It’s about time I got to the Parisian posts from last November’s trip to Europe… The new museum designed by Frank Gehry and funded by the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris got a LOT of press when it opened late last year, just a few weeks before we got to Paris. It is a spectacular structure by any measure — striking, unusual and very modern. I am not an architect, but my simplified and perhaps slightly cynical view of the building is a bunch of concrete boxes (exhibition spaces) that are shielded by these giant sails of steel and glass. The museum rises from the gardens of the the Bois de Boulogne, just minutes by electric and therefore environmentally conscious shuttle bus from the Arc de Triomphe, near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
It’s always amazing what the results are of a collaboration of immense wealth, vision and creativity. In the past, folks with serious bucks built amazing palaces, stunning monuments, impressive edifices. Today, the money of many dotcom, app and tech billionaires seem to be used for much less showy (but still impressive) things, say preserving 200,000 hectares of Amazon forest, or eradicating diseases, distributing birth control, etc. Sure, they still have their toys, see parking problems here at the recent Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in Las Vegas (think $30 million per plane at 100 jets so that $3 billion or PHP135 billion in equipment in that photo alone), but I think less and less folks are building palatial homes like this one at Versailles, and don’t forget the gardens. Can you imagine locking up the windows every night? :)
But back to the Fondation Louis Vuitton. I thought the building was stunning. Utterly stunning. My kind of space. One of the first rooms you walk through on your visit are several scale models made of the building as it was being conceptualized, plus multi-media presentations of aerial views, etc. of the building.
From a practical point of view, I wonder how it would withstand gale force winds or a typhoon like Haiyan, but it was a pleasure to behold.
The art inside, however, was another story. We were totally underwhelmed. It was quite a disappointment given how fancy the wrapping was. But never mind, they should forget the art and just focus on the building. With works like this grey canvas on display, you inevitably had to say in your own mind… “hmmm, I could do that”…
Several Ellsworth Kelly’s and other modern pieces adorned the vast wall spaces, but it just didn’t seem like they had enough. It’s a youngish collection I gather, and perhaps over the next 50 years it will grow far more impressive, but it’s sort of like the cart came before the horse, though it is a stunningly beautiful thoroughbred horse. See a stunning night time photo of the building, here.
Maybe they spent so much on the building they couldn’t afford to buy any more art. I am kidding, of course. Then again, with a single Gauguin painting like this one recently fetching USD300million at auction, you’d think they would have to spend at least USD100 million for a room to display it in!
A view from the gardens.
Marketman in front of the Foundation LV entrance, which has that famous LV monogram logo, of course. A bit gaudy, as usual… did you see this article saying Vuitton bags are “for secretaries”? Bottom line, if the company used some of its profits for this spectacular architectural stunner, bravo for them!