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All photos courtesy of Qatar Museums

More than 120 works by renowned 20th Century artists Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti will be shown in Qatar for the first time next year.

The free exhibition runs from Feb. 23 to May 21, 2017 at the Doha Fire Station. It will be the first time that pieces by these artists will be exhibited in the Middle East, Qatar Museums said.

The collection includes paintings, sculptures, sketches and photographs, as well as interviews with the artists.

Fire Station

Chantelle D'mello

Fire Station

They will all be on display in the exhibition space of the converted old Civil Defense building on Wadi Al Sail.

The exhibition will include some major works by both artists spanning decades of their careers, such as Picasso’s Self Portrait (1901), Woman Throwing a Stone (1931) and The She Goat (1950).

Meanwhile, key pieces by Giacometti include Flower in Danger (1932), Tall Woman (1960) and Walking Man (1960).

In addition to the original works, there will also be some rare and fragile casts, newly-discovered drawings and photographic archives.

Finally, the exhibition will include some replicas of Giacometti’s works for visually impaired visitors to touch, QM said in a statement yesterday.

Qatar exhibition

The exhibition follows on the heels of a bigger version of the Picasso-Giacometti show, which is currently open to the public at the Musée National Picasso in Paris.

That display contains around 200 works across eight sections and runs until Feb. 5 next year, closing just two weeks before the Doha exhibition opens.

The pieces on display in Qatar are on loan mostly from the Musée National Picasso and the Fondation Giacometti, which are both based in Paris. There will also be other works borrowed from collections internationally.

Pablo Picasso's The Bathers


Pablo Picasso\’s The Bathers

The collection will be divided into six sections. Each will cover different aspects of each artist’s work – from their early pieces as young artists to more modern ones.

It will chart “the correspondences between their works, the influence of the surrealist movement, and the return to realism during the post-war period,” QM said.

Previously, experts at the two Paris galleries spent two years researching the links between the artists.

They found documents, notebooks and sketches showing that, despite a 20-year age difference, they shared personal moments with each other.

These ranged from their first meeting in the early 1930s until after the second World War.

Catherine Grenier, director of the Fondation Giacometti, curated the Doha exhibition along with associate curators Serena Bucalo-Mussely, also from the Fondation Giacometti, and Virginie Perdrisot from the Musee National Picasso-Paris.

Artists’ hub

This is the biggest exhibition to be hosted by the Fire Station since it opened in 2015 as a gallery. It also contains a café and studio space for emerging artists.

Previous exhibitions include work from those taking part in its Artists’ in Residence program, which is now in its second year.

Installation of the artwork at the Fire Station

Qatar Museums/Twitter

Installation of artwork at the Fire Station

Although the items on display in this exhibition will all be international loans, Qatar is rumored to have bought some of its own Picasso works.

In 2013, Picasso’s Child With Dove painting sold in London for $74.5 million and left the UK after 85 years there – reportedly to travel to Qatar.

Who’s planning on going to the exhibition? Thoughts?

 All photos by Navin Sam

A new exhibition that charts artists’ perspectives on the changing social, environmental and cultural norms in Qatar and Brazil has opened at Al Riwaq, heralding the end of the year of culture between the two nations.

Here There (Huna Hunak), which runs until March 30, divides the exhibition space in the grounds of the Museum of Art Park into two, with one half devoted to showcasing the works of 19 Qatari artists (here) and 23 artists from Brazil (there).

It explores the transformation of  environmental, cultural and social experiences in Qatar and Brazil as presented through the eyes of each country’s most promising and talented young artists, the exhibition pieces are produced in traditional media such as paintings, drawings and printmaking as well as digital art, installations and interactive works.

Taking part in the show are first-time exhibitors, as well to more established and well-known figures. While the artists have varying backgrounds and experiences, they have been brought together by their attempts to show appreciation and understanding of other cultures.

Though their backgrounds, experience and circumstances vary, each artist has attempted to show their roots and how their heritage is being shaped by ongoing changes in their cultures.

Here There

Navin Sam

Here There

Organized by the Qatar Museums Public Art department, local Qatari works selected for the exhibition have been curated by Alanoud Al-Buainain and co-curated by Khalifa Al-Obaidly.

The Brazilian art has been curated by Gunnar B. Kvaran of the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, and Thierry Raspail, director of the Musée d’art contemportain, Lyon.

“The variety of works explores thought-provoking and challenging themes that people of both countries will understand and relate to,” Al Buainain said.

Gunnar B. Kvaran, curator of the Brazilian art works, said he hoped that the exhibition would help the audience in Qatar have a better understanding of arts and culture in Brazil.

