LV The Book

Spirit of Travel

He is Louis Vuitton’s soul-mate. With his camera and his boyhood dreams slung over his shoulder, Jean Larivière crisscrosses the globe on a quest for the elusive ideal image – one that captures water, earth, sky… and the spirit of travel. Portrait of an alchemist and adventurer.
“The wilds of Patagonia, 1989. This was the first time I thought of introducing vintage toys in a photograph, which would become one of the themes of my work for Louis Vuitton. I shot the side-car in black and white on stony ground. Note, above all, that the products have disappeared from the image. All that is left is the LV on the side-car. It was very daring at the time. The photo is now in a museum, in the collection of the Pompidou Center.”
“This is one of my most famous images. Its originality comes from the fact that it seems to have no background, like a studio photo taken outdoors. I waited for days to find the right light to achieve that effect. It occurs when, on one side of Lake Inle in Burma, the sun comes out behind a mountain range, and then the sky and the water seem to merge. Once I had found the light, I needed to find the right oarsmen. Not to mention the boat. The one I had my eye on, a majestic craft used to transport the tooth of the Buddha, could not take a woman on board. So I had to go for something smaller.”
“On Lake Inle, Burma, in 1997, I photographed a hot-air balloon marked with the LV initials. I had it made in a small town in the region which specialized in paper articles. I invited monks from the monastery of jumping cats (yes, their specialty was training cats to jump through hoops!) to come along. They built a raft on which I set up a Shan orchestra, which played through the night as the team finalized its preparations. As dawn broke, we were ready, and the hot-air balloon took off.”
“This photo was taken off Hong Kong in 1986. It is one of a series of nine works around the theme of Halley’s Comet, for which I created a whole narrative, like a fairytale. Here, a young boy is waiting for night to fall so that he can see the comet pass.”

“From 1978, I shot all Louis Vuitton campaigns in panoramic format, which seems to me to lend itself best to the ethos of travel, capturing vast spaces in all their grandeur. These five images are representative of my work for the House: shot all over the world, in Ladakh, Rajasthan, and Chile. The last photo is part of a series entitled ‘The Expedition’. I wanted to depict a rocket landing on a planet in a solar system other than our own. We looked for a place with a real impact crater, like on the Moon. We found it in Chile after walking for five hours through rocky terrain. I put a pictogram of Monogram canvas on the toy rocket. On the left of the picture, just out of frame, are the ruins of an Inca habitat, since this site was close to the high trail of the Incas.”

“In Tibet, near a lake at altitude, I encountered a group of lamas. I explained to them with drawings and sign language that they came from the Moon! I have always been fascinated by Tibet – a country where people believe in reincarnation and practice levitation… They very kindly agreed to wear these astronaut helmets and small Louis Vuitton backpacks.”
“Comets are, by their very nature, the greatest travelers of all. Just before Halley’s Comet was due to appear, I was leaving the Louis Vuitton family home in Asnières by a back door, which was unusual, and I found myself in ‘rue de la Comète’. That had to be a sign! The coincidence inspired me to create a series of works as part of an almost mythological narrative. I imagined the comet as a young girl traveling around the world with the LV logo in her arms. In one image, she bids goodbye to Planet Earth by leaving her LV on the side of a mountain. The shoot took place by moonlight on the Maïdo volcanic peak in Réunion."
“For ten years at the start of my career, I worked on a cinematic research project entitled Never/Always. In graphic terms, it contains everything I developed later on. I experimented with a whole range of techniques, mixing various methods, including photograms, photographs defined by line drawings, tracing etc. The idea was to capture the space-time between two images. So I was selling the time that had elapsed between one image and the next, as here.”

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Jean Larivière Visual Art