Visite de la délégation de Leamington à la Fondation Louis Vuitton

2 avril 2016 (matin)
lundi 28 novembre 2016
par  Emmanuel HENNEQUIN
popularité : 37%

Article écrit par Mo Enright et traduit partiellement par Dominique Daugeras
(premier et dernier paragraphes)

The first sight of the Fondation Louis Vuitton Museum is a jaw dropping experience and has been justifiably hailed as « Paris’s most exciting new building in a generation ». The designer responsible for the magnificent feat of engineering is the Californian based architect Frank Gehry. However, this amazing « floating » glass house in the park would not have happened without the inspiration, enthusiasm and financial backing of Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of the LVMH. In 2001, Arnualt flew to New York to met Frank Gehry to discuss his plan for the « Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création » a not for profit project for promotion of art and culture, to be built on public land at the edge of the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a children’s play garden, in the Bois de Boulogne.

Le bâtiment conçu par Frank Gehry

Gehry presented his building plans for the Fondation Louis Vuitton in 2006 with an opening date of late 2009 to early 2010 at an estimated building cost of $127 million. The proposal was met with vigorous opposition from local residents and a group, known as the Coordination for the Protection of the Bois de Boulogne and its Surroundings. From the moment the city of Paris, who own the park, granted a building permit in 2007, a series of legal battles began. Construction began in 2008, albeit with several constraints. Yet another setback came when in January 2011 when the ’group’ won their case to revoke the permit and the project was halted. The whole NIMBY situation became so fraught that the only way forward was the use of a special law which was passed by the Assémblee Nationale, it declared that the Foundation was in the national interest and « a major work of art for the whole world ». Permission to proceed was granted and work resumed in April 2011.
When designing the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Gehry was mindful of the Palmarium that once occupied the site and of the fact that this project had to be a park building, hence lots of glass and airiness. Inspiration also came from the Le Corbusier’s pilgrimage chapel of Notre dame du Haut, Paxton’s Crystal Palace, London and Gehry’s earlier masterpiece the Bilbao Guggenheim and perhaps just a hint of the Sydney Opera House.

Built on the site of an old bowling alley the building appears to float like a giant glass sail boat on a lake created by a cascade of water flowing over a series of uniform shallow steps culminating at its moorings in a specially created basin. The theme of playfulness runs through much of Frank Gehry’s work and the Fondation Louis Vuitton museum is no exception. His drawings show that he delights in playing with and challenging gravity, producing a building that revels in rake angles giving an illusion of fragility or alternatively, looks as if it is just about to become airborne on the next great gust of wind. At a different angle one can imagine the breaking open of a huge chrysalis just before the beautiful butterfly emerges, or perhaps a giant Transformer toy just about to morph into a ginormous being and stride across the park. Whatever way we chose to describe this extraordinary building we will fail to do it justice as everyone gains from it in a different way. This thread of playfulness is something that Gehry extends to the public by encouraging artists and children to use the building in a playful and creative way.

