On October 20th, 2014, the long awaited Louis Vuitton Foundation was inaugurated, at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The Louis Vuitton company Foundation, created in 2006, works to promote art and culture through large scale sponsorships (engaged by the Louis Vuitton company in 1990). Today, it is one of the largest and most important actors of art sponsorship in France.
The project to build a structure devoted to the foundation was born in 2001. Bernard Arnault, the president of the foundation declared : « We had to build a foundation in which part of the sponsorship could crystallize itself. A new space that would open the dialogue with a wide public, and offer artists and intellectuals a platform of debates and reflexion ».
After years of elaborating the project (conducted by famous architect Frank Gehry) and constructing, the building finally opened its doors to the public in the fall of 2014.
So, do you need to add this stop to your journey in the capital ? Let's take a look at what the Louis Vuitton foundation has to offer...
An exceptional place
President of the Louis Vuitton Foundation Bernard Arnault declared « We wanted to provide Paris with an exceptional place for art and culture, and chosen the path of boldness and emotion by entrusting Frank Gehry with the implementation of a building that would be emblematic of the XXIst Century. »*
So the construction of this exceptional place was led by famous architect Frank Gehry, awarded with the prestigious Pritzker prize in 1989. You may know of him through some of his most beautiful and famous achievements such as the Guggenheim museum of Bilbao, or the New York Tower by Gehry.
« Very much like the everchanging world, we wanted to conceive a building that would evolve according to the light and time of day, creating an impression of continual change and ephemera. »*, the architect declared. He followed through for years with this project that started in 2001 with a single draft on a sheet of paper, and said he wanted to « build in Paris a magnificent ship that symbolizes the cultural vocation of France. »*
To create this building, Frank Gehry took inspiration in the naval language, putting together a foundation that looks like a tremendous sailboat, floating on Bois de Boulogne. The Louis Vuitton foundation is made of no less than 12 gigantic sails of glass and almost 20 000 white concrete slabs that cover the 11 galleries that occupy the 7 000 square meters of the building. Pushing the limits of technology, the edifice of a thousand gleams has already made its name as one of the major architectural pieces of the XXIst Century.
What to see at the Louis Vuitton foundation ?
The Louis Vuitton foundation has no less than 11 galleries, that host an impressive collection of contemporary art. The key word being variety, the foundation broadcasts very different styles and medias (painting, sculpture, photography, film, large and small scale installations...) by artists from various backgrounds such as Akram Zaatari, Ed Atkins, Tacita Dean, Alberto Giacometti, Isa Genzken, Bas Jan Ader, Maurizio Cattelan, Nam June Paik, Annette Messager, and many others... A true treasure mine for contemporary art lovers, that will ravish diverse sensitivities and tastes.
Frank Gehry (until March 16th, 2015) : since the opening of the foundation, this exhibition dedicated to the work of its architect, Frank Gehry, retraces the genesis of the edifice and its construction, that was sometimes choppy but always ambitious.
Olafur Eliasson – Contact (until February 23rd,2015) : this exhibition, specially made for the Louis Vuitton foundation, is built like a path, a journey through the installations of artist Olafur Eliasson. He wanted to explorate the relationship between Man, his boy and his environment through a search on light, reflections and optic, following his guideline : the horizon and its fragility.
How to go from Hotel du Danube ?
Address of the Louis Vuitton foundation :
8, Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116, Paris
(In the Jardin d'acclimatation in Bois de Boulogne)
By metro (about 45 minutes) :
First, go to Saint-Germain des Prés metro station (take a left when you leave the hotel, then second on the right until you get to the Saint-Germain des Prés church, the metro is just behind it). Take metro line 4 in the direction of Porte de Clignancourt. At Châtelet, change for metro line 1 in the direction of La Défense. Get off at Les Sablons station. When you get out, take Boulevard des Sablons towards the Bois de Boulogne. At the first roundabout, take Avenue Mahatma Gandhi on the right. The Louis Vuitton foundation will be on your right, at number 8.
* Quotes from the website of the Louis Vuitton Foundation : http://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/