It has been 380 years since Nicolas Poussin created his masterpiece The Triumph of Pan. Precisely halfway between that day and this, Louis Vuitton founded the House that bears his name. Today, another historic creative name, Jeff Koons, standard bearer of the neo-pop movement, brings the icons together to mark the return home of Louis Vuitton. The Poussin tranche of Koons’ collaboration with the historic House – the Masters Collection of Louis Vuitton products – presents three unique bags fashioned with the ultimate in artisanal excellence. Classic art meets timeless workmanship: a moving canvas for the modern age.
Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme, a new gem set in one of the most storied Parisian squares, brings two elegant townhouses together to create the most stylish of stores. How appropriate that this occasion (the doors opened just weeks ago, in October, after a five-year renovation) should be marked with an unique artistic statement. The jewel in the crown of the Masters Collection, created in collaboration, by Koons and Louis Vuitton, is the Poussin range of products exclusive to the legendary Place Vendôme Maison.
The Triumph of Pan is an undisputed classic of the French Baroque style, reminiscent of Titian and Raphael at their finest. Koons, officially the most valuable living artist, has recast the original for the Louis Vuitton Masters Collection, bringing the image out of the art gallery and on to the streets of Paris. “Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan has always been a painting that is rich in history,” enthuses Koons. “It is making reference to the power of nature, antique art, mythology, and to writers like Ovid. “This painting from the National Gallery in London has always been one of my favourite Poussins.”
Thanks to Koons and Louis Vuitton, this masterpiece is reproduced on three of the House’s most sought-after products: Speedy, Neverfull and Keepall. Fashioned with the ultimate attention to detail and utmost craftsmanship, which has become Louis Vuitton’s trademark over the past 160 years, these collectors’ items are exclusively offered in the Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme. An extravagance? Undoubtedly… yet one in the finest tradition of the House’s relationship with fine art, which dates back generations.
Poussin’s own artistic journey was stellar, taking him from Paris to Rome and back again, becoming First Painter to King Louis XIII. The Triumph of Pan was commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu himself. No fewer than 11 preliminary drawings bear witness to the immense attention to detail brought to bear by the greatest artist of his era. This same insistence on the best – and only the best – has characterised the collaboration between Koons and Louis Vuitton. As Koons says: “Louis Vuitton celebrates craft. The aim of this project is to be generous. When I spend so much time and effort on the surface of a sculpture or the refinement of a painting, it’s because I’m trying to communicate to the viewer that I care about them, and that all artistic endeavour, all communication, is based on trust. The care Louis Vuitton takes over craftsmanship says exactly the same.”
Louis Vuitton has engaged with the world of art since its inception in the mid-19th century. A series of high-profile collaborations with the most influential artists of our times has reaffirmed that commitment. Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson have worked with Louis Vuitton in recent years on commissioned artworks, the development of new products and the staging of fashion shows. This relationship culminated in 2014 with the opening of the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, a distinctive art museum designed by Frank Gehry. This second series of the Jeff Koons Masters collection builds on that well-established foundation, further exploring the intersection of fashion and art.