I was recently at the Louis Vuitton Foundation where a new exhibit has been set up showing 130 works of art once collected by Russian Visionary Sergei Shchukin and placed in his palace where they covered the walls. He was a Russian textile merchant and his paintings were considered one of the finest collections of modern art in the world. He amassed over 250 works of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in his lifetime. The exhibit is mostly impressionists on display along with a few others such as Picasso (34 of his works) and Cezanne who did not consider himself one, so you can see Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and more. He was an acquaintance of Matisse who introduced him to Picasso about whom Shchukin said he did not understand and is quoted as saying, “I’m sure he is right, and not me”. Matisse was also brought to Shchukin’s palace in Moscow to help decorate it in 1911. During Stalin’s reign and the Russian Revolution his art work was seized and placed in three museums (he and his family ended up in France) and this is the first time the paintings have left Russia in 100 years. As you might imagine, there was a huge insurance premium and although the Orsay Museum would probably make more sense for these paintings, the Louis Vuitton Foundation was the only museum who could afford to pay it. They hired their own guards too.
Here’s a look at the museum as you approach, designed by Gehry, an American. It usually is plain glass but the coloured panels are a temporary art exhibit by Daniel Buren who also did the black and white striped columns at Palais Royal. It looks like Noah’s Ark to me in shape. A quote on Gehry’s building: “Your first instinct, when you see an extraordinary new building that looks like nothing you have ever seen before, is to try to understand it by connecting it to what you know. And so Frank Gehry’s new Fondation Louis Vuitton, in Paris, looks like sails, and it looks like a boat, and it looks like a whale, and it looks like a crystal palace that is in the middle of an explosion.” Some said it looked like a space ship. When you bring an engineer or an architect to see it, they are amazed at the construction. It is incredible to go to the top level and see how the glass panels are held up or to the side.
The side of the building. The building is on the edge of the Bois du Boulogne, an enormous forest near the Champs Elysees. It is next to the children’s garden. This location kept the powers that be in Paris from interfering too much in the design. the colored squares and rectangles by Buren can be seen close up. Buren is known best for using regular, contrasting colored stripes as you can see here. He used twelve hues of colors.
I loved the set up of the museum with these arches in one room and the dark gray paint. The rooms were very roomy, not small and cramped like some museums and even with large numbers of people roaming around, it was easy to look at the paintings.
I can’t remember the artist for this painting. I just liked the view of la Madeleine and a look at the horse drawn cabs in the street. Also notice that black smoke billowing in the distance. I’ve read that in this age of coal burning energy sources, women often wore coats over their dressing to protect them from coal dust in the air. I imagine it wasn’t good for your lungs either.
If you come to Paris and want to see this exhibit, be sure and order your tickets online and print them out as the line to buy them in person can be up to an hour long.