PARIS – Art, luxury and geopolitics converged on Tuesday at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, like the boss of LVMH Bernard Arnault gave French President Emmanuel Macron a preview his last successful exhibition, organized with the help of the Russian government.
It was the last demonstration of unity between the two men, after Macron’s appearance at the inauguration of the Samaritaine department store in June. The French leader and first lady Brigitte Macron joined diplomats and museum officials for the evening tour, followed by a concert conducted by Russian conductor Valery Gergiev.
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“I have dreamed of presenting this exceptional collection in Paris for a long time,” Arnault said in a speech. “Getting all these paintings to come in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has been quite difficult, but despite the challenges of the current health crisis, we have finally managed to put on this beautiful show which I think will be a great success. “
Bringing together 200 masterpieces of French and Russian art usually divided between three Russian museums, “The Morozov Collection, Icons of Modern Art” opened to the public on Wednesday and will run until February 22. It presents works by Matisse, Picasso, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir, among others.
Among the seniors LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton the officials present were Antoine Arnault, responsible for the image and environment of the French luxury group; his sister Delphine Arnault, second in command of Louis Vuitton, and Sidney Toledano, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group.
Saskia Lawaks / Courtesy of LVMH
Nicolas Ghesquiere, artistic director of women’s collections at Vuitton, met a Brigitte Macron. “Brigitte is always so warm,” enthuses the designer. “We see each other regularly and have the chance to share a great friendship and a great story. She is so inspiring that it is always a pleasure to dress her up.
Vuitton is the first lady must-have brand for public appearances. “It’s something I’ve never really had the chance to experience before, so I think it’s fantastic because we talk a lot. Of course, all of his appearances are extremely important.
“They have to find the right tone, so sometimes we have substantive discussions because there is a protocol, or there are color codes to respect, depending on whether you are the host or the guest” , did he declare. “What is good is that she is the standard bearer of modernity and French know-how, but she really loves fashion.
Russian model Natalia Vodianova, wife of Antoine Arnault, was in conversation with Marina Loshak, director of the Pushkin National Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, who shares custody of the Morozov collection with the National Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the State Tretyakov. Gallery in Moscow.
“Even as Russians, we never see them together. This is what is so exciting about this exhibition, ”Vodianova said of the works of art. “It’s really very special, like the Bonnard downstairs, those pieces that are normally split between the Hermitage and the Pushkin Museum, and here they are together as they were when they were exhibited in Morozov Palace. ”
Saskia Lawaks / Courtesy of LVMH
It was difficult to appreciate the poetry of the works of art with dozens of photographers bustling about taking a photo of Macron and Arnault together. Towards the end of the exhibition, which spans three floors, the two finally briefly removed their masks to pose in front of a portrait of Ivan Morozov by Russian painter Valentin Serov.
“We really need more time,” Vodianova sighed, noting that she had visited the foundation’s historic exhibition around the Shchukin collection, in 2016, no less than six times.
Macron, who is due to run again next year, used his speech to send a pointed message to his political allies, at a time when France is mired in a diplomatic crisis with the United States after a submarine deal with the Australia that French officials called “stabbing in the back.”
Noting that Arnault was granted permission to borrow the Morozov collection from Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, Macron pledged to strengthen ties with Russia, comparing the relationship to the link between Russian textile tycoons Mikhail and Ivan Morozov, and the French artists they supported in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“I would like to affirm France’s sincere commitment to pursue this path and to continue to promote cooperation between our two countries”, declared the president.
“Because when there is such a history, such a taste, such a reciprocal understanding of the French soul and the Russian soul, it is something that we must continue to pursue. It will be done in other places, perhaps in a less fascinating way, but I think I can speak for President Putin and myself when I say it will be done with the same determination, ”he said. he declared.
Arnault, meanwhile, said he hoped to match the success of the Shchukin show, which drew 1.3 million visitors – albeit with fewer international tourists in town and limits on the number of visitors due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this could be a difficult target to meet.
For now, he is content to witness the emotional impact of the exhibition. “At the premiere, I saw people cry with emotion,” said Arnault.
Marc Domage / Courtesy of the Louis Vuitton Foundation