Bernard Arnault beamed proudly Monday night in Moscow as the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts lifted the veil on “Collection of Foundation Louis Vuitton: Selected Works,” an exhibition spanning 60 pieces of modern and contemporary art.
The luxury titan — with family members, Vuitton executives and brand ambassadors in tow — hosted a preview cocktail party and dinner that culminated with a Duran Duran concert.
The foundation’s art riches are being presented alongside another show devoted to the Shchukin Collection, the first version of which was held at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in 2016.
“I think it is a generous initiative from Monsieur Arnault, but it is normal considering Sergey Shchukin’s impact with the Fondation Louis Vuitton that we saw a few years ago, when the collection brought more than a million visitors,” enthused Natalia Vodianova, who is married to Berluti chief executive officer and LVMH executive Antoine Arnault.
Ever the philanthropist in her home country, the model noted that her Naked Heart Foundation, which helps underprivileged children in Russia, just celebrated its 15th anniversary and opened a new branch in Geneva.
Among government officials at the event was Vladimir Medinsky, minister of culture, who presided over the opening ceremony. “I would like to remark that the opening of the exhibition provided by the LVMH foundation is a sign of close and unbreakable cultural relations between France and Russia,” Arnault declared.
Among those taking in the paintings, sculptures and videos was actress Stacy Martin, in Russia for the first time and a bit bowled over.
“It is quite amazing. The architecture is so dynamic, the buildings are so different. You have extremely modern buildings melding with traditional buildings like the St. Basil Church,” she said.
Martin recently confronted her fears by completing “The Night House” opposite Rebecca Hall, but horror films still give her the heebie-jeebies. “I can’t even watch trailers because they creep me out so much. I thought, the only way to cure a phobia is to just tackle it head on,” she said with a nervous laugh.
After the cocktail and speeches, guests repaired to dinner, where Russian chef Vladimir Mukhin and French chef Yannick Alleno conceived the sumptuous meal, while Ukrainian classical pianist Alexander Romanovsky provided the music. The evening ended at Strelka Bar on the Moscow River Embankment, where Alicia Vikander was among those eager for the concert to start.
“I am a big fan of the Eighties. I like Duran Duran,” she said, noting that her Louis Vuitton dress by Nicolas Ghesquière winked to that era and was “the perfect match with this event.”
No stranger to Russia, the actress shot “Anna Karenina” in St. Petersburg about eight years ago, and she visits Moscow occasionally. “I love Moscow and Russian food,” she said. “I am from Sweden and I love pickles and salmon.”
The Vuitton foundation billed the Pushkin exhibition, open through September 29, as one of its most important off-site presentations since it opened in a bespoke Frank Gehry building in Paris in 2014. Artists in the show include Alberto Giacometti, Yves Klein, Isa Genzken, Maurizio Cattelan, Wolfgang Tillmans, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andreas Gursky, Bertrand Lavier, Pierre Huyghe, Marina Abramovic, Dan Flavin, Tacita Dean, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Christian Boltanski.