Patron of the project and president of the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation
My family has a long-standing commitment to philanthropy, expressed through the Boustany Foundation and many other initiatives. For my part, this philanthropic path has led through art, ever since the powerful work of the British artist Francis Bacon erupted into my life. During a visit to the Tate Gallery, while studying in London, I found myself confronted with one of his disturbing triptychs which triggered in me the need to explore his oeuvre. I have been immersed in his work, life and painting practice for more than twenty years. In 2014, this led me to create the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation in Monaco, a non-profit foundation dedicated to the artist.
Today, my patronage of the École du Louvre forms part of this same philanthropic approach. Following a first partnership with the School in 2016 with the creation of a Francis Bacon research scholarship, I am now delighted to support the project ‘ÉCOLE DU LOUVRE 2021-2022’. This ambitious architectural project will undoubtedly give the School a vital asset for its future and become an essential tool for its students and educators.
INTERVIEW WITH MAJID BOUSTANY
What are your connections with the École du Louvre?
In 2016, through my foundation — the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation Monaco — I entered into a partnership with the École du Louvre, under which, every four years, a research scholarship is awarded to a postgraduate from the school whose work relates to the painter Francis Bacon or which has a direct link with the artist.
That same year, I was invited to give a lecture at the École du Louvre on ‘Francis Bacon, Monaco and French culture’, to coincide with the Bacon exhibition organised by the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, under the aegis of my foundation.
These early collaborations gave me the opportunity to discover a unique and fascinating institution, adjoining the greatest museum in the world, closely connected with other major museums, and offering a unique educational model with teachers passionate about their mission.
How did you become the patron of this project?
Through my first partnership with the École du Louvre, I met Claire Barbillon, who took over as Director of the School in 2017. I was immediately impressed by her singular career, her passion for sharing knowledge and her ambitions for the future of the school. I had long discussions with her and with her team on various subjects relating to art, the school, her pedagogy, her plans and her students. When, in 2018, she told me about her aspiration to launch a major programme of works at the heart of the Palais du Louvre, at the Aile de Flore site, to include the redevelopment and refurbishment of the library and its documentation and IT services, and the creation of a research centre, I was immediately captivated by this visionary project. Soon after, I offered to support the entire project.
I must also admit that my decision to fund this ambitious programme stems too from my passion for that most Francophile of British artists: Francis Bacon. He lived and worked in Paris and was a regular visitor to the Paris museums, and the Louvre in particular. Indeed, some of his own paintings were inspired by works in the Louvre. This direct encounter with works of art — which is a fundamental principle of studying history of art at the École du Louvre — was at the heart of his working practice.
As part of this project, you have donated several artworks to the École du Louvre. Could you tell us more about that?
By donating artworks to the School’s library, I wished to bring art into this place that is central to student life. Two sculptures by the British artist Antony Gormley — Witness VII and Witness VIII — now inhabit this space dedicated to study and research, and a large easel which belonged to Francis Bacon and comes from his Paris studio, stands in the library hallway.
Moreover, to complete this first donation, I also gifted to the School for its great hall Jaujard two works by French artists of international renown: a sculpture by César, a bronze entitled La Marseillaise (1997) and a work by François Morellet, π baroco n°2 bleu, 1=45° (angles du même côté), 7 éléments, 2001, a composition made of blue neon tubes, overhanging the stairs leading to the library, lecture theatres and classrooms.
What other philanthropic activities have you been involved with?
In 2014, I created the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation, a non-profit institution dedicated to promoting a better understanding of Francis Bacon’s work, life and creative process, with special focus on the period he spent living and working in Monaco and France. The Foundation’s philanthropic activities include providing support for research and artists, awarding a research scholarship to a doctoral student at the École du Louvre and a support scholarship to a graduate student of Villa Arson. The Foundation also supports publications and documentaries on Bacon and participates in exhibitions connected with the British painter, in collaboration with national and international institutions. Moreover, the Foundation is open all year round to researchers and art historians, as well as to the public for free guided tours.
In 2020, I created a dedicated fund within the Musée du Louvre Endowment Fund, directed towards the conservation and enhancement of the collections of this prestigious Paris institution. The income from this fund is destined to support the restoration of works at the Louvre admired by Bacon during his many visits, and some of which influenced his own work.
I also recently became patron of the École du Louvre Endowment Fund by making a donation to the capital to ensure the long-term continuation of its mission.
What do you hope to see this project achieve?
My dearest wish, today, is that this ambitious architectural project becomes a key strategic asset for the École du Louvre, enhancing its future national and international influence.