In September 2015, Judith Clark’s museum for Louis Vuitton was opened to the public. The installation is a fragmentary account of Louis Vuitton’s history through 400 objects and documents, chosen from the house’s archive of 26,000 objects and 165,000 items of paper ephemera. Among the objects at the new gallery space, which is located just outside Paris are trunks from the 1800s to the present day, clothing accessories and footwear.
Each of the individually cast plaster and wood units frame precious pieces from the archive, creating resonances across the collection that includes not only the company’s idiosyncratically gathered history, but reflecting the family’s own collecting policy – so a medieval trunk might sit next to a mini-malle handbag from 2015.
The route through ‘La Galerie’ is imagined as a game that is impossible to complete. Each theme is built as a piece of a jigsaw puzzle inspired by the shapes of Gaston Louis Vuitton’s game, the Pateki, which he designed in the 1930s
The relationship between craftsman and client is reinvented with every innovation in the company’s history. We find early trunks, morphed for different modes of travel, the first patents logged at early International Expos, as well as the exquisite graphics of calligraphic trials for the inlay for client’s personalized ‘necessaires’ or shop display. The clients, from Hollywood divas to fearless explorers created challenging demands, and modern technology created the means of finding solutions.
The exhibition space is located on the historic Louis Vuitton grounds where, in 1859, the family built a workshop, reserving one floor of the building as their home, and where made-to-order items are still manufactured.
“We wanted it to be perceived very much as a gallery intervention,” Clark said during a preview tour of the venue. “It’s like an installation reflecting on the idea of exhibiting the Vuitton archive. It’s intended to be kind of slightly disruptive in that way.”