ART HOUSE: French department store chain Galeries Lafayette hosted a cocktail at its Paris flagship on Monday night to celebrate the fourth edition of its annual “Windows on Art” project, which this year has been extended to other cities for the first time. From July 9 to Aug. 4, Galeries Lafayette stores in Paris, Marseille, Nantes and Strasbourg will display works on loan from leading art institutions.
The Paris lineup features top museums like the Centre Pompidou alongside small independent venues like Le Bal. Newcomers also include the Galliera Museum, which is using the forum to showcase its current Cristóbal Balenciaga exhibition.
Guillaume Houzé, director of patronage and image at Galeries Lafayette, said the window displays were a way of establishing a connection with customers beyond shopping. “They don’t just come here to buy things, they come to read current tastes and get a feel for what’s out there,” he said, as a jazz trio entertained passersby.
Houzé is a descendant of the store’s founder and, together with his grandmother Ginette Moulin, has established a large private collection from which items are regularly displayed at the Galerie des Galeries, an exhibition space inside the Paris department store.
His next project is even more ambitious: Houzé is working on opening a Galeries Lafayette foundation in the Marais district by 2014. “It will be more of a laboratory of ideas than a traditional foundation,” he said of the space, which will be dedicated to art, fashion and design.
In the meantime, he continues to fund up-and-coming galleries and support artists. Houzé said his favorite recent work was British artist Ryan Gander’s “I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorize (The Invisible Pull), 2012,” which Galeries Lafayette helped to commission and produce at this year’s Documenta art fair in Kassel, Germany. “It’s a current of air,” he said of the work, created using industrial fans.