The Louis Vuitton Foundation opened in 2014 and I’ve been meaning to go there for the last five years!
It is located next to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, the park on the west side of Paris and I finally visited a few weeks ago, on a blazing hot Sunday. I was tempted by the Impressionist exhibition of the Courtauld Collection, but there was so much more to see.
So much that I will be writing three articles about my visit. Here in Part 1, I will tell you about the architecture.
This incredible creation is one of the iconic works of 21st-century architecture.
Above, Frank Gehry (left) and Bernard Arnault outside the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris | Image: Richard Grassie.
Excerpt from the FLV website:
“From an initial sketch drawn on a blank page in a notebook to the transparent cloud sitting at the edge of the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry constantly sought to “design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolising the cultural calling of France”.
A creator of dreams, he has designed a unique, emblematic and bold building.
Respectful of a history rooted in French culture of the 19th century, Frank Gehry dared to use technological achievements of the 21st century, opening the way for pioneering innovation.
We wanted to present Paris with an extraordinary space for art and culture, and demonstrate daring and emotion by entrusting Frank Gehry with the construction of an iconic building for the 21st century.
Frank Gehry’s architecture combines a traditional “art de vivre”, visionary daring and the innovation offered by modern technology.
From the invention of glass curved to the nearest millimetre for the 3,600 panels that form the Fondation’s twelve sails, to the 19,000 panels of Ductal (fibre-reinforced concrete), each one unique, that give the iceberg its immaculate whiteness, and not forgetting a totally new design process, each stage of construction pushed back the boundaries of conventional architecture to create a unique building that is the realisation of a dream.
To reflect our constantly changing world, we wanted to create a building that would evolve according to the time and the light in order to give the impression of something ephemeral and continually changing.
To produce his first sketches, Frank Gehry took his inspiration from the lightness of late 19th-century glass and garden architecture. The architect then produced numerous models in wood, plastic and aluminium, playing with the lines and shapes, investing his future building with a certain sense of movement. The choice of materials became self-evident: an envelope of glass would cover the body of the building, an assembly of blocks referred to as the “iceberg”, and would give it its volume and its vitality.
In order to conform to Frank Gehry’s design, the men involved in the construction work found solutions to numerous unprecedented technical challenges, from the initial conception of the project right through to its finishing touches.
In particular, the manufacture of glass was an opportunity to rethink the know-how. A special furnace was created to meet the requirements for curves and projections imposed by the designer.
The building stands in a basin of flowing water and fits easily into the natural environment, between the woods and garden, while at the same time playing with light and mirror effects.”
The pool area is a favourite spot with visitors for photographing the water, the architecture and taking selfies. So, at the end of my visit I sought out the cool breezy pool and observed my fellow visitors. It can be reached by going downstairs from the entrance area, through the Auditorium. I love to photograph people in museums.
I find the juxtaposition of ordinary life, ordinary people, with works of art and their reactions around art, endlessly fascinating.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to the Louis Vuitton Foundation.
The next article, in a couple of weeks, will be about the Impressionist exhibition of the Courtauld Collection and then a third article about an exhibit of Contemporary Painting.
Thank you for visiting.