Paris is always a great idea. Not only because of the freshly baked buttery croissants but because of the endless art exhibitions that enlighten the city. Home of the Mona Lisa, the French capital has that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that continuously inspires artists and fascinates art admirers who, like me, will always find an excuse to see the Eiffel Tower one more time. The city was calling and there I was.

On this occasion, I attended Icons of Modern Art, a private exhibition curated by the Louise Vuitton Foundation showcasing an endless list of modern art paintings and installations: Monet, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, you name it. The French House put a great effort behind this collection and the truth is that the foundation has become a centre for artistic creation taking the brand culture to a whole new level; art patronage if you will.

The Foundation Louis Vuitton building, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is a piece of art on its own. Beautiful, complex and with a futuristic touch, it creates the perfect atmosphere for creative inspiration. In fact, looking at the construction from a bird’s-eye view, the building looks like an art capsule, keeping all the treasures from the past and ready to transport heritage to the future.

Mardi gras (Pierrot et Arlequin), Paul Cézanne, 1888-1890

Walking into the exhibition a series of self-portraits flanked the entrance of a collection that promised to be unique. Subject and technique came together in those paintings to forge the identity of the emerging body of work. It all began with Cezanne, who in Picasso’s words was “the father of us all”. Followed by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso and Derain sitting one opposite the other on the walls, spying each other in a room full of colour and silent thoughts.

The second installation was rather unique, adding a modern twist to the collection. Shrouded in darkness the room was silent and still until it steadily started to light up. A visual interpretation of Le Danse and La Musique appeared in a surprising multiscreen video installation. It was art in movement, an intriguing visual poem, and possibly the most surreal thing I have ever seen. The dance was followed by an imaginary dialogue between Henri Matisse and Sergei Shchukin, the Russian collector that commissioned the famous paintings.

La danseuse dans l’atelier du photographe, Edgar Degas, 1875

And then I saw you. The room was crowded, full of tourists taking pictures, shouting, and I remember walking in and feeling like all that remained was you, me and deep silence. My eyes scanning every single brush, so subtle and delicate. Colour notes playing like music, I could see you dancing…

Vue de Collioure, Henri Matisse, 1905

It was the first time I’d seen a Degas and I totally fell in love with La danseuse dans l’atelier du photographe. Probably not the most famous painting in an exhibition full of Picasso, Monet and Matisse, but that is what art is about and for some reason that painting got under my skin.

It’s definitely a priceless exhibition not to be missed. It finishes on the 5 March so go on, book your Eurostar and au revoir!

*All images courtesy of the Louis Vuitton Foundation

Laura Roig Vericat

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