Department stores, a history of luxury
Le Bon Marché, the first major department store in the world, opened its doors in 1852, in Paris, at the initiative of Aristide and Marguerite Boucicaut. Their visionary approach promoted the idea of “a new commercial space that invites the explosion of all senses”. Right from its inception, Le Bon Marché’s alleys displayed its founders’ art collection.
Nowadays, the department store exhibits a collection of more than 80 contemporary artworks. Said collection was started in the late 1990s by former CEO Philippe De Beauvoir and has since been extended by Patrice Wagner with 20th and 21st century furniture. Every January sales period since 2016, Le Bon Marché gives an international artist free rein to redraw its space through the creation of spectacular and eventful environments. In 2016, https://www.24sevres.com/fr-ae/le-bon-marche/vu-au-bon-marche/rencontre-avec-ai-weiwei Ai Weiwei] introduced flying creatures inspired on “Shanhaijing” Chinese tales, in 2017 Chiharu Shiota created immersive installations with sculptures made of interwoven white threads, and in 2018 Leandro Erlich invaded the space with phantasmagoria, twisting and reversing reality as an illusionist, attempting to go beyond paradise.
While Le Bon Marché assigns part of its space to scenographic installations, the Galeries Lafayette in Paris and the Aïshti Foundation in Beirut have chosen to introduce art by giving it its own exclusive exhibition areas.
Guillaume Houzé, Director of Image and Communication at the Galeries Lafayette and BHV Marais, is currently perpetuating the history and vocation of his grand-mother Ginette Moulin (grand-daughter of Téophile Bader). Moulin’s passion for art led her to exhibit works of artists such as Nicolas de Staël and Alberto Giacometti in the department store since 1946.
In 2005, La Galerie des Galeries opened on the department store’s first floor, not far from the luxury brands’ area. The non-commercial exhibition space covers 300m2 and follows an annual program of four exhibitions that focus on French and international creation. In 2013, an artistic patronage policy was further defined with the creation of the Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin (Moulin Family Endowment Fund), chaired by Ginette Moulin herself. With a collection of 200 works, it is parallel to the Fondation d’enterprise Galeries Lafayette (Galeries Lafayette Corporate Foundation). In March 2018, the Lafayette group opened a specific space for art exhibition in the Marais. Guillaume Houzé entrusted its architecture to Rem Koolhaas and his agency OMA; the Fondation Lafayette Anticipations has been conceived as a new entity, a laboratory bringing together workshops devoted to production and exhibition spaces. It welcomes international creators from the fields of design, fashion and contemporary art.
The Aïshti Foundation opened in Beirut in 2015; owned by Lebanese collector and businessman Tony Salamé, it was also conceived as a space mixing art, luxury and business. Designed by architect David Adjaye, the building covers 35,000 m2 and houses several restaurants, a shopping mall, luxury shops and a museum. This cultural space counts with an exhibition area of 4,000 m2 and hosts the collection of its founder (around 2,500 works). Massimiliano Gioni, curator of the 55th Venice Biennale, oversees its artistic direction.
Museum Retail or the art of shopping
While some fashion and luxury brands are adding creative dimensions to their image, some shopping centers are integrating museums in their space as a central part of their identity.
The NorthPark Center in Dallas
Opened to the public in 1965, the NorthPark Center in Dallas was conceived as a shopping center that brings art into daily life.
American couple Raymond Nasher (1921-2007) and Patsy Nasher (1928-1988) were the founders of the 218,000 m2 Center. They built their art collection throughout their life, acquiring pre-Columbian works in the 1950’s, sculptures by artists such as Jean Arp, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder in the 1960’s, and then opening up to contemporary artists in the 1980’s with works by Claes Oldenburg, Richard Serra, Judd Donald, Roy Lichtenstein, Anish Kapoor, Richard Deacon, Jeff Koons...
The couple saw the shopping center as a platform for global exhibition, displaying their collection both indoors and outdoors.
Nowadays, their daughter Nancy Nasher and her husband David J. Haemisegger, co-owners of the NorthPark Center and members of the executive committee of the Nasher Sculpture Center (a museum created in 2003 by Raymond Nasher, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano) are developing the patriarch’s vision by enlarging the family’s collection and forging partnerships with private collections.
