A Beverly Hills Exhibition Celebrates 165 Years of Louis Vuitton by Highlighting Its Long History of Collaborating With Artists

The Parisian house has curated a show of 180 items dating back to its founding.

A view of “Louis Vuitton X" in Beverly Hills. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

Since Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854, the Paris-based house has unfailingly supported the global arts community, partnering with both established and emerging artists to produce masterful designs for their clothing, accessories, and storefronts.

The sheer number of artists, architects, and designers Louis Vuitton has enlisted over the years is staggering: Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, James Rosenquist, Richard Prince, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Rei Kawakubo. Now, for the first time in its storied history, Louis Vuitton has assembled a retrospective to highlight its artist collaborations.

Inside the "Art on Silk" room. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

Inside the “Art on Silk” room. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

Appropriately titled “Louis Vuitton X,” in reference to the many collaborators whose names have appeared alongside the brand’s own, the exhibition, which opened this summer, is currently on view through the weekend across two floors of an iconic Beverly Hills building on Rodeo Drive (which was reportedly sold to LVMH last year for a whopping $245 million). The exhibition has been so well attended since it opened that the French house extended its duration by a month. (It closes on November 10.)

The 180 items on display have been pulled from the house’s archives, and conclude with the latest collection of ArtyCapucines handbags, a recurring series conceived as canvases for influential artists of the moment. For the most recent collection, the house invited Sam Falls, Urs Fischer, Nicholas Hlobo, Alex Israel, Tschabalala Self, and Jonas Wood to lend their unique flair to the handbags, creating a fun and vibrant grouping of items that blur the lines between fine art and high fashion.

For the exhibition, Louis Vuitton curated the pieces on view with museum-level attention and care. Across each room, special-order trunks from the early 20th century, Art Deco perfume bottles, specially commissioned window displays, couture gowns, silk scarves, and more illustrate the rich history of the brand’s engagement with the arts, as well as its ongoing efforts to look beyond its own walls to innovate and lead cultural conversations.

A shot of the Louis Vuitton X building on Rodeo Drive. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

A shot of the Louis Vuitton X building on Rodeo Drive. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

Perhaps the most engaging gallery, and the one most directly connected to art history, is the “Art on Silk” room, a space dedicated to Louis Vuitton’s “Textile” series, which began in the late 1980s when artists were invited to use the brand’s silk scarves as a new medium on which to produce art. The initial rendition included scarves transformed by renowned artists, designers, and architects such as Sol LeWitt and Arata Isozaki.

Over 20 years later, the fashion house asked street artists from all over the world to bring their work to life upon the same material. Now presented together, the array of scarves fills a room, reflecting the differences and commonalities amongst different time periods, backgrounds, artistic fields, and techniques. The juxtaposition of the scarf’s materiality and the act of appropriating it as a canvas aptly combines Louis Vuitton’s desire to counter heritage with modernity. Adding to the history of such collaborations is the brand’s latest series, helmed by Alex Israel and Jonas Wood.

Wood’s relationship with Louis Vuitton has gone beyond just one project. “I never made an object beyond a print and a book before, so it was really cool to do something in three-dimensions, to take a pattern and give it texture and to work with different materials like leather and thread,” Wood tells Artnet News of his ArtyCapucine handbag.

Sandro Chia's Art on Silk creation. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

Sandro Chia’s “Art on Silk” creation. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

The Art on Silk experience offered another opportunity to explore his practice. “My idea was to mash up stuff I like with the Louis Vuitton logo,” Wood shares. For several iterations of  his scarves, Wood modeled the house’s logo on his signature orange basketball images and a ceramic object by his wife, the artist Shio Kusaka.

Looking forward, Louis Vuitton plans to continue elevating its presence with art. In London, the house recently reopened their flagship on New Bond Street after a year of renovations with an eye-catching Peter Marino architectural redesign. Inside, the house has covered its walls and floor space with art by industry heavyweights such as Sarah Crowner, Chris Martin, Donald Moffett, James Turrell, and Josh Sperling—a notable cultural undertaking which seeks to upgrade the standard brick-and-mortar experience.

A silk scarf featuring artwork by Sol LeWitt. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

A silk scarf featuring artwork by Sol LeWitt. Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton.

And on October 30, Louis Vuitton opened a new flagship in Seoul, Korea, designed by Peter Marino and Frank Gehry. Situated in the trendy Gangnam district, the curved-glass, multifloor structure—Gehry’s first building in Korea, created in homage to the country’s famous 18th-century Hwaseong Fortress—features an exclusive exhibition of sculptures by Giacometti for the season and a permanent collection of works by artists including Brendan Smith, Luigi Mainolfi, and Marcello Lo Guidice.

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