Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority announces the
exhibition, Seeing Through Light: Selections from the
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection
The exhibition in Abu Dhabi will feature artworks by 18 international artists from the 1960s to
today exploring the theme of light.
(ABU DHABI, UAE September 24, 2014)—
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s pre-opening exhibition at
Manarat Al Saadiyat will introduce the future museum’s curatorial vision through a theme-based
collection presentation. This vision endeavours to foster a transcultural perspective on the history of art,
intended to encompass various legacies of modernism and the emergence of contemporary cultural
thought in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.
Comprised of sixteen artworks acquired specifically for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection, as well as two
key loans from its partner institution, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Seeing through
Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection examines the theme of light as a primary
aesthetic principle in art. This unifying thesis offers many avenues for interpretation, whether natural or
artificial, directed or reflected, interior or exterior, transcendent or celestial. The theme’s richness and
flexibility also has particular relevance across cultures and time periods.
HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA
Abu Dhabi) said: “Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s inaugural exhibition introduces the public to the collection
of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and illuminates not only the fabric of the museum itself but also its cultural
direction and broader role in the region’s international art scene. TCA Abu Dhabi has created a cultural
platform, through various community and education programmes, to inspire artistic experiences and
education that contributes to creating a unique cultural destination for residents and visitors”.
The exhibition unfolds through five sections that examine light in various iterations: Activated, Celestial,
Perceptual, Reflected, and Transcendent. While the exhibition begins chronologically in the 1960s (which
aligns with the start date for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection), it quickly blends time and mixes
established and mid-career artists, as well as assembling a diversity of media within each section. From
immersive environments that visitors can move around in and even through to video, painting and
sculpture, one will be able to experience light in all of its spatial, sensory and perceptual phenomena.
Some of the artists included are Angela Bulloch, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Robert Irwin,
Y.Z. Kami, Bharti Kher, Rachid Koraïchi, Yayoi Kusama, Otto Piene, and Douglas Wheeler.
With its poetic references to the start of a new era, Seeing Through Light is fitting for a premiere exhibition
of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s collection. This group of artworks illuminates the creative vision of the
future museum, offers the first glimpse of what is to come, and represents a significant milestone in the
evolution of the new museum. The diverse and popular theme of light presented in the exhibition is just
one narrative that may be more fully explored in Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s future museum designed by
Frank Gehry, itself a monument to light whose glass-covered cones are guaranteed to become beacons
on the cultural landscape of Abu Dhabi.
Seeing through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection is curated by Susan
Davidson, Senior Curator, Collections and Exhibitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, with Sasha
Kalter-Wasserman, Assistant Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project, Solomon R. Guggenheim
Foundation, and Maisa Al Qassimi, Programmes Manager, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi
Tourism & Culture Authority.
About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding
and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education
programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when
the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection,
Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997) and the
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development). Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation
continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design
beyond the walls of the museum, including with the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, and
with The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. More information about the
foundation can be found at guggenheim.org.
About Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be a museum that promotes the understanding and appreciation of
contemporary art, architecture, and other manifestations of modern and contemporary visual culture from
an international perspective. The museum will support a transnational curatorial programme of art and
visual culture from the 1960s to the present with a strong focus on art from the Middle East exploring the
specific identity derived from the cultural traditions of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. The
museum and its growing permanent collection is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi.
Surrounded almost entirely by water, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will have spectacular views of the Saadiyat
Cultural District and Arabian Gulf. Galleries, many unprecedented in scale, are distributed around the
central atrium on four levels connected by glass bridges above. Open to the elements, the museum
cones housing contemporary art commissions, recall the region’s ancient wind-towers, which both
ventilate and shade the exterior courtyards in a fitting blend of Arabian tradition and modern design. The
museum will also feature a 350-seat theatre, education workshops and classrooms, an onsite conservation
lab, as well as a retail store, cafes, and a restaurant.
The museum will be a catalyst for scholarship in a variety of fields, chief among them the history of art in
the Middle East in the 20th and 21st centuries. A dynamic programme of changing exhibitions will explore
common themes and affinities among the work of artists across time and geography. An ambitious
programme of commissions created for the collection and exceptional spaces of the Guggenheim Abu
Dhabi will reinforce the museum’s commitment to working with artists and the art of our time.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is being developed in collaboration with Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
which, since its foundation in 1937, has promoted the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture
and other manifestations of visual culture, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods.
September 24, 2014