Une oeuvre de la Fondation Louis Vuitton

The basic design of the building is a series of strategically placed irregular shaped boxes, coated with white fibre reinforced concrete, which form the interior space of the galleries. This can be clearly seen in the museum’s architectural models and referred to, by Gehry himself, as « the Icebergs ». Twelve enormous curved translucent panels made up of 3,600 laminated glass sections, each one a different shape and precision cut, screen the inner structure and form the building’s exterior. These curved glass panels take on the appearance of huge sails billowing in the wind and are brilliantly anchored to the core with wood, steel and concrete.
Entering the building’s cavernous open-plan ground floor lobby doesn’t fail to impress. Tucked away in one corner is a small but delightful restaurant, in which, large gold coloured sculptured lights in the shape of fish appear to be swimming around overhead giving the illusion that one is inside an aquarium. The fish image is a favourite of Gehry’s and one he has used many times in different guises throughout his work. Further to the restaurant, the ground floor boasts a state-of-the-art 350-seat auditorium, information desk and an excellent bookshop. There are 11 spacious galleries, and split-level roof terraces that are used for art installations and events and provide spectacular views of the Bois de Boulonge and of Paris.
There are acres of empty space giving one the impression that the curators have not yet fully understood how to handle the space. I dare say that will change as time goes on and when more artists take up Gehry’s invitation to "play with the building". One artist who has taken up the challenge is the French artist Daniel Buren who, as Gehry says, « wants to paint stripes all over the sails ». Buren’s exhibition, « Observatory of light », Work in situ, from 11 May 2016. Thirteen colours from the Primaries through the range of the colour spectrum have been chosen to cover the glass sails. Colour filters are punctuated by alternating white and blank stripes at equal distance from one another. With the aid of projectors, transparencies and reflections the changing light of day and season will create a different ambience both inside and outside of the building. Daniel Buren intends to show the building in a new light. An aeriel photograph of the Fondation Louis Vuitton shows a transformation from the ghostly white sails to Primary and Secondary coloured checked gingham illusory tablecloths billowing in the wind from LV’s washing-line.
The museum is a wonderful building and one has to applaud Gehry in offering his exciting building for « artist’s to play with ». Most Architects are very precious about their work and would find it quite difficult to afford such a generous opportunity to artists. I think of several other impressive buildings which sadly, not even a tiny banner is allow outside to advertise the event within lest it detracts from the grandeur of the building.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in several phases from Autumn 2014 to Spring 2015. The museum was officially opened to the public in October 2015. A selection of work from the collection belonging to the Fondation and from Bernard Arnault’s personal collection formed the basis for each exhibition during the opening stages. On completion, reportedly the cost of building was $143 million, however, the actual final budget is undisclosed. Built with LVMH money on public land with a 55 year lease the building, but not the collection, will pass into the hands of the governing body of Paris at the end of this period. Nevertheless, with the larger than life LV logo, sparkling in the sunshine, in a position of prominence on the front of the building one is left in no doubt as to who spearheaded this venture.

Une partie de la délégation anglaise
(La rédactrice, Mo Enright, est la troisième personne en partant de la gauche)

Dès le premier coup d’œil , la Fondation Louis Vuitton présente un aspect saisissant, et l’on comprend pourquoi on a pu dire à son sujet que « de toutes les nouvelles constructions parisiennes depuis 30 ans elle est la plus extraordinaire ». Ce magnifique chef d’œuvre d’architecture et d’ingénierie a été conçu par Frank Gehry, architecte établi en Californie. Cependant, cette étonnante structure de verre flottant dans la verdure doit son existence à l’inspiration, l’enthousiasme et le soutien financier de Bernard Arnault, PDG de LVMH. Arnault se rendit à New York en 2001 pour rencontrer Frank Gehry et discuter avec lui de son projet d’une « Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création », entreprise d’intérêt général en faveur de l’art et de la culture, qui serait construite sur un terrain public situé en bordure du Jardin d’ Acclimatation, parc d’attractions pour enfants situé au bois de Boulogne.
La Fondation Louis Vuitton a été ouverte en plusieurs phases entre l’automne 2014 et le printemps 2015. Le musée fut officiellement ouvert au public en octobre 2015. La Fondation et les collections personnelles de Bernard Arnault ont fourni le fonds de chaque exposition au cours des différentes étapes de l’ouverture. Le coût total de la construction s’est monté à 143 millions d’euros, mais le budget final réel n’en a pas été révélé. Le bâtiment, qui est financé par LVMH, est installé sur un terrain public donné à bail pour 55 ans, mais non les collections : il reviendra à la municipalité de Paris à la fin de cette période. Néanmoins, avec son gigantesque logo Louis Vuitton brillant au soleil et apparaissant de façon proéminente sur la façade, nul ne peut ignorer qui a mené cette entreprise à bien.