New Louvre Abu Dhabi Exhibition Showcases the Glamour and Artistry of Indian Cinema

As part of its rich 2022-2023 cultural season, Louvre Abu Dhabi has announced its upcoming exhibition, Bollywood Superstars: A Short Story of Indian Cinema, opening from 24 January and running until 4 June 2023. Organised in partnership with Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and France Muséums, the exhibition will showcase the depth and richness of the Indian sub-continent’s art and civilisation through its long tradition of image making, and the diversity of the Indian filmmaking industry.

Through more than 80 artworks including photographs, textiles, graphic arts, costumes and over 30 film extracts, the exhibition explores the rich history of the Indian cinema from its beginnings in the late 19th century up to the present. The artworks come from the collections of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Musée de l’armée, Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, al-Sabah Collection, Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation and Priya Paul Collection.

The exhibition is co-curated by Julien Rousseau, Curator and Head of the Asian Collections, Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, and Hélène Kessous, PhD in Social Anthropology and Ethnology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, with the support of Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Director of Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management at Louvre Abu Dhabi.

As the world’s leading film producer, India currently produces more than 1,500 films a year in about 20 languages, which are then exported throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Through Bollywood Superstars, museumgoers will discover how Indian pioneers utilised nascent image technologies such as lithograph and photography, kickstarting the journey from the birth of the first films to grand musical features. Visitors will gain a deeper understanding of the international success of Bollywood and an appreciation of the diversity of Indian cinematography. The comprehensive displays span the history of Indian cinema from storytelling, dance, and pre-cinema to the influence of religion and mythology and the rise of Bollywood superstars.

Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, commented: “In a museum that invites visitors to discover artworks from all over the world, we are privileged to work again with Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac on this exhibition that explores the image in movement, after our first collaboration in 2019 on an exhibition about the development of photography in its first years of existence. Bollywood Superstars is a feast not only to Indian audiences who are among the most important nationalities that visit Louvre Abu Dhabi, but also to everyone with an appetite for the rich culture of the sub-continent and its roots.”

Emmanuel Kasarhérou, President of the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, said: “Bollywood Superstars stands out for the quality and originality of its content. It is bound to appeal to visitors at Louvre Abu Dhabi, an vital and influential institution that the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac is honoured to be associated with.”

Highlights from the exhibition include artworks from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection such as a Page from a Harivamsa Series: Krishna and His Courtiers by the Sea at Pandaraka (ca. 1820, Kangra, India); Mail and Plate Armour, Called “Four Mirrors” Armour (ca. 1600 – 1800, Mughal, India); and Krishna Surrounded by Gopis (ca. 1655, Rajasthan, India). Highlight loans from partner museums include a statuette of Krishna as a child playing the flute (second half of the 19th century, Rajasthan, India) from Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac; a Dagger (late 17th Century, Kuwait) from al-Sabah Collection; Indian Armour (18th Century) from Musée de l’armée; and a Coat (19th century) from Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet. Cinema buffs will especially enjoy the screening of several iconic film extracts that have left an indelible mark on the history of Indian cinema.
The exhibition’s curators, Julien Rousseau and Hélène Kessous, said: “This exhibition is a tribute to Bollywood and can be enjoyed by both Indian cinema fans and the wider public. We hope that it portrays the full richness of Asian traditions and tells the stories that led to the birth of this cinema. The exhibition celebrates Bollywood superstars who are adored by their fans in India in a way that is rarely seen elsewhere in the world.”

Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Director of Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management at Louvre Abu Dhabi said: “This exhibition provides a unique insight into an art genre that has a vast history and powerful present. The exhibition visitors will discover the depth of the Indian filmmaking industry since its beginning in the 19th century and gain a unique perspective into the richness of forms that pervaded its creation. The cross-influences, boosted by technology progress, underline the continued presence of the great mythological and literary narratives in Indian culture, and the vitality of its regional cultures. We are delighted to bring this exhibition to life to showcase the diversity of the Indian cinema.”

Bollywood Superstars is supported by PureHealth, as Louvre Abu Dhabi’s exhibition season partner. Details of the rich cultural and educational programme accompanying Bollywood Superstars: A Short Story of Indian Cinema will be announced at a later date. For more information about the exhibition and to book tickets, please visit louvreabudhabi.ae or call Louvre Abu Dhabi at +971 600 56 55 66. Entrance to the exhibition is free with the museum’s general admission tickets. Admission to the museum is free for children under the age of 18.
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