Paris, the city of light, shines even brighter since yet another architectural masterpiece by Frank Gehry opened its doors in the Bois de Boulogne: the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Like so many of Mr. Gehry’s buildings such as the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, it is a unique work of art; “an iconic building for the 21st century”.
Following in the footsteps of individuals, corporations are now getting on the private museum bandwagon as their vast art collections cry out to be properly housed and displayed. Such was the case when Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey) approached Mr. Gehry to design a spectacular edifice to promote artistic creation and provide space for LVMH’s and Mr. Arnaud’s contemporary art collections.
Mr. Gehry’s design is a breathtaking, $143-million, 126,000 sq. ft, 2.5 storey, glass- and steel-clad, boat-like structure with gigantic glass and steel “sails” that contain 3,600 panes of glass supported by wooden beams. The “sails” give the Foundation its transparency and sense of movement and allow the building to reflect its surrounding water, woods and gardens while continually changing its appearance according to the time of day. White concrete blocks nicknamed “the icebergs”, clad in 19,000 fiber-reinforced concrete panels, constitute the central core of the Foundation in which its galleries are located. There are 11 indoor galleries of various sizes for the Foundation’s works of art and a 350-seat auditorium for special events and concerts. Multi-level roof terraces provide unforgettable panoramas of Paris and frame some of the Foundation’s commissioned art installations.
Outdoor and indoor water elements encompass the building that seemingly floats on the water garden at its centre; a waterfall and fountain grace the indoors.
The permanent art collection covers pop art, expressionism, and music, including works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christian Boltanski, Damien Hirst, Yves Klein, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol.
Among the internationally renowned artists commissioned to create site-specific works for the Foundation are Janet Cardiff, Olaf Eliasson, Elsworth Kelly, George Bures Miller, Sarah Morris, Adrian Villár Rojas, and Taryn Simon.
Without question, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is a Parisian highlight not to be missed.