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Analysis out of the box

Culture is the word at Louis Vuitton

Analysis out of the boxArt & Business | For the past 15 years, luxury brands have infiltrated the worlds of art and culture to the point of becoming key players in this ecosystem. Through rejuvenation, communications or strategy, each luxury brand has incorporated or encoded contemporary art and made artists and design key to their brand. And in the new cultural landscape of luxury, the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton culture zone has spent eight years developing a contemporary travel philosophy. We present an overview and in-depth analysis of a lesser-known aspect of luxury brands.

Photo de la verrière (détail) © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Louis-Marie Dauzat
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Photo de la verrière (détail)
© Fondation Louis Vuitton / Louis-Marie Dauzat

Louis Vuitton (LVMH group) « Art » Topography

Of the luxury fashion houses, Louis Vuitton currently has the best grasp of challenges inherent to art with a three-pronged general strategy :
- A General Arty Touch, fine-tuned during the Marc Jacobs’ era, intended to rapidly promote and consolidate the aging brand in the contemporary world. The Murakami or Cindy Sherman effect will quickly develop through collaborations with other leading artists, controlled arketing actions in all sectors, fashion inspiration, merchandising, fashion shows, window displays akin to urban theatres and digital and viral communication. The Arty phenomenon has become widely used as an international visual language that speaks to everyone and transcends geographical and virtual borders.
- LVMH’s extensive sponsorship, via the request to Franck Gehry to create an Archi-Sulpture-Iceberg to house the Louis Vuitton Foundation for design in Paris, has extended its influence to the group brand; it plays the role of an internationally recognised icon looking ahead to the history of the 21st century. The premise of the project was an architecturally challenging building, requiring previously unseen technologies and specific 3D software - the Catia tool developed by Dassault Aéronautique. Formed of « unique tailor-made moulded panel » , the glass roof is set to measure 13,500 m2 in an almost pharaonic construction. Work begun in 2006 for an October 2014 opening but the schedule for the building has yet to be released.
- Imaginative exploration and transmisión, intrinsic to the brand, initiated by the curatorial initiatives of the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton de Paris culture zone, which paved the way for those in Tokyo (2011) and Munich (2014). Entirely free of charge and part of the Louis Vuitton building, these spaces are independent with separate access, allowing temporary exhibitions and assistance open to all.

The Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton de Paris : a capsule projected far and wide and into the future

The approach and identity were devised and constructed empirically as of 2006 on a blank page : a vacant open-air space above the flagship building on the Champs Elysées. Marie-Ange Moulonguet - entrusted by Yves Carcelle, then Chairman of Louis Vuitton, to oversee operations - defined the concept : a place of free cultural and artistic expression, entirely free of charge; an approach geared towards travel, a founding value of the brand, showcasing the diversity of art scenes in a changing world; transmission to the general public and assistance.

Lesser known and less controlled, this unprecedented experimental element of the luxury brand was devised as a capsule to be projected far and wide and into the future, pinpointing fields of exploration and experience. To access the exhibition space on the top floor, visitors experience a loss of bearings as they take Your loss of sense - a cabin padded entirely in black - to the space, a permanent and iconic installation devised by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.
The collaboration with Hervé Mikaeloff explores and showcases little-known international art scenes of the future such as Moscow, the East, Chile, Korea, Turkey, Romania and Africa. Other exhibition themes help visitors to find their bearings in the turbulence of globalisation : spiritual markers from literature (Ecritures silencieuses « Silent Writing » ), eternal childhood (Qui es-tu Peter ? « Who are you Peter? » ), the movement of images and perceptions (Travelling), otherness and sharing (Altérité. Je est un autre « Otherness. I is another » ) and sidereal artist visions inspired by scientific changes (Astralis).

The transmission element appears in the guise of an inventive mediation-assistance policy developed in line with the welcome ceremony typical to luxury brands : the visitors are welcomed as soon as they exit the lift and accompanied throughout their visit; mornings are put aside to provide information to schoolchildren or PhD students for educational matters or research; new assistance techniques are experimented with in the course of a « choreographed pathway ».

The other two Espaces Culturel Louis Vuitton have found their own niche : Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo has focused on the exploration of an artist via monographs and detailed studies while Espace Louis Vuitton Munich’s guiding principle will be the collection. In general terms, the individual activity of each of these three spaces could provide combined inspiration with the support of joint actions united by the newly established Art & Culture department, managed by Christine Vendredi-Auzanneau. To be continued...

Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 04/04/2014
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Version française

Photo de la verrière (détail) © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Louis-Marie Dauzat Exposition Astralis 2014- Basserode, Via Lactea, 2012, Courtesy Galerie Martine et Thibault de La Chatre © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Børre Sæthre : Untitled [ Arches of Solaris ], 2014. Courtesy : Børre Sæthre & Galerie LOEVENBRUCK. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Charley Case, 2014. Courtesy : Charley Case. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Damien Deroubaix. Courtesy : Nosbaum & Reding, Luxembourg & Galerie In Situ / fabienne leclerc. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Damien Deroubaix. Courtesy : Nosbaum & Reding, Luxembourg & Galerie In Situ / fabienne leclerc. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- David Altmejd - The Mask Gallery, 2010. Courtesy : Collection FRAC Midi-Pyrénées, les Abattoirs, Toulouse & Andrea Rosen Gallery. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Jean-Luc Favéro, 2013. Courtesy : Jean-Luc Favéro. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Myriam Mechita - Les incendies volontaires ou le fracas de la proie, 2013. Courtesy : Myriam Mechita & Galerie Eva Hober. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Siobhan Hapaska. Courtesy Siobhan Hapaska. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Astralis 2014- Vidya Gastaldon. Courtesy Vidya Gastaldon. Photo © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton Exposition Atérité. Je est un Autre 2012 - Gil Yefman Tumtum, 2012 © Pauline Guyon / Louis Vuitton

Photo de la verrière (détail)
© Fondation Louis Vuitton / Louis-Marie Dauzat

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