For La Prairie, 2021 Was Defined by the Beauty of Art Collaborations and a Sense of Blue

Clearly, La Prairie’s patronage of the arts is much more than skin-deep. In 2021, the luxury Swiss skincare brand supported a range of cultural initiatives; from New York and Miami to London and Switzerland, each was as memorable as the next.

In May, when Frieze made its return to New York for the first time since 2019, La Prairie teamed up with Hong Kong and Berlin–based new media artist Carla Chan, whose practice explores the notion of time, inviting viewers to palpably witness and reflect on its passage. Her contemplative Frieze New York commission, Space Between The Light Glows, was inspired by the ever-changing sunlight during her recent stay at the Monte Rosa Hut, La Prairie’s very first residency, situated in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

The Monte Rosa Hut, La Prairie’s new art residency in the Swiss Alps. Courtesy of La Prairie.

“I am interested in creating a feeling of ambiguity, which allows the audience to wander in their own thoughts and imagination,” Chan said in a statement from the brand. “In this particular piece for La Prairie, I try to play with light and shadow, to fill in the imaginative space between the lights to leave a trace of nature.” The video installation recalled sun-dappled Swiss landscapes; without a clear sense of space or time, it created a much-needed moment of respite for fairgoers.

In the meantime, across town, one of MoMA PS1’s most adored exhibitions of the year came to life with integral support from La Prairie. “Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life” brought together more than 200 works from the legendary French-American multimedia artist. With its diverse array of sculpture, drawings, videos, and paintings, the retrospective stood out as an overdue look at her highly influential and ahead-of-its-time oeuvre.

Niki de Saint Phalle, <i>L'Estrella Carta No. XVII (The Star)</i>, 1997. © 2021 Niki Charitable Art Foundation.

Niki de Saint Phalle, L’Estrella Carta No. XVII (The Star), 1997. © 2021 Niki Charitable Art Foundation.

“Several years ago, I was doing research on women artists who made large-scale work and realized that Niki de Saint Phalle was really one of the first women artists to embark on such a monumental scale,” said the show’s curator, Ruba Katrib, in an interview with La Prairie. “Looking into this aspect of her practice further, I learned more about her ground-breaking strategies for realizing her artistic visions, all of which require a holistic approach between concept and the modes of production.”

“Structures for Life” showcased de Saint Phalle’s steadfast attempts to spark joy, despite her traumatic upbringing and an adult life marked by emotional turmoil. The artist’s works elicit a duality that honors the importance of playfulness, while also drawing attention to social and political issues.

Niki de Saint Phalle, <i>Flaçon de parfum</i>, 1982. © 2021 Niki Charitable Art Foundation.

Niki de Saint Phalle, Flaçon de Parfum, 1982. © 2021 Niki Charitable Art Foundation.

A cunning businesswoman, de Saint Phalle funded her practice through many out-of-the-box enterprises. One such initiative proved highly influential for La Prairie: the artist’s own perfume, Flacon de Parfum. Set in the same cobalt blue that graces many of de Saint Phalle’s works, the bottle’s color was the direct inspiration for the design of La Prairie’s Skin Caviar collection.

Meanwhile, since 2017, La Prairie has lent its platform to emerging artists at Art Basel fairs around the globe. This year, the house staged activations during the Basel, Switzerland and Miami editions.

The Skin Caviar collection uses the cobalt blue that graces many Niki de Saint Phalle artworks, also the inspiration for Maotik's recent La Prairie commission. Courtesy of La Prairie.

The Skin Caviar collection uses the cobalt blue that graces many Niki de Saint Phalle artworks, also the inspiration for Maotik’s recent La Prairie commission. Courtesy of La Prairie.

For the Basel fair in September, as well as Frieze London the following month, French digital artist Mathieu Le Sourd—also known as Maotik—was tapped to create Sense of Blue, an immersive installation that plummeted viewers into the dark of night. Using the same cobalt blue made famous by de Saint Phalle and adopted by La Prairie, Maotik’s virtual and augmented reality work allowed viewers’ movements to alter their environment through a shifting façade of light.

And this month, at Art Basel Miami Beach, La Prairie hosted its latest artist commission—Wen Chi Su’s Moving Towards the Horizon, which the Taiwanese dancer, choreographer, and new media artist performed on the sands of Miami Beach.

Wen Chi Su, <em>Moving Towards the Horizon</em>, commissioned by La Prairie for Art Basel Miami Beach. Courtesy of La Prairie.

Wen Chi Su, Moving Towards the Horizon, commissioned by La Prairie for Art Basel Miami Beach. Courtesy of La Prairie.

Su’s performance, which took place as the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean, encapsulated the effect of light against water. Inspired by a trip she took in the summer of 2021 to study lakes across La Prairie’s home country of Switzerland, the artist physically embodied the natural elements, creating a sense of “liquidity” through her dynamic movements.

Many of La Prairie’s artistic endeavors have lives that extend beyond one-time experiences. Such is the case in their ongoing conservation project with Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland’s most visited museum, to restore four seminal works by Piet Mondrian, created between 1921 and 1938: Tableau No. I; Composition with Yellow and Blue; Composition with Double Line and Blue; Lozenge Composition with Eight Lines and Red.

With Switzerland's Fondation Beyeler, La Prairie has supported the restoration of fourPiet Mondrian masterpieces. Courtesy of La Prairie.

With Switzerland’s Fondation Beyeler, La Prairie has supported the restoration of fourPiet Mondrian masterpieces. Courtesy of La Prairie.

With La Prairie’s support, the institution has employed a renowned team of researchers, scientific experts, and Mondrian scholars from the Kunstmuseum in The Hague, which houses the world’s largest collection of the Dutch painter’s works. The project began in 2017 and will culminate in a major retrospective of the Mondrian masterpieces at Fondation Beyeler next year.

Markus Gross, the institution’s chief conservator, said in an interview with La Prairie, “This unique opportunity to give something back to the world of art and culture, and also pay homage to the brand’s artistic heritage—greatly inspired by Mondrian’s minimalist aesthetic, geometric precision, and purity of form—is unrivaled.”

Just as Mondrian daringly explored the fundamental elements of art, the emerging artists that La Prairie champions today are also fearless innovators in their fields. With its ongoing efforts to help push the boundaries of culture, the brand promises to broaden and bolster the canon for years to come.

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