By Javier Melian, co-founder of www.chrom-art.org
Last November I visited the just opened Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry. This $143 million museum in the French capital is adjacent to the Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne of the 16th arrondissement.
The queue was humongous but my friend who works in a well known international gallery worked his charm with security and they let us jump ahead of a very unimpressed crowd that had been waiting hours to get in. I felt embarrassed but anyhow, being in the business has to have it perks plus I only had an hour to go round before rushing to get the Eurostar back to London.
Outside and inside the building is just spectacular. The glass armour and the absence of straight lines or regular surfaces makes you feel like you’ve been swallowed by a giant whale. The contours twirl and twist around themselves as mechanical serpentines. It is just beautiful.
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The building is inspired on the Grand Palais and other famous parisian glass structures.The two-story structure has 11 galleries of different sizes, a voluminous 350-seat auditorium on the
lower-ground floor and multilevel roof terraces for events and art installations. Gehry had to build within the square footage and two-story volume of a bowling alley that previously stood on the
site; anything higher had to be glass. The resulting glass building takes the form of a sailboat sails inflated by the wind. These sails glass envelop the "iceberg", a series of shapes with white
In 2012, construction of the building reached a milestone with the installation of glass sails. These sails are made of 3,584 laminated glass panels, each unique and specifically curved to fit the shapes drawn by the architect.
The museum's collection, believed to be a combination of works owned by LVMH and Bernard Arnault, will be unveiled in three stages between October 2014 and September 2015. Highlights of the LVMH collection includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gilbert & George and Jeff Koons. For site-specific installations, the foundation commissioned works by Ellsworth Kelly, Olafur Eliasson, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller (starring Scott Tixier and Tony Tixier), Sarah Morris, Taryn Simon, Cerith Wyn Evans and Adrián Villar Rojas.
Kelly made a curtain, Spectrum VIII (2014), consisting of 12 coloured strips, for the building’s auditorium. Villar Rojas created a water tank containing found objects, discarded sneakers and plants, installed under one of the 12 glass “sails” that provide the Fondation’s signature, swerving shape.
My personal favourite has to be Eliasson’s creation Inside the Horizon (2014), made up of 43 prism-shaped yellow columns that are illuminated from the inside and placed along a walkway.
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Playing with light and its coloured variations, geometric forms and reflective surfaces, Olafur Eliasson’s monumental installation offers the viewer new sensory and perceptual experiences. Like a
giant kaleidoscope along the passageway, which follows the length of a reflecting pool, it feels like you are inside of a ray of sunshine.
A key piece to visit is the installation is by Taryn Simon. Anthropological in character, this commission uncovers the memory of the construction site of Frank Gehry’s building through those who took part in its making. Since 2013 the artist interviewed various tradesmen and collected objects, which reveal the invisible traces of the protagonists’ work, and the richness of the personal histories involved in this exceptional adventure.
Other works that caught my imagination were Gerhard Richter’s paintings, Bertrand Lavier’s neon lights and Christian Boltanski highly impacting triple video projections.
I wished I had more time to enjoy this visionary monument to human creativity. Still plenty of empty space inside that will be filled soon with the rest of the LMVH collection, hence looking forward to more visits to the City of Lights.