Frank Gehry is designing a new art center in Paris for luxury goods company Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. The $127 million project, to be called the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, will be located in the Bois de Boulogne, a large park just to the west of the city.
The foundation will “open a dialogue with wider audiences,” says company chairman Bernard Arnault, who initiated the project. LVMH already has an art gallery on the top floor of its new store on the Champs Elysées, and has hosted exhibitions at Paris’s Pompidou Center, Palais de Tokyo, and Grand Palais. The building is scheduled to open in late 2009 or early 2010. Sixty-five thousand square feet of exhibition space will contain modern and contemporary art, as well as original commissions produced specifically for the space. These items will likely be themed around LVMH products and symbols. The center will also contain spaces for research, documentation, and teaching.
The building will take shape on the site of a former bowling alley next to the Bois de Boulogne’s Jardin d’Acclimation, a large children’s park. A model of the project was revealed at a press conference early last week. It showed an asymmetrical, hunched-over structure with a solid core and jaggedly cut glass skin. The materials making up this core have not yet been determined, says LVMH spokesperson Jun Fujiwara. The company’s press release describes the building as “a vessel within the trees” that is completely open to its environment.
Suzanne Pagé, formerly director of the Musée d’Art Moderne of the City of Paris, will be the foundation’s artistic director.
This will be Gehry’s second building in Paris. In 1994, he designed the American Center in Bercy, on the other side of the city. That curvaceous building was recently converted into the Cinematheque Francaise, a film museum and library.
LVMH’s museum plans are anomalous for Paris, where public museums are still the norm. Other private contemporary art museums include the Cartier Foundation, designed by Jean Nouvel, and the Maison Rouge, located near the Bastille and founded by art collector Antoine de Galbert. Arnault’s rival Francois Pinault, founder of luxury brand Pinault-Printemps-Redoute and owner of Christie’s auction house, recently scrapped plans to build a contemporary art museum on the Ile Seguin in nearby Boulogne-Billancourt. Citing bureaucratic delays, he moved his museum to the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.