival material.