The case of Shanghai’s K11
Adrian Cheng, a young Harvard-educated Chinese entrepreneur who previously worked at UBS and Goldman Sachs, created the brand K11 in China with the idea of designing shopping centers that would bring business and art together. The first K11 was inaugurated in 2009 in Hong Kong, the second one was launched in Shanghai in 2013 aiming to become a “lifestyle art mall”. Its building’s architecture is based on fluid curves and its design has integrated ecological concerns while considering the necessity of incorporating exhibitions and artworks in the department store.
K11 is part of an artistic ecosystem created by Adrian Cheng and that reinforces the links between his shopping centers and art. In 2012, he created the K11 Art Foundation, a structure that promotes and supports the work of young Chinese creators. It is divided in several entities : the K11 Workshops, the K11 Art Village and artists residencies such as the K11 Artist-in Residence Program or the K11 Artist Klub. Through his Foundation, Cheng financed the exhibition Inside China - L’intérieur du Géant at the Palais de Tokyo, institution with which he signed a 3-year collaboration program. In 2015, he also closed a 3-year partnership with the Centre Pompidou to explore the diversity of the contemporary Chinese art scenes and their new trends. In 2017, the K11 Art Foundation and the MoMA PS1 co-presented the exhibition “.com/.cn”.
Adrian Cheng’s ultimate ambition is to launch K11 projects in 9 Chinese cities by 2023. “Art-malls”, “art-offices”, “art-residencies”, all concepts that go beyond the traditional Western art experiences typically based on platforms such as museums and exhibition spaces.
The Parkview Green case in Beijing
Launched in 2009 by the Parkview Group (a conglomerate of private companies), Parkview Green covers an area of 200,000 m2, offering a shopping center, a hotel and a Museum on the building’s 10th floor. Founded by George Wong, art collector and president of the Parkview Group until 2017, the Parkview Green Museum is a private non-profit institution with a 4,000 m2 exhibition area, and a research and education program. In 2017, the Group also inaugurated a Museum at the heart of the Parkview Square in Singapore.
The Group’s collection gathers approximately 10,000 works by Chinese and international artists, it also holds the largest quantity of Salvador Dali works outside Spain. In addition to museums, the Parkview Group directs several projects in Asia and Europe, including art galleries based in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong-Kong and Taipei.
French style Museum Retail
In 2015, at Cagnes-sur-Mer, the Unibail-Rodamco group (owner of 71 shopping centers in Europe) and the Socri society inaugurated the Polygone Riviera shopping center.
Designed as an open-air center dedicated to shopping and culture, the Polygone Riviera draws on the expertise and artistic direction of Jérôme Sans who selected 11 works by French and international artists such as Ben, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, Buren, César, Antony Gormley, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Pablo Reinoso, Pascal Martin Tayou and Wang Du. In 2016, an alliance with the Maeght Foundation led to the loan of five sculptures by Joan Miró : La Caresse d’un oiseau, 1967; Personnage, 1970; Constellation, 1971; Personnage, 1972; Monument, 1970.
In 2017, the Muse shopping center in Metz was part of its neighborhood’s urban redevelopment project, which initiated in 2010 with the inauguration of the Centre Pompidou-Metz. Located opposite the Pompidou and designed by architect Jean-Paul Viguier, Muse was conceived by Apsys, a development company that manages 31 shopping centers in France and Poland.
Apsys hired Manifesto (a strategic consulting company specialized in artistic and cultural initiatives led by private companies) to define the design, production and mediation of an art commissions’ program. Muse currently displays four permanent installations by the French artists Chourouk Hriech, Julio Le Parc, Lionel Estève and Romain Froquet.
The number of shopping centers integrating art in their space as an added value is increasing, turning this trend into an “Art and Business” urban development strategy for disadvantaged neighborhoods. This is the case of Médiacité in Liège (2009) which is located in the impoverished neighborhood of Longdoz. The shopping center was created by real estate developer Wilhelm & Co and then bought by the American group CBRE Global Investors in 2016. The business complex operates in a building conceived by designer-architect Ron Arad in collaboration with Jaspers-Eyers Architects. Halfway between an architectural work and an installation, the 360-meter-long structure is composed of steel strips that cover part of the department store and its approximately one hundred shops.
It is worth noting that shopping centers hold a central place in Asia, particularly in Japan. According to the 2016 Japanese Art Industry Market Research Report, elaborated by the Art Tokyo Association (owner of Art Fair Tokyo), only 7% of art sales on Japanese soil take place in fairs, while galleries and department stores represent 33% and 26% of sales respectively. To be continued.