Galeries Lafayette Foundation Enlists Rem Koolhaas for Innovative New Space

It will house artist studios and exhibition space in Le Marais.

Fondation Lafayette before its upcoming refurb. Photo courtesy Fondation Lafayette

French haute department store Galeries Lafayette will open Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette (Galeries Lafayette Corporate Foundation) next year, in the Le Marais district of Paris.

The Foundation will be situated in a beautiful 19th century building on rue du Plâtre, and renovated by architect Rem Koolhaas’s firm OMA, who also designed the Fondazione Prada in Milan. It will function as a gallery space for art, design, and the performing arts, including art produced in on-site artist workshops.

The board of directors boasts such names as Chris Dercon of the Tate Modern, Martin Hatebur of Kunsthalle Basel, and Laurent Le Bon of Musée Picasso. The project is due for completion in autumn 2017, with refurbishment costs of €21 million (around $22 million).

“We created the Galeries Lafayette Corporate Foundation as a tool for advancing the conversation in our era and participating in the major social debates through the applied and visual arts,” Gallerie Lafayette heir Guillaume Houzé’s statement reads.

“The Foundation will be more than a gallery. It will be a place to gather and converse, to engage on a wide range of topics and issues. It will attempt to sharpen our perception of our era, using a forward-focused approach similar to the one that infuses our core department store business. Fashion and other designers, visual artists and performers will contrast their practices and thinking with those of the broadest possible cross-section of the public,” the statement continues.

Houzé is also president of the foundation, alongside his grandmother and honorary chairwoman Ginette Moulin. Houzé and Moulin have been amassing a collection of contemporary art since 2005 with a view to exhibiting it. The collection includes a variety of works by the likes of Tatiana Trouvé, Yngve Holen, Simon Fujiwara, Helen Marten, Cyprien Gaillard, Ryan Gander, and Camille Henrot.

Camille Henrot Photo: Courtesy Galerie Kamel Mennour.

Camille Henrot. Photo courtesy Galerie Kamel Mennour.

The main intention of the foundation will be to support and give a platform to young and emerging artists.  It is also currently holding exhibitions of an “anticipation” program in Paris. “Joining Forces with Unknown” is currently on view, with work by Cally Spooner and Oliver Laric in an old Weber Métaux store building.

This corporate art foundation is another addition to the slew currently popping up in France. It joins Bernard Arnault’s Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, and will be followed by Francois Pinault’s museum in the old Parisian stock exchange La Bourse in 2018. In Southwestern France, Martell Cognac has just launched the Foundation d’entreprise Martell, with the aim of being fully functioning by 2021.

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