visiting the fondation louis vuitton (flv) was a highlight of our recent visit to paris. the private contemporary art museum was created at the initiative of bernard arnault, the chairman and chief executive officer of luxury business group moët hennessy louis vuitton (LVMH), for his personal and corporate art collections. the museum is located in the jardin d’acclimation, an amusement park in the bois de boulogne, which was converted from a royal hunting ground into a public park in 1860.
arnault collaborated with american architect, frank o. gehry, who also designed the guggenheim museum in bilbao, spain and the walt disney concert hall in los angeles, CA, to design a museum that epitomized the corporate image of LVMH as a patron of the arts, culture, and heritage.
the architecture of the museum was inspired by 19th century glasshouses, such as le palmarium that was built in the jardin d’acclimation in 1893, and demolished in 1934.
‘the idea of using glass…was essential in making the fondation a true bois de boulogne building, in the spirit of a children’s park.’ -frank o. gehry
frank o. gehry | sketch of the fondation louis vuitton building preceding the initial architectural models | april 2006
gehry partners, llp | architectural model | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france
architectural digest (ad) magazine compared gehry’s architectural masterpiece to one of the masterpieces of hellenistic sculpture.
‘the structure alights in the park with the delicacy of the ‘winged victory’ perched at the head of the daru staircase in the louvre.‘ -mayer rus, architectural digest
the winged victory of samothrace | parian marble and gray lartos marble | samothrace, greece | circa 190 BC
louvre museum | paris, france
the current chinese contemporary art exhibition at the fondation louis vuitton, bentu: chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation, even includes a replica of the winged victory of samothrace.
xu zhen | eternity-tianlongshan grottoes bodhisattva, winged victory of samothrace | fiberglass, steel, cement | 2013
a replica of the winged victory of samothrace balanced on top of a buddha from the tianlongshan grottoes (21 buddhist cave temples from the eastern wei-tang dynasties (534-907), located in shanxi province, china)
bentu: chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france | 27 january-2 may 2016
along with a sculpture by ai weiwei, who reportedly visited the fondation louis vuitton while he was in paris for the installation and opening of er xi: air de jeux (child’s play or playground), his recent exhibition at le bon marché department store, which is also owned by by LVMH.
click here to read my previous post about ai weiwei @ le bon marché.
ai weiwei | tree | fragments of dead wood | 2010
in the background: huang yong ping | fifty buddha arms | metal, terra cotta, resin, various objects | 1997-2013
the structure of the museum is actually a building within a building. the ‘iceberg’, the interior core of 11 irregularly shaped art galleries, is clad in 19,000 panels of white fiber-reinforced concrete. a network of steel trusses and wood beams support the verrière (canopy), the exterior shell of twelve sails constructed from 3600 glass panels.
the ‘iceberg’ and the verrière (canopy) | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france
you can see the structure of the canopy more closely from the west, east, central, and high terraces, which are accessible from the second, third, and forth floors of the museum.
verrière (canopy) | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france
the panoramic views of paris from the rooftop terraces are spectacular!
to the west, la défense, one of the major business districts in paris.
views of la défense from the fondation louis vuitton | paris, france
in the background: la défense | under construction in the foreground: the location for the louis vuitton women’s autumn/winter 2016 fashion show
and, to the east, the eiffel tower.
view of the eiffel tower from the fondation louis vuitton | paris, france
the building is brilliantly sited not only to capture the views, but also to comply with local zoning ordinances. to comply with height restrictions, the site was excavated so that the lower ground floor of the museum could be built below grade. the fondation louis vuitton commissioned inside the horizon, a site specific installation, from danish-icelandish artist olafur eliasson for the grotto behind the underground reflecting pool.
olafur eliasson | inside the horizon | stainless steel, aluminum, LED light system, colored glass, mirror, sound | 2014
the terraced waterfall flows into the subterranean reflecting pool.
the terraced waterfall | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france