Culture – Fondation Louis Vuitton Becomes Paris’s Latest Artistic Landmark

A dozen years and over $100 million later, the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris is propelling the city’s architecture into the twenty-first century. The Frank Gehry-designed centre, a passion project for LVMH luxury titan Bernard Arnault, opens on October 27.

The foundation’s mission will to be “to encourage and promote contemporary artistic creation,” according to a press release, and will focus on 20th- and 21st-century artistic movements, housing the corporate art collection of LVMH as well as temporary exhibitions and artist commissions in 11 different galleries.

Located on the northern end of the Bois de Boulogne, Gehry’s glass building takes the form of inflated sailboat sails, made out of 3600 uniquely curved glass panels. The sails envelop the “iceberg”, a series of shapes with white flowery terraces. It’s difficult not to gasp in astonishment over the soaring structure of huge swirling planes of glass, hanging like mist amid the trees of one of Paris’s largest parks.
One journalist who’s already visited, goes as far as saying that this is what it must have been like to walk to the top of a sand dune in Giza around two and half millennia before the birth of Christ; to have seen the Colosseum rise above ancient Rome; or, for that matter, to have witnessed Monsieur Eiffel’s eponymous experiment in ironmongery climbing rivet by rivet towards the sky.

But this building is not a pyramid, nor an amphitheater, nor even a tower. Instead it seems to revel in defying characterization, which probably accounts for it having been described variously as a ship, a cloud and an iceberg dressed in a cloud. According to Frank Gehry, its white-haired, impish, architect, it is all three. “The iceberg is the white stuff inside, the cloud is the glass, and the glass looks like sails,” he says.

Could it be that in blurring the lines between museum, shop and home, enigmatic luxury mogul Bernard Arnault has actually out-Warholed Andy Warhol?
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