Year of culture

The 12 months of cultural exchange between Qatar and Brazil opened in January at the Museum of Islamic Art and included dozens of events focusing on art and fashion contests, community events and special film screenings and exhibitions.

It was Qatar’s third year of culture, following Qatar-Japan in 2012 and Qatar UK 2013.

Fire Station


QM Fire Station

Also this week, QM has announced that it is opening applications for emerging artists to take part in its Artist in Residence program at the under-construction Fire Station.

Locally-based artists can bid for a nine-month residency based at the new arts center and gallery in the old Civil Defense building.

Some 20 residencies are available that are initially only open to residents of Qatar, although it is hoped the program will eventually widen its scope to include regional artists.

Each artist accepted into the program is entitled to one of the building’s 24 studios, and would have 24/7 access. Every June, a “Garage gallery” will feature an exhibition to showcase productions by the artists.

The first phase of the new center was scheduled to open in November this year, however works are still ongoing at the site, with a new opening date of March 2015 planned, a QM spokesman told Doha News.

The conversion of the old fire house on Wadi Al Sail has not been without problems. The complex has twice caught fire, in August then again in September this year, as construction crews were renovating the iconic building.

On both occasions, the fire broke out in the garage, adjacent to the main building but was quickly brought under control.

Do you plan to check out the final Brazil/Qatar exhibition? Thoughts?

Note: This article was updated on December 7 to include the new, expected opening date for the Fire Station.

Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani

By Ammar Abd Rabbo

Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums (QM) and sister of the Emir, has been named one of the world’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Art by a leading international art industry website.

Artnet News featured Sheikha Al Mayassa in the first installment of its female global power players in the art world this week, as part of a year-long celebration of women in the field.

The list, which is arranged alphabetically rather than as a ranking, also includes another leading Gulf woman in the sector – Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, President of Sharjah Art Foundation.

Earlier this year, the website, which is a major reference tool used by those in the international art market, ranked Sheikha Al Mayassa as one of 25 Art World Women at the Top. At the time, the site said:

“By extending Qatar’s art collection and inviting international art players to Doha, she embodies Qatar’s cultural policy.”

Top titles

This ranking is the latest in a long line of accolades bestowed on Sheikha Al Mayassa, recognizing her leadership of QM and position in the global art world.

Sally Crane

Earlier this year, she was named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people and in 2012 the Economist dubbed her the art world’s most powerful woman.

During her 2012 debut on Forbes’ list of global power women, she was dubbed the “undisputed Queen of the art world,” and she regularly features in industry publications’ rankings of influential international players in the scene.

Since assuming the role of Chairperson of QM (formerly Qatar Museums Authority) in 2006, Sheikha Al Mayassa has rapidly developed and consolidated her position as one of the world’s biggest and most influential art buyers.

She has made no secret of her aim to make Qatar a regional hub for contemporary and modern art.

In a TED talk in 2010, she said:

“We are revising ourselves through our cultural institutions and cultural development. Art becomes a very important part of our national identity.”

Experts estimate her acquisition budget to be in the region of $1 billion a year, which she uses to buy up some of the world’s key pieces of contemporary art.

This includes apparently setting a world record by spending $250 million on Cezanne’s Card Players in 2011 – then, the highest-ever known price for a painting, and a reported $310m for 11 Rothkos, although this purchase remains unconfirmed.

Art agenda

QM has been spearheading a drive to bring a large volume of high-profile international art to Qatar in the last few years, both for the royal family’s private collection and for public display through the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) and Mathaf (Arab Museum of Modern Art), as well as a number of public art installations.


However, at times the exhibitions have proved controversial. Last October for example, some nationals expressed dismay at Adel Abdessemed‘s “Coup de Tête” – a now-infamous 5-meter statute of two fighting footballers that was erected on the Corniche.

Though it was meant to be a permanent installation, the statue was quickly removed after critics said it was “unsportsmanlike” and offensive to religious sensibilities.

At the time, QM said it would be transferred to Mathaf, although it has yet to be publicly displayed there.



Meanwhile, QM has been undergoing organizational change over the last few years.

Earlier this year, its acting CEO and Director Edward Dolman, who was brought in by Sheikha Al Mayassa in 2011, quit amid disquiet among the national community about how QM spends its budget and the number of expat staff working there.

Although Sheikha Al Mayassa supported Dolman in a memo sent to all staff, in April of this year Dolman announced that he would not be renewing his contract with QM and left to pursue other projects.

Following claims of “corruption and nepotism” in the Arab media, QM said it would transform from a government organization into a “private entity for public good,” but this has yet to happen.