Hardly anything could stop me from dragging everyone (even our delightful friends Martin and Mette from Denmark) on the “trek” to visit Foundation Louis Vuitton. I didn’t know who designed it, but I knew that a huge amount was invested into this landmark. Of course, it turned out to be another Frank Gehry, which despite my eyes rolling as I type, cannot be denied to create pieces of work that are unforgettable.
Looking back at these exterior photos, my mind recalls imagery of sails (Gehry is a sailing guy so that makes sense, even if not intentional). It also recalls how freaking hot it was on this trip- the next day even hotter- and it is a bit of a walk from the metro to the building which is nested inside of Bois de Boulogne. (Afterward we headed to Montmartre and had a great meal at Chez Eugène.) It honestly seems like an alien ship landed in the middle of this park, one that could lift up and take flight at any point.
But seriously, I was excited to visit. Its an enormous complex and what I appreciated the most about it was the size of the gallery spaces (I’ll get to the commissions later, a phenomenon in and of itself) and the upper level outdoor park level.
This building excels beyond the Disney Concert Hall as it’s basically that building, but with floating panels suspended from it. The nice thing about the “sails” is that it provides coverage for the outdoor garden areas, which is something the Concert Hall lacks. I do appreciate this garden concept- finding some greenery inside a building is always a joy.
The height on the buildings allowed for some spectacular views from the upper floors, which I think we would have missed without my son’s determination to get to the top. As a fan of La Défense it was a personal joy to be able to spot it from afar. My son being almost obsessed with the Eiffel Tower, he was really excited to be able to spot it on our first day in Paris.
Getting to the top of the Foundation was no joke because it really confusing to get around. I still don’t quite understand how we got from one section to another and we were especially perplexed trying to get to the outdoor Eliasson commission with it’s walkways across the water. While this type of navigation does enable a wandering type of experience, I find that some parts of the building may be missed simply because finding access to them is such an enigma.
Beyond the building, which is a slam dunk all being said, I have to say the commissions exceeds expectations even further. I’m grateful that my sun was so eager to access this lower terrace area- Inside the Horizon by Olafur Eliasson. This work melds so well with the building and like the building, encourages exploration in a non-prescriptive format. Its certainly selfie-bait, but in this case, I’ll let it pass. A consistent theme in my appreciate for this building is the ample space provided for the work- the size of the internal spaces really helps to due justice to these art pieces.
Another amazing commission is the auditorium which houses works by Ellsworth Kelly. I’m neither here nor there about this artist, but I think what Gehry and the Foundation excelled at was finding the right work for the right space. And this was a perfect spot to bring the best out of this art work.
But my favorite room and art work of all the Foundation is the commission by Katharina Grosse. The color applied in seemingly inhuman size sweeps across a multi story space is all encompassing. What I liked was the application to the floor as well, which is quite uncommon. The hilarious part was that while you could walk on the art, you weren’t allowed to touch the walls.
I would have to say that amongst the giants in Paris- the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, etc. – the Foundation Louis Vuitton aimed and achieved being a destination worth adding to that list. I would encourage any art lover, and of course any architecture fan, to visit this space- no matter how much the effort.
Address: 8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi, 75016 Paris, France
Website: Foundation write up