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Private initiative conquers art in Paris

The Lafayette Anticipations Foundation joins a transformation map where the centers raised by great patrons are gaining ground for public museums

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Private initiative conquers art in Paris

The most visited exhibition in history of French museums was not organized by a large public art gallery such as Louvre or Musée d'orsay. The record beat him, in March 2017, a private museum with only three years of existence: Louis Vuitton Foundation, created by fashion magnate Bernard Arnault. His exhibition dedicated to collection of Russian patron Sergei Shchukin, who invested part of his fortune in painters such as Picasso, Matisse and Gauguin before his worldwide recognition, managed to attract 1.2 million visitors. The cost of exhibition, which collected 130 masterpieces provided by Hermitage of St. Petersburg and Pushkin of Moscow, was encrypted between 10 and 13 million euros per Le Monde. "The Pompidou centre would not have been able to afford it," said grandson of collector, André-Marc Delocque-Fourcaud, to justify his final destination.

Since inauguration of this foundation in a majestic building of Frank Gehry, emulate are multiplied throughout France, until it does not so much farland of a culture of strictly public ownership. For decades, Cartier Foundation in Paris was only exception to that rule. But times have changed. The last example opened its doors on Saturday in Parisian quarter of Marais. Lafayette Anticipations, foundation for contemporary Art of Galeries Lafayette, occupies an industrial property of 900 m2 of late XIX, rehabilitated by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who signs with this project its first building in Paris. "We had to preserve everything before 1900, so margin of freedom was reduced. We could only intervene in a small inner courtyard, so we decided to create a bulk floor system with which you can get up to 49 different configurations, ' says Koolhaas on this building with modular surfaces depending on size of works And artist's intent. "It was chance to do radical things on a small scale," he says.

The opening exhibition seems to follow that same slogan. It is dedicated to Lutz Bacher, a conceptual artist with some renown in Seventies, reputed for radicality of his language and little known beyond a small circle of connoisseurs. For inauguration, Bacher has orchestrated a series of video installations captured on a French beach, with fury of wind seepinged by microphone of his camera and destroying eardrums of visitor. And, as only counterpoint, a rain of glitter that draws subtle rainbows when landing on ground. All this without cartouches, panels or explanations, at express request of artist. Lafayette Anticipations thus responds to criticisms about alleged lack of risk of this type of private foundations, accused of always exposing to same artists, all known and quoted. It is hard to imagine a large public museum that would have dared to put bacher between its four walls.

Magnify Photo A woman visits one of facilities of Lafayette Anticipations, last March 5, in Paris. CHRISTOPHE SIMON AFP/Getty Images

With this gesture, Lafayette anticipations is almost magically placed at forefront of contemporary art in Paris. "The director of National Museum of Modern Art, Bernard Blistène, told me that we are fulfilling original mission of Pompidou...", prides president of Foundation, Guillaume Houzé, grandson of man who founded, in 1893, Galeries Lafayette, Converted today into largest large European warehouse. "There is a risk that y will perceive us as elitists, but I am very careful not to be so. We're named after some galleries that democratized fashion. In same way, our mission is to make art more accessible. There is continuity in our business history, says Houzé.

The President of Foundation does not consider that re is an antagonism to state centres. "The public authorities cannot do it all by mselves. In addition, museums no longer have money, neir to acquire works of art nor to run ir buildings. Joining forces is a sign of modernity, "Reza Houzé. "We do what ors cannot do. It is our way of contributing to society, because it is of receipt to return part of what we have captured, "adds president of center, referring to American model of give back, which is so essential for financing of its institutions Cultural.

is a cultural sector imaginable in which private initiative is a majority? "I Milito because state and public administrations remain committed to institutions that y mselves created and, in many cases, suffer from budget cuts", says CEO of Lafayette Anticipations, François Quintin, In charge of program and supporter of synergies. "In 2018, things have evolved. For 15 years French law of corporate patronage came into force [allowing 60% of corporate tax to be inspected] and that has ended up changing rules. There is no longer an opposition between public and private sectors. Companies have become aware of how important [art] is to ir image. and public institutions travel to private world in search of patronages. The border has become porous, "Quintin tops.

Multiplying foundations

Lafayette Anticipations adds to a changing art map, in which private institutions multiply. Following success of Louis Vuitton and centers created by companies such as LECLERC supermarkets or liquors Ricard, collector Maja Hoffmann, heir of a Swiss pharmaceutical empire, opened in 2017 his foundation Luma in Arles, industrial complex presisit by A new Gehry tower, with a sample that gared all files of Annie Leibovitz, who also acquired by a confidential figure. Surely, no public museum could have allowed it.

On island of Porquerolles, in Brittany, an art center driven by insurance company Carmignac will open in June, inspired by magical museums of Japanese islands of Naoshima and Teshima. Meanwhile, on island of Séguin, new cultural Center in west of Paris, real estate promoter Emerige will create an art centre designed by Catalan trio RCR Arquitectes, to be inaugurated in 2020. And, a year earlier, fashion tycoon François Pinault, owner of Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, will present his collection of contemporary art in a venue located in former Paris Stock Exchange, which Japanese architect Tadao Ando remodeled for occasion.

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