Foundation Louis Vuitton commissioned Frank Gehry to create a dramatic space to house commissioned contemporary art, host temporary exhibitions, and stage small events. The building, located in the midst of the lovely Bois de Boulogne Park (see our Paris neighborhood post), is classic Frank Gehry. It is a huge, aluminum-clad dome covered with glass wings, fronted by a stepped waterfall that is fed by a wading pool complete with a spurting fountain and a machine for creating a layer of dense fog.
The Foundation’s Collection
Its art is highlighted by five permanent commissioned pieces. The most interesting one for us is the Olafur Eliasson light and space exhibit named grotto. It is a series of lit, bright yellow panels, followed by a series of mirrors, that line a corridor that runs alongside a stream formed by water flowing from a reflecting pool that collects water flowing from the stepped waterfall. Another commission, designed by Ellsworth Kelly, is less engaging: a stage curtain consisting of five monochromatic panels, plus a number of square monochromatic panels mounted on walls of the auditorium. We found it very underwhelming!
The visiting exhibits when we were there were relatively few. That was surprising considering the large space available to display them. Many of the rooms were closed. In most of the open rooms, the exhibits and the viewers were given plenty of room.
Many of the pieces were not quite to our taste. A long film clip with boring and repetitive music that could be heard through a number of galleries was very annoying. Another, a video exhibit caricaturing America’s fascination with guns, showed long, sustained gunfight sequences on screens on three sides of the room—with audios at high volume.
However, we did enjoy some of the exhibits:
- Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, much of whose work we enjoy (see our blog on a Basquiat exhibit);
- A series of Andy Warhol self-portraits, some as his usual, unusual self and others as a drag queen;
- A rooftop terrace exhibit of an artificial landscape with soil and plants, interspersed with some very unnatural items, including athletic shoes; and
- A number of audio art exhibits. We mostly enjoyed a room with eight or ten metronomes mounted on walls, each with slightly different timing. In front of each metronome was a beach chair where you can recline, watch your metronome, or just close your eyes and listen as the different timings sometimes randomly generated interesting combinations.
The Lobby’s Art
The lobby has two other interesting installations: one, a number of suspended pieces that resembled tuna, prowling above the restaurant for their next meal. The second, which while firmly in the entryway, was easily missed until you reached a viewing point from a higher floor. That, a large and pretty red rose atop a long green stem.