Sunday, 30 October 2016

Focus | The Louis Vuitton Foundation

Probably the only Vuitton you'll ever catch me in. And thank goodness they haven't decided to monogram it! 

Inauguration date

Frank Gehry (think the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or the EMP Museum etc etc). 

the Sidney Opera House and glass-metal framework of the Grand Palais/ it's meant to look like a ship sailing through the park with an emphasis on volumes, negative space and movement/ the peaks of the "sails" create what's called the "iceberg" which is a series of asymmetrical terraces with gardens/ the driving principle was this complete opposition between the outside and the way the interior is arranged/

Construction phase
400 / number of people who contributed with design plans, engineering rules, and construction constraints to a shared Web-hosted 3D digital model
 3,600 / number of glass panels 
19,000 / number of concrete panels that form the façade 
? / number of industrial robots who moulded said panels

View over La Defense business district

Part of the France-Russian 2016-2017 cultural and tourism programme, the LV Foundation is hosting the biggest retrospective on one of art history's most fervent 20th century art patron, Sergei Shchukin. He is considered a visionary for having endorsed such controversial artists like Matisse and Picasso for example but his contribution to art and its development is often overlooked, especially in the occident. Anne Baldassari, curator of the exhibition, said that 'since it was broken up in 1948 it has never been gathered as a singular and coherent artistic entity'.

Sergei Shchukin was a Russian businessman and an art collector, mainly of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. He was born in Moscow into a wealthy new-generation family of merchants. His father's company, I.V. Shchukin and Sons, became one of the largest manufacturing and wholesale companies in Russia.

It seems like collecting art ran in his family as Sergei's brother built an important collection of Russian ancient art and artefacts and owned several impressionist masterpieces, while his other brother Dimitri assembled "Moscow's best collection of Old Masters" that eventually entered the Pushkin Museum. 

For Sergei however, it all started with a following a trip to Paris in 1897, when he bought his first Monet (his house in Moscow ended up being decorated with a grand total of 258 canvases by the time of his death). 

By 1914, Shchukin owned: 
13 Monets
3 Renoir
8 Cézanne
4 Van Gogh
16 Gauguin of the Tahitian period
7 Henri Rousseau
50 Picassos (most of his early cubist works as well as key works from the Rose and Blue periods)

Most of these works are now considered chef d'oeuvres of the Post Impressionist and early Modern period. However, Shchukin had a particularly close relationship with Matisse, who came to Moscow to decorate his mansion who created one of his iconic paintings (commonly recognised as "a key point of Matisse's career and in the development of modern painting"), La Danse, specially for Shchukin.

In 1909, Shchukin opened his home on Sundays for public viewings. However, he was forced to flee for Paris after the revolution in 1917 and his collection went into the care of the state in the State Museum of New Western Art (which was closed down in 1948 because Stalin allegedly found its artworks bourgeois and cosmopolitan). Now, the collection is divided in between the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

 Paul Gauguin / Aha Oe Feii? Are You Jealous? / 1892

 Pierre Puvis de Chevannes / Study for the Poor Fisherman / 1879

Room 3 was arranged like the Chapel in Shchukin's home in order to display the works in the context they were originally were in - personally this was the more interesting of rooms, I don't really think the way they used the huge spaces in the gallery was all that innovative or visitor-friendly.

What I really liked is that for once an exhibition is focusing on recreating a private collection which I personally found very cool, especially given the photos of what it used to look like exhibited in the Trubetzkoy Palace beforehand.


Claude Monet / Le déjeuner sur l'herbe / 1865-1866

  Henri Matisse / Spanish woman holding a tambourine / 1909 / detail

"He started to collect unpopular art, which was snubbed by the Louvre and other museums. It was his personal taste. Perhaps he heard foreshocks that would change the world. Such a collector could appear only in a country that awaited a revolution. He collected art that prefigured the global cataclysms".
Irina Antonova, Director of the Pushkin Museum

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