Jean-Paul Claverie, advisor to Bernard Arnault, and Sophie Durrleman, Deputy director of the Fondation Louis Vuittonanswer three questions about the unique project behind the Fondation.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton opened on October 27th. Could you describe the birth of this project ?
Jean-Paul Claverie: The idea of a foundation came up at my very first meeting with Bernard Arnault on 28 August 1990. At the time, I was an advisor to the French minister of culture, Jack Lang. A few months later, Bernard Arnault asked me to join him at the LVMH group. In the course of the many conversations that followed, we discussed and developed the idea of a foundation implementing and giving permanent form to an artistic, cultural and educational programme. The dream took over twenty years to come true, but with this project, it would be taking on the role of fully-fledged cultural and artistic player. For Bernard Arnault, there could only be one setting for such a project: Paris. It occurred to me that there was a deep affinity between the work of Frank Gehry and Bernard Arnault’s vision of the building that between ourselves we were already referring to as ‘La Fondation.’ A real bond developed between the two men, allowing this utopian project to exist.Five years after meeting the architect Frank Gehry, Bernard Arnault launched this major project with him, collaborating with Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, Minister of Culture, Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, and Yves Carcelle, Chairman of Louis Vuitton. Thanks to this vision, LVMH has a new star, and Paris a new emblematic building. The Fondation Louis Vuitton is also a sign of confidence and an act of great generosity toward future generations
How was the artistic project of the Fondation conceived and who is it designed for?
Sophie Durrleman: To welcome and guide a broad public curious to discover the contemporary art exhibited in the building designed by Frank Gehry, a world renowned architect, to elicit questions and answers, emotion and wonder: this is the role of the Fondation Louis Vuitton. This transparent vessel projects the contours of a pedagogical and cultural mission founded on the values of rigour and performance sustained by the history of the company. Its visitors are characterized by the great diversity of their cultural practices and their expectations. The visitors to this new cultural venue may be new, but they are also demanding. They are looking for something out of the ordinary, but also for vital cultural and pedagogical references. To meet their aspirations, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is working to develop tools of mediation conducive to emotion, sensibility and discovery, to knowledge and to transmission, and thereby expressing the singular configuration of the institution.
The opening of the Fondation Louis Vuitton brings a new dimension to the social solidarity policy of LVMH. How does this project relates to the sponsorship actions of the Groups?
Jean-Paul Claverie: In the 1990s, LVMH embarked on a series of exhibitions – nearly forty in the end –, and acts of patronage outside its walls, which would constitute the base of the Fondation’s identity. This Fondation marks the achievement of activities that it has undertaken over the past twenty-five years to support art, culture and heritage. Built at the heart of a historically and culturally important site, this structural innovation enriches Paris’ architectural heritage. It is a new stage launched by a renewed orientation, through a long-term commitment to a specific location and perpetuating an institution, and a major act of philanthropy for Paris with the construction of an exceptional building in the public domain of the city, and the signature with the municipality of an occupancy contract for 55 years. After this, the Fondation will be given to Paris, as a gift from LVMH to the City of Light.