Paris's most exciting new building in a generation "I like to think of it as a sail boat, or even a regatta in the park says Frank Gehry.
It might also be a giant fish from the pages of some surreal fairy tale or a cloud made by a carpenter. However you think of it, the Fondation Louis Vuitton moored on the banks of the Jardin d a children play garden, in the Bois de Boulogne is the most exciting and delightful new Parisian building in a generation. Opening on Monday, this captivating centre for contemporary art represents the evergreen 85 year old Gehry doing one of the things he does best: shaping a youthful building for the arts that challenges and stimulates our perception of what an art gallery should be while play fighting with the artists whose works are on show inside. The Canadian born Californian architect set his own precedent in the late 1990s with the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, an eye popping urban sculpture down by the city docks sheathed in shimmering folds of titanium. For the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Gehry has fashioned an outer membrane of twelve great curved sails in timber, steel and glass. Below and behind them are eleven galleries clad in white fibre reinforced concrete tiles forming what the architect calls an was thinking partly of Paxton Crystal Palace in London, partly of the Grand Palais in Paris he tells me. I was thinking of movement and light, of a building that would change through the day with light and weather. Since the project began in 2001, when Gehry met Bernard Arnault CEO of LVMH, the Parisian luxury goods conglomerate the aim has also been to celebrate and stimulate the arts in France. On one of the walls inside the Fondation Gehry is quoted in his own handwriting: dream of designing a magnificent vessel for Paris that symbolises France profound cultural vocation. Next week, France will return the compliment when President Hollande decorates the Fondation architect with the insignia of Commandeur of the Legion d The billowing building appears to sail through the venerable oaks and beeches of the Bois de Boulogne with the greatest of ease. For louis vuitton authentication check all its flamboyance, it feels as though it belongs here, and a site previously occupied by a concrete bowling alley. Dug down, its maximum height is a relatively modest 43 metres, so only fleeting glimpses of its topsails are visible above the high tree line. From a distance, the Fondation is remarkably discreet: close up, it is all architectural adventure. The Jardin d founded in 1860 by Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, was a favourite haunt of Marcel Proust. Originally a zoo and garden for species drawn from around the Empire where these were between 1877 and 1912 it served as a live anthropological museum where Parisians gawped at Bushmen, Zulus, Hottentots, dwarves and other homo exotiques. Now a wholly innocent children garden, and newly restored, it is a happy foil to Gehry playful building. The hope of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, which has a 55 year lease on the site from the City of Paris, is that its latest and boldest cultural louis vuitton neverfull ikat adventure will introduce future generations to art. Cleverly informal, the building proves to be a welcoming architectural promenade from its high, bright lobby through and around the galleries and up onto its rooftop play of public terraces offering studiously framed and captivating views of Paris here the Eiffel Tower in apparent splendid isolation, there La Defence looking uncharacteristically picturesque under those laminated timber and curved glass sails. The building seems so very alive. been trying to find a language for architecture that makes sense of movement in an era louis vuitton speedy 30 authentication that all about movement, says Gehry. something I always dealt with, a replacement for decoration, too, I guess. With movement comes a sense of involvement. Gehry first came to Paris at the beginning of the Sixties after graduating from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he met some French architects. took up an invitation to come over. Sailed with my wife and two kids. I worked for architects in Paris, and on weekends got to see Corbu [Le Corbusier buildings. Ronchamp remains an inspiration, he says, referring to Le Corbusier shell like pilgrimage chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, consecrated in 1955, what I really got into was the Romanesque. Romanesque is a noble style of 12th Century architecture characterised by its bulk, weight and regular composition and epitomised for Gehry by the cathedral at Autun. It is, you would have thought, as far removed from the Bilbao Guggenheim or the new Fondation Louis Vuitton as artistically possible. Romanesque is not iddy biddy, tweety pie says Gehry, what blew me away about Autun was the sculpture. In all that amazing, muscular architecture, I was drawn to the sculptures by Gislebertus. I saw movement and grace, and have wanted to capture and express this ever since. Inside the horizon, Olafur Eliasson's installation for the Fondation Louis Vuitton PICTURE Iwan Baan We talk about the ways in which Gehry has responded also to the flow and movement in Renaissance sculpture principally Bernini and Michelangelo in the forms of such dramatically modern buildings as Beekman Tower, Gehry first Manhattan skyscraper completed three years ago, before turning the conversation to fish and ships. In Paris, the Fondation rises from a lake, or water garden, fed in part by rainwater piped down from the building sails. At one end there is a stepped waterfall that, glistening in sunlight, plays musically on the ears. From this same vantage point, the building appears to be tacking into the urban wind. a Piscean says Gehry with a smile. water spirit. When I was a kid [in Canada], I used to swim ten miles in the lake. Ten miles? It nice to be young. I still swim and sail. Did I tell you I designing a sailboat? I like the water, I like the flow. Fish, too. From some angles, the Fondation, so much like a ship appears to morph into a giant fish, its lower sails forming fins, scales and gills in the imagination. The Fondation Louis Vuitton will surely captivate its public. Inside, visitors can walk straight into the galleries. These are happily varied, one crowned with a Le Corbusier like light funnel animating the building roofscape, yet all featuring long sections of straight walls to hang paintings and drawings. A restaurant, signed by a sculpted fish, leads off the lobby as does a 350 seat auditorium for concerts, films and lectures; by day, its great windows look on to the waterfall and tree line. And, then, up a writhing stair lifts, too visitors reach the roof terraces. Here it is clear that, like an 18th Century ship of the line, louis vuitton shoes outlet store the area of the sails some in milky glass, others in clear glass is greater than that of the floor area of the building. It all seems so very generous and liberating. Up here, too, you can see how Gehry and his Franco American team of architects and engineers have chosen to express every last detail of the building, just like a fully rigged ship. Drainpipes and electricity ducts, bolts and sections of laminated timber have been treated with the same care as the sails, and internal finishes. Despite its complex, flyaway form, the Fondation is all of a piece. Across the city, the very first comprehensive retrospective of Gehry work is newly on show on the ground floor of the Pompidou Centre. Gehry doesn like to look backwards. One of its curators, Aurelien Lemonier, walks me around this unpretentious exhibition sixty seven eventful architectural models and 225 drawings, explaining convincingly how, for all his architecture adventure and play, Gehry is an urbanist, a singular architect with a mission to reinvent run down or abandoned city quarters, which is why he pushed hard for the Bilbao Guggenheim to be down in the docks, cheek by concrete jowl with an elevated motorway rather than in some graceful plaza. We look, too, at drawings made as early as 1961 when Gehry was already experimenting with urban plans. The Jardin d is not exactly dockside Bilbao, much less abandoned downtown Detroit, yet it has come back to fresh life now that Gehry has sailed this way and, in doing so, has tried to surprise himself, as well as you and me, with new twists and turns in his inventive repertory. helps you to push yourself forward, to avoid repeating yourself.
Sure, we have a signature you can escape yourself but I not a rear window guy. I like to look forward, to take risks. Sailing on regardless, I suggest? splashing says Gehry, sometimes against and sometimes, as in Paris, along with a very favourable tide.
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