I have long been an admirer of the work of the Cartier Foundation. Now as we are able to look back at thirty years of this most inspired organisation, we can truly see the incredible vision of its founder Alain Dominique Perrin, its director Hervé Chandes and the hard work of my dear (and sadly departed) friend Sylvie Dumas who for many years provided the financial structure to enable the foundation to commission art without any boundaries.
Just looking through the names of the artists, the designers. the architects and film-makers that have created works for the Foundation is quite something, names that are from such diverse fields, who have come together under the roof of Cartier, where they were allowed to showcase their biggest and boldest dreams: David Lynch, Patti Smith, Matthew Barney, Marc Newson, Issey Miyake, John Cale, Bill Viola and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
In 1984 with the establishment of the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Cartier became the first company in Europe to employ direct commissioning. They talked to new and emerging artists as well as the world's biggest established talents. They challenged and they provoked. They questioned, they changed laws and they made their company better as a result. My own personal highlights have been Sarah Sze who was representing the American pavilion in the last Venice Biennale, Ron Mueck and his extraordinary realistic sculptures and the French sculptor Cesar famous for his "compressions".
The collection is ever developing and comprises an impressive 1300 works by over 350 artists from over 40 countries, housed in Jean Nouvel's stunning glass and steel building on the Boulevard Raspail. The building will be throwing open its doors to the public and inviting back some of its most exciting collaborators. The first part of the celebrations will be entitled Vivid Memories and will concentrate on the most iconic pieces in the collection - a unique opportunity to discover previously unseen works. The exhibition will present the different facets of the Foundation's history through invaluable archives, photographs, videos and film. Artists involved in the first part include David Lynch, Marc Newson, Cai Guo-Qiang, Peter Halley, Alessandro Mendini, Takeshi Kitano and Sarah Sze amongst others. A live and impromptu performance at the Foundation by The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed in 1990 features amongst the highlights presented on a giant LED screen designed especially by David Lynch.
Cartier has shown us all how the successful patronage of the arts can help a brand to focus it on what is new and what is important. It is a relationship that the rest of us can only hope to emulate. Today all serious brands know how important it is to link themselves to the contemporary art world. It is offering them a real anchor in what the world is considering as the leading force in creativity today. It gives them more credibility to be associated to artists who dedicate their life to their art, bringing a meaning and philosophy to our everyday life.
Cartier was definitely a precursor.
Karen Ruimy's new show ZIK'R: the mystical path of flamenco from India to Seville, will be at Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler's Wells on June 18. For tickets please call 0844 412 4300 or visit www.karenruimy.com