I thought I should really give the Vuitton thing a rest, until another designer-branded press release hit my inbox yesterday from the Brooklyn Museum: Turns out that “special items, created by Takashi Murakami as part of the latest collaboration with Louis Vuitton, …will be auctioned during the gala dinner to benefit the Brooklyn Museum.” Maybe the Metropolitan Museum should learn from this and market designer dresses at its next Costume Institute benefit.
Murakami designed an album cover (above) and a website for Kanye West, so it should come as no surprise that the rapper will be performing at the museum gala, known as the Brooklyn Ball.
In the meantime, an important curator from a major non-New York City museum (who, alas, insists on anonymity) sent me this corrective note regarding my handbag hangups:
If the artists that we deem worthy of retrospectives in
big museums are working with Vuitton et al., what I wonder (assuming that we still all believe in the show without Vuitton) is why
NOT make money on the handbags?Only better would be if the museum organized all the
counterfeiters from Canal Street to set up just outside the show and
sell for $20 the same bag that the museum had just sold to the
exhibition-goer for $400 (and it usually is REALLY the same bag, made
in the same factory, just not marketed through LVMH). Wouldn’t that
be a complete Warholian come-around?
Sorry, Circumspect Curator, you cannot touch one of those plasticized canvas handbags for a mere $400. Maybe a coin purse. You can also forget about inviting those canny counterfeiters: Part of the Brooklyn/Murakami/Vuitton nexus includes “a special one-night-only Louis Vuitton performance [?!?] in support of the protection of intellectual property. This performance is an unprecedented and daring way to bring attention to the serious issue of counterfeiting and our global responsibility to protect artists and designers’ creativity and creations.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Where is Rudy Giuliani when we really need him? Actually, Vuitton’s got him covered too:
Louis Vuitton plans to donate a portion of the revenues generated at the Louis Vuitton store within the Brooklyn Museum on the evening of the Gala to the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation.
Now if they can only find a way to placate Nicolai Ouroussoff. The honoree of Brooklyn Ball is real estate developer Bruce Ratner, whose company, Forest City Ratner, was just taken to task by the NY Times architecture critic for “a betrayal of public trust” in planning (for economic reasons) to downsize Frank Gehry‘s “bold ensemble of buildings” for Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards—a move that Ouroussoff declared would “only confirm our darkest suspicions about the cynical calculations underlying New York real estate deals.” Isn’t he the same guy who’s taking the N.J. Nets out of my home state?
Personally, I think the logo-centric LV should take some fashion cues from another purveyor of luxury handbags, Bottega Veneta. Ruth La Ferla noted in yesterday’s NY Times that “the muted logo-free look that is the [BV] brand’s signature is widely
regarded as the standard-bearer for a new kind of luxury: subtle,
long-lasting and recession-proof.”
Not to mention spoof-proof.
You might think from all this that I don’t like Murakami’s art. I do. And I thought that the show at its first venue, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, was terrific (except for its Vuitton boutique). I just can’t go for the part that co-opts museums as shameless corporate marketing tools. That might be what this artist is about, but it’s not an appropriate role for a nonprofit museum, no matter what mischievous designs Murakami and Vuitton may have on institutional ethics.