We would be remiss in our efforts to cover anything and all things cultural if we did not give more than a passing mention to the cover of Architectural Digest this past month that had emblazoned upon it the new Fondation Louis Vuitton for creativity outside of Paris by Frank Gehry. It is a stunning building, although the cover photo used doesn’t do it real justice, in our opinion – the folded arm-sails of glass are beautifully executed but hardly evocative of the project as a whole.
In none too short a time it will be 20 years since the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was opened, while Gehry has been a prolific architect and designer in this interim period, he hasn’t really come up with a leap frog to his next stylistic vernacular, until now. The Fondation Louis Vuitton is a very uniquely Gehry and a welcome huge step forward for the architect. The glass sails are gentler, more ephemeral. The building does appear to almost be ready to take off in flight, and from another angle appears to be an unfolding flower, the larger image is that of clouds, its a beautiful piece of art, sculpture, meets architecture. And perhaps in all of that lies it’s downfall. Already there are legion of writers calling it a poor museum, and rather a sculpture for what it is – a monument to Bernard Arnault who built it. The string of beautiful museums by famous architects and obscenely wealthy patrons gives one pause to consider, are these not simply modern pyramids built by the Pharaohs of capitalism?