Fondation Louis Vuitton reveals its secrets

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As well as new commissions, Bernard Arnault’s private museum plans to borrow works from the Hermitage and Tate

Frank Gehry has designed a dramatic building in the Bois de Boulogne

The works on show in the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the private museum founded by the billionaire and luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault, have finally been revealed after months of secrecy. A week before it is due to open to the public, the foundation confirms on its website it has commissioned works by Ellsworth Kelly, Olafur Eliasson, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Sarah Morris, Taryn Simon, Cerith Wyn Evans and Adrián Villar Rojas for the dramatic new building in the Bois de Boulogne.

The 3,850 sq. m museum space, designed by the architect Frank Gehry, also houses around 15 pieces by the German artist Gerhard Richter. Works by several French artists are also on view. These include Christian Boltanski (6 septembres, 2005), Bertrand Lavier (Empress of India II, 2005), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (M.2062, la partie de l’opéra) and Pierre Huyghe (A Journey That Wasn’t, 2005).

The French company LVMH first unveiled the project in 2006 at the initiative of its chairman, Arnault. Gehry’s design incorporates 12 glass exterior “sails”. “The building does not disappoint!” says Suzanne Pagé, the artistic director of the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

According to the French web publication Le Quotidien de l’Art, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is due to launch an exhibition next spring entitled “Les clés d’une passion” which will include loans from major institutions such as the Tate in London and the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Pagé says that this “will be an historic show with around 50 key works of the 20th century borrowed from great museums”.

A display charting the evolution of the 11-gallery venue, which opens to the public 27 October, forms part of the inaugural programme (until 16 March 2015). The collection, believed to be a combination of works owned by LVMH and Arnault, will be unveiled in three stages between now and September next year.

Works on show by Richter include a 1969 seascape, a grey canvas dating from 1973 and a large-scale work from the 1990s series “Abstraktes bild”. Another work by a German artist, Thomas Schütte, takes centre stage: the vast plaster and wood sculpture Mann im Matsch, 2009.

The US artist Ellsworth Kelly has, meanwhile, made a curtain, Spectrum VIII, 2014, consisting of 12 coloured strips, for the building’s auditorium. Five coloured panels by Kelly also hang in the space (Red Yellow Blue Green Purple, 2014).

The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, a favourite of Arnault’s, has created an ambitious installation, Inside the Horizon, 2014, made up of 43 prism-shaped columns that are illuminated from the inside. The structures are placed along a walkway in the “Grotto” area around a pool. “Visitors are invited to walk amongst them, activating an endless interplay of reflections,” says the Fondation Louis Vuitton website.

Performance art is also on Arnault’s agenda. UK artist Oliver Beer’sComposition for a New Museum transforms one of the galleries into a “musical instrument” with three singers sending vibrations around the room.

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