Conspicuous or visionary, what purpose do art foundations pursue?

Aymeric Mantoux

By Aymeric Mantoux10 août 2021

The inauguration of Maja Hoffmann’s Luma Foundation in Arles last June 26 has been as much of a debate as the renewal of the Bourse de Commerce of Paris by billionaire and art collector François Pinault, a few days earlier. Our analysis.

The Luma Foundation in Arles designed by the architect Frank Gehry (Adriande Weerdt)

The crowd was dense in Arles end of June at the inauguration of American architect, Frank Gehry’s tower. Every gallerist, collector, curator, and artist of the cultural world was eager to be alongside Maja Hoffmann, 65, collector and Swiss patron. Her immense fortune was inherited from pharmaceutical laboratories Hoffmann-La Roche created by her great-grand-father in 1896. 200 million euros were necessary to see her dream come to life, along with years of significant construction works. The Arles-native at heart is related to Camargue by her father, a former great advocate of biodiversity in the region (he enabled Camargue with the Tour du Valat in 1954, a research center focused on humid regions of the Mediterranean). He also offered his love of art, as Luc Hoffmann was the main contributor to the Vincent van Gogh foundation in Arles.

Maja Hoffmann (Annie Leibovitz)

Ever more visible architectural signatures

Then why create an eight-floor, 56-meter-high tower including 11,000 reflective steel panels in a location as horizontal as its surrounding planes? Need we remind what star architect Jean Nouvel claimed a few years back: “We are ending up with heterogenous buildings, sorts of scrap books, of similar mirrored faces on the whole planet”?

The Luma Arles foundation (Iwan Baan)

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