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Larry Gagosian to Present Masterpieces from His Private Collection
Cy Twombly, The Rose (IV) 2001 © Cy Twombly.

ABU DHABI.- Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) at Manarat Al Saadiyat presents the world premiere of RSTW (Rauschenberg, Ruscha, Serra, Twombly, Warhol and Wool), a novel exhibition of masterpieces from the private collection of one of the art world’s preeminent figures, Larry Gagosian. This event will challenge the perception of what it means to be simultaneously a private collector and public figure, while instigating a paradigm shift in modern aesthetic experiences. In Abu Dhabi, new dimensions are explored; RSTW will explore the collector behind the art dealer.

HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC, says of this exhibition “The creation of this show marks another key moment in the development of Abu Dhabi’s cultural ambitions. Our aim is to continue translating the cultural vision of Abu Dhabi and its leaders, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. We have partnered with the world’s cultural institutions to organize and create exceptional exhibitions in Abu Dhabi but we are also committed to discover and exhibit private collections. Exhibiting for the first time the private collection of Larry Gagosian is another way to reemphasize the dedication of Abu Dhabi to offer our audiences new experiences.”

Rauschenberg, Ruscha, Serra, Twombly, Warhol, and Wool – few other names resonate the influence and pervasiveness of 20th century postwar American art, or symbolise the authority of western cultural production. Each of these epoch‐defining artists has expanded the discursive parameters of contemporary art, for instance, Rauschenberg’s formal bricolage that mixes abstract expressionism and everyday objects such as in the seminal Overdrive (1963); Serra’s redefinition of sculpture with his monumental dynamics in Malmo Roll (1984); and Warhol’s iconic Pop works, such as Brillo Soap Pads Box (1960) and Mao (1972) that form the single most influential deconstruction of mass‐media culture. These masterpieces – painting, sculptures, drawings, and photography – have never before been exhibited together. They arrive at a time when Abu Dhabi is making huge strides in the development of its cultural platform at Saadiyat Island; a unique space for the examination and experimentation of arts and culture.

Anne Baldassari, the President of the Fondation Picasso , was invited to interpret Gagosian’s collection, as the exhibition’s curator. Baldassari proposed to present a deliberately partial interpretation through the most emblematic artists’ work. The seemingly arbitrary nature of the alphabetical ordering, offers a new perspective on the notion of a collection. The works selected offer a slice of art history through an arrangement of forms and techniques – a multiplicity of realities that will occupy the Manarat Al Saadiyat space. A tension is created between the subjectivity of the absent collector, the significance of the works selected and the sequence in which they are displayed. This intelligent approach to the exhibition provides the visitors a space where they will be able to construct their own meaning from the works on show.

RSTW is a major step in the realisation of TDIC Cultural Department’s aim to provide a platform for an experiential exploration of art and culture. RSTW – as an exhibition that dares to challenge and generate new conceptions of art – is emblematic of Abu Dhabi’s overall cultural strategy. The variety of forms and techniques of the works on show highlights TDIC’s holistic method of developing the Abu Dhabi arts scene, in both instigating aesthetic discourses, while building a platform for audience engagement. TDIC is displaying some of the world’s indubitable masterpieces to an older generation who might never have experienced such works, and to the younger generation who are in the process of defining their own artistic and cultural impressions.

Manarat Al Saadiyat, a novel exhibition space situated within the Saadiyat Island landscape, presents an opportunity for Abu Dhabi to make a statement of both regional and international significance. This “contemporary collection” parallels the idea of Abu Dhabi as a place of accelerated progress, raising debates about the definition of contemporary in a space which is always in the process of becoming new. Additionally, each of the artists featured in the exhibition is the offspring of second generation immigrants from Europe. Manarat Al Saadiyat offers a new context for these artist’s masterpieces, thereby creating challenging new narratives and establishing the Middle East at the epicentre of a new arts movement.

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