As luck would have it, we managed to visit the newly opened Fondation Louis Vuitton on our recent trip to Paris. We took the subway out to the Blois de Boulogne, walked a short way through a small residential neighborhood, entered the part, and then voila.
The building would seem to be classic Gehry, all glass and metal. Having never seen one of his buildings in person, I’ll say it was impressive. And inside, there were multiple terraces and views, putting the visitor right inside the architecture.
There were a number of exhibits about the building itself. While interesting, the sheer number of them and the space devoted to say, documenting the soil and groundbreaking, were a bit much. Too self-referential.
Of the exhibits, I liked the Richter gallery which displayed a range of his works from various eras – with echoes of his retrospective in Berlin which we visited a few years ago. I also enjoyed Dial A Poet, a strange exhibit with rotary phones where you listened to someone on the other end read a poem or passage. Mine was a guy with a New York accent reading from a diary about a teenage kid going to practice, his creepy coach asking him to change into a new uniform …
Since our visit to Inhotim in Brazil, I’ve come to like sound exhibits, if that’s what they are called. The FLV featured an interesting one with a crystal chandelier of sorts that vibrated with sound. There was another one in a small room and a small line out waiting to go inside. Alas, at only 6 people per viewing and the program running 10 minutes, even a small line meant a longer line than we were willing to endure.
The exhibits were engaging and accessible, even if I didn’t really love all of them. Let’s face it, the star of the collection is the building, and less what’s housed inside.
The Hotel de Salle, the mansion which houses the Picasso Museum in the Marais is similarly impressive. A gorgeous building, with a courtyard where you wait to get into the museum, the setting matches the artwork inside.
The museum had been closed for renovations for the past five years and just reopened the week before our visit. For whatever reason, this museum had never been on my radar on our previous trips. I’m not sure why.
Many of the most famous Picasso pieces – Demoiselles d’Avignon, for example – remain at their normal homes. You’ll see studies for Demoiselles, but not the piece itself.
Instead, what struck me about the exhibits was the sheer range of Picasso’s work. There were the paintings and the collages, but also sculptures and pottery. One of my favorites? The photographs of Picasso, especially the ones of him working. There’s a whole wall of black and white photographs by Picasso’s mistress Dora Maar showing the progression of Guernica from canvas to finished painting. The other photo I liked? A black and white photograph by Dora Maar of 20 or so Picasso paintings of Dora Maar stacked up in his studio.
I also liked seeing the works Picasso collected and the interplay between those works and his own. So you’l see a Modigliani that Picasso owned, with the woman’s long, pale neck and oval face … it evokes two paintings of his at the museum, both with a model similarly painted. Or you see the Renoir of a bather drying off her foot the pose very similar to his version of a bather. And so on. Of course, I particularly liked seeing Picasso’s Braque and his Matisse pieces given their collaborations.