Louis Vuitton may have blossomed from artisanal leather luggagemaker to a global fashion powerhouse but it has never strayed far from its roots a pioneer of luxury travel. Its commitment to the cause has seen it launch the iconic 'Carnets de Voyage' guides, as well as the recent 'Objets Nomades' accessories collection - and now the brand is presenting an inspired vision of contemporary travel with a new collection of books, each volume a compelling visual journey told through the eyes of an artist.
Placing emphasis on popular cities, as much as far-flung locations, the inaugural global tour kicks off with four vibrant locales: New York, Paris, London and Easter Island, with Vietnam and Venice set to follow soon after. This is made all the more dynamic with the house’s pairing of artists to a city that is not their home: Frenchman Jean-Philippe Delhomme paints New York; Chéri Samba, a Congolese artist, investigates Paris; Japanese illustrator Natsko Seki envisions London; and American artist Daniel Arsham visits Easter Island.
In each tome, familiar and unexpected scenes are depicted with equal creative flourish. At Arsham’s hand, the historic statues of Easter Island take on a haunting, melancholic quality. In contrast, Samba’s otherworldly scenes of Paris are charged with political commentary. The fresh approach of pitching artist versus destination conveys the unique feeling of being on a journey with the artist while looking through his lens, making for captivating fodder cover to cover.
We caught up with illustrator (and occasional New Yorker) Jean-Philippe Delhomme, who put brush to paper to show us his vision of New York. He shared with us his favourite haunts, along with insight on what continues to make it the destination of choice for millions, year after year...
What attracted you to this project?
I've been traveling and working on different projects and clients in New York since the mid-1900s, having done several advertising campaigns for Barneys, and more recently working for clients like The Mark Hotel, and Sotheby's. I've always been very inspired by the city. In fact, it's difficult to find a place this exciting visually; the buildings, signs, the fact that it's by the water, and often industrial. Plus there is this incredible light. And of course, the tremendous variety of people and characters.
What characteristics about New York did you try to capture in your drawings?
The most impressive thing for an artist in New York is its sharp and violent light - and its shadows, the deepest I've seen in any city. There's also a certain melancholy and loneliness to New York that I like, and the sense that things are miraculously suspended in time but eroded by the weather. I love the remains of the Old New York – old storefronts, garage repairs shops, skyscrapers’ entrances. These things make the city a poetic space, and not just a global shopping experience.
What things about the city did you discover while working on the book?
Being so familiar to the city after many years, the challenge for me was to find or revisit places that I still find poetic and inspirational. I was happy to be able to visit Electric Lady Studios, which was created by Jimi Hendrix in the late sixties, just before he died. There are fantastic, cosmic murals commissioned by Hendrix and painted at the time by an artist, Lance Jost.
What are some of your new favourite places in New York that you found as a result of this project?
One of my favourite things is to hang out in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and go for a meal - there is the Lobster Pound in the day, and The Good Fork at night for dinner. These days I also like to go to Reynards in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg as well as walking around my studio in in Queens. The buildings, metal scrap yards, sidewalk car repairs are fantastic to paint as a landscape.