International Photo Credit: Neal McLennan

The One Sight You Must See in Europe this Summer

Frank Gehry's Fondation Louis Vuitton is both the most exciting building and the most exciting art gallery in Europe.

So I’m going to start by laying it on the line: I’ve never really loved Frank Gehry as an architect. His Experience Music Project in Seattle in one of the worst “starchitect” buildings I’ve visited. His work at the Art Gallery of Ontario is better, but not exactly awe-inspiring. With his showy flourishes and gimmicky cladding, he always seemed like an architect who pandered to the public’s desire for a spectacle at the expense of cool functionality. So when Louis Vuitton announced that Gehry would design the Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art gallery on Paris’ Bois de Boulogne, it seemed the equivalent of hiring Nicholas Cage to star in your movie—in 2015.

Fat lot I know.

I was in Paris last week and toured the newly opened museum and I can safely say it’s one of the most impressive buildings I’ve seen in a long while (well, since Allied Works Clifford Styll Museum in Denver in February, but before that, a long while).

For starters, for a intentionally dramatic building, it blends into one of the few leafy parts of Paris nicely.

Fondation louis vuitton

Its most striking feature is a floating exoskeleton (not a word you get to use outside comic books very often) that allows the building to have an indoor-outdoor vibe in Paris’ raining winters and also allows ample outdoor access while maintaining a security level commensurate with a place that’s exhibiting Munch’s The Scream right now.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Inside the space alternates between moments of quiet contemplation …

Fondation Louis Vuitton

… to dynamic scenes of the guts of the building, both indoors

Fondation Louis Vuitton

—and out.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

And the collection, stocked with modern masters like Gilbert & George, Christian Marclay, Andreas Gursky, is a perfect foil to the building.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

The Details

Tickets can be reserved online (full price: 14 euros or approx. $19.50), or if you’re feeling lucky you can line up once you get there (on a Sunday in mid-June the wait was 25 minutes, but expect triple that come July and August).

And when you’re done you can wander the Bois de Boulogne—the French don’t do parks that well, the grass looks both unkempt, but not wild—but Roland Garros, home of the French Open, is a short stroll away.

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