EMILE GUIMET’S bequest of the Asian treasures he had bought on a round-the-world tour in the 1870s fuelled the French craze for Asian antiquities and helped put the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques on a par with the British Museum and the Baur Collection in Geneva.
This summer the French collection has added a twist. Amid a huge show that ranges over eight centuries of Ghandara statues devoted to depicting the face of Buddha, are scattered the works of a playful and eagerly collected young Pakistani photographer, Rashid Rana.
Using computer software to mix his images, Mr Rana creates works that are both ironic and disturbing. A giant box (pictured) that seems from a distance to depict a city skyline is actually made up, when you get close, of hundreds of small photographs of houses in Lahore, a teeming mosaic of urbanity that includes shops, traffic and dusty street corners. Similarly the postage-stamp squares of scenes from a slaughterhouse—pale carcasses, spilled blood and amputated limbs—when you step back, are arranged to depict, in all its richness and comfort, a red oriental carpet. A show to look at over and over.