"We're not giving answers, we're asking questions," says Suzanne Pagé, Fondation Louis Vuitton's Artistic Director and curator of the new exhibition. While you can sense Pagé's nervousness at the exhibition's opening, her cohesive collection, curated on a tiny budget and housed in a tight exhibition space at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, speaks volumes about her eye and expertise.
Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Fondation Louis Vuitton building officially opened in 2014 with the aim of promoting contemporary art for French and international audiences. With Les Clefs d'une Passion, Pagé has set out to showcase contemporary art's history by unfolding it across four sequences: subjective expressionism, contemplative, popiste and music. Interestingly, the exhibition isn't sorted chronologically or displayed according to art movement. Popular expressionist painting The Scream by Edvard Munch sits near Claude Monet's Water Lilies in a perfect contrast of modern experiences. Piet Mondrian's colourful dune imagery, Fernand Léger's Three Women and Picasso's contemplative figures offer a positive take on contemporary life. Henri Matisse's Dance shows how music and movement can be captured perfectly in paint. Together, these master works weave a story of contemporary life.
While the breadth of famous artists is astounding, what's even more incredible is the exhibition's accessibility to its audience - it offers something for art virgins right through to connoisseurs. Unusually for an art space, visitors are actively encouraged to take photos and post them to Instagram.
In addition to the greats, Pagé has included artists who are not so well known, such as Finnish painter Helene Schjerfbeck and Czech painter and graphic artist František Kupka. This melting pot of artists, both famous and not so much, are what makes Les Clefs d'une Passion so intriguing.
While critics may argue that the exhibition is simply a way to make money, we think the incredibly diverse collection, which most likely won't be shown together like this again, is more in the vein of humanistic PR. The exhibition tells an important story about contemporary art and in doing so reveals something about what it is to be human in the modern age.
Planning a trip to Paris? Les Clefs d'une Passion runs until July 6, 2015. Visit fondationlouisvuitton.fr for more info.