Architect Frank Gehry opens $126-million Louis Vuitton art museum
The Louis Vuitton Foundation art museum and cultural center, created by architect Frank Gehry, in Paris, Oct. 17, 2014. The $126 million building, with billowing glass casing and 11 gallery spaces, has been compared to an iceberg or giant sailboat and took over a decade to make. (AP / Christophe Ena)
Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press
Published Friday, October 17, 2014 1:34PM EDT
PARIS -- Architect Frank Gehry opened his latest project on Friday, the more than $126 million Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, which has bowled over critics.
Glistening in the morning sun in west of the city, with billowing glass casing and white concrete panels, the nearly 12,000 square meter building resembles an iceberg.
Gehry used the occasion to show the building to the media; it will officially open to the public at the end of October with a special exhibit dedicated to him.
The structure was commissioned to house the art collection of billionaire Bernard Arnault, the CEO of the world's biggest luxury group, LVMH, Louis Vuitton's parent company. It also will be used as an art gallery with some 11 display spaces of different sizes.
Decorated with "L's" and "V's," the building has been branded by some as a "vanity project" of tycoon Arnault, Europe's richest man.
But for Gehry it's about the art. "The idea for me became of a building that had movement, sails," he told The Associated Press.
He said the bare, unfinished-looking nature of the glass atriums, like a blank canvas, was designed to encourage other artists to "intervene" and use the space in the future. He said contemporary artist Daniel Buren plans to paint on the structure.
"I like my buildings (to be) not complete so that it invites people to play," he said.
The well-known architect created the titanium-encased Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, where he is based.
The American-Canadian also is in the process of designing the National Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial to be built in Washington.
Famous for his organic-like structures, he said the evolution of the project in Paris was not predetermined. "I think when one works intuitively it's very hard to explain. You're responding to place and time," he said.
The 85-year-old, who appeared frail, also spoke of his love of Paris -- a place that has touched him artistically for more than half a century.
It's "been the centre of culture and continues to be the centre of culture no matter what anybody does or says, since the Greeks," he said. "To be loved by France is extraordinarily special for me."