Exhibition | From Afar: Travelling Materials and Objects

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 19, 2022

Now on view at the Louvre, a wide-ranging exhibition (geographically and temporally) that includes eighteenth-century objects:

From Afar: Travelling Materials and Objects
Musée du Louvre, Paris, 22 September 2021 — 4 July 2022

Organized by Philippe Malgouyres and Jean-Luc Martinez

Ivory Statuette of a Peddler, German, 1702–03, elephant tusk, diamond, silver gilt, and enamel, 8.4 cm high (Paris: Musée du Louvre). More information, with additional views, can be found here.

For its sixth season, the Petite Galerie offers a journey through time and around the world with the exhibition From Afar: Traveling Materials and Objects—complementing a cycle of exhibitions at the museum dedicated to discoveries and explorations of lands near and far: Paris–Athens: The Birth of Modern Greece, 1675–1919 in September and Pharaoh of the Two Lands: The African Story of the Kings of Napata in the spring.

Through materials and objects, the exhibition describes exchanges between distant worlds—including ancient exchanges often more extensive than explorations in the 16th century. From deepest antiquity, carnelian, lapis lazuli, ebony, and ivory circulated along trade routes, and these materials were even more precious because they came from afar. Their value was enriched by the myths surrounding their origins. Not only stones, shells and plants travelled between continents; so did live animals, often for political ends. The populace as well as artists discovered ostriches, giraffes, and elephants. Man-made objects followed the same routes. Beyond Europeans’ well-known yen for the exotic, the exhibition shows that these multiple round trips wove a more complex history: forms, techniques, and themes intertwined to create new objects, reflecting all the complexity of our world as it could be perceived in Europe from the late Middle Ages on.

The exhibition was organized by Philippe Malgouyres, curator at the Department of Decorative Arts, Musée du Louvre, and Jean-Luc Martinez, honorary president of the Musée du Louvre.

Philippe Malgouyres and Jean-Luc Martinez, with Florence Dinet, Venus d’ailleurs: Matériaux et objets voyageurs (Paris: Musée du Louvre / Éditions du Seuil, 2021), 192 pages, ISBN: 978-2021456264, €32.

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