Our historical engagement
Aristide and Marguerite Boucicaut, the visionary founders of Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, called on talented architects, designers and engineers to build their iconic stores and organise their events.
1869 to 1872 saw the initial store construction phase led by Alexandre Laplanche (1839 – 1910), which drew on a fairly traditional architecture consisting of stone walls, timber frames, millstone subsoil and Lerouville stone-cladded facades.
1872 to 1905: Le Bon Marché embarked on around thirty years of building (in four separate eras) and underwent a significant architectural transformation spearheaded by the Boileau dynasty of architects.
1972 - 1978: Louis-Auguste Boileau (1812 – 1896) and his son Louis-Charles Boileau (1873 – 1914)
worked in conjunction with engineers Armand Moisant (1838 – 1906) - who was responsible for the Grand Palais - and, in 1879,
Gustave Eiffel (1832 – 1923), constructing the building that would extend from rue de Sèvres to rue Velpeau.
A longstanding proponent of ironwork structures , Louis-Auguste Boileau unveiled a real technical innovation
that Le Bon Marché could rightfully use to call itself the first "department store" without partitions, opening
out onto large spaces and superbly enhanced by enormous twin glass canopies.
1979 – 1905: Le Bon Marché’s subsequent construction programmes, particular the phase between 1979 and 1887
led by Louis-Charles Boileau, saw the store expand its surface area to 46,500m2, flanked on all four sides
by rue de Sèvres, rue de Velpeau, rue du Bac and rue de Babylone.
Arts and culture at the heart of the store
1915: Following a fire, Louis-Hippolyte Boileau (1878 – 1948), son of Louis-Charles Boileau, oversaw construction of a second store started in 1912 at rue de Sèvre (where La Grande Epicerie de Paris now stands) in a resolutely Art Deco style.
1923 – 1926 : End of la Grande Epicerie de Paris construction and le Bon Marché Rive Gauche modernisation and
renovation by Louis-Hippolyte Boileau.
1990: A spectacular escalator was installed in the heart of the store, the work of the famous international designer Andrée Putnam.
Straddling tradition and modernity, the escalator is flanked on both sides by the same tile patterns used in the store’s historic glass canopies.
2012-2017: Renovation of la Grande Epicerie de Paris in 2012. The mosaic artist Mathilde Jonquière designed and produced several fresco patterns for the various food departments of La Grande Epicerie de Paris on both the Left Bank and the Right Bank opened in 2017.
2010 – currently: Important spaces modernisation at le Bon Marché Rive Gauche: Man section (2010), Accessories (2013), Woman fashion and lingerie (2017), Children department (2019).
In 1867, Aristide Boucicaut took it upon himself to launch a range of cultural activities for children by organising theatrical performances in the store itself. In doing so, he considerably boosted the store's reputation and in 1973 formed an orchestra of 220 musicians and choristers, directed by commanders of the Republican Guard. Two years later, he opened the Fine Art Gallery, where painters and sculptors not permitted to take part in the capital’s official painting and sculpture fair were able to exhibit their work. From the end of the 1980s onwards, Le Bon Marché ramped up its commitment to the arts by holding regular cultural exhibitions with contemporary guest artists and creators from the design, music, cinema, fashion and visual arts fields, at various points in the year. Karl Lagerfeld (2003), Martin Parr (2005), Guy Bourdin (2009), Ellen Von Unwerth (2010), Sofia Coppola (2010), Charlotte Perriand (2011), Bryan Ferry (2011), Le Corbusier (2012), Marjane Satrapi (2012), Catherine Deneuve (2012), Robert Doisneau (2013), Pedro Varela (2013), Proenza Schouler (2014), Tadao Ando (2014), Iris Apfel (2016) and Edoardo Tresoldi (2017) are just a few of those who have been invited to be part of the cultural exhibitions at Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche
The Rive Gauche collection
To further emphasise its commitment to young creators, 1999 saw Le Bon Marché launch an exhibition space called “L’Entrée sur l’Art Contemporain”. This development attracted various emerging artists such as Baptiste Debombourg (2013), Micky Clément (2013), Vincent Chenut (2014), Lyndi Sales (2014), Sakir Gokcebag (2015), Ana Tortos (2017) and Toqué Frères (2017), all of whom have exhibited their work in the “L’Entrée sur l’Art Contemporain” space, which is currently situated on the ground floor, accessible from the rue du Bac and rue de Babylone entrances. Since 2016, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche has consolidated its commitment to contemporary art by inviting a major contemporary artist from the international scene and giving them free rein to exhibit their latest art works at the beginning of the year. Artists Ai Weiwei, Chiharu Shiota and Leandro Erlich all produced original creations that were displayed as part of this event. The format for these exhibitions allows for ample creative freedom; the works produced specially for the occasion feature prominently as immense installations that dialogue with the surrounding architecture, while creating a place where artists and the public can come together and foster wider understanding.
Officially, the support given to plastic arts was first introduced by the Paintings and Sculptures Fine Art Gallery created in 1875, and was the forerunner for future acquisitions of paintings and sculptures by contemporary artists, donated from 1989 onwards. The contemporary art collection comprises paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures dating from 1949 to 2015, by artists such as César, Valério Adami, Claude Viallat, Etienne-Martin and Nicolas Chardon, as well as Fiona Rae, Marc Desgrandchamps and Anthony Caro.The opening of the Pomone workshop in the second store (currently La Grande Epicerie de Paris) in 1923 was testament to the enthusiasm at that time for decorative art furnishings.
It was managed by French decorators who largely underpinned the decorative arts movement: cabinet maker Paul Follot (1877 – 1941), and later the furniture designer René Prou (1889 – 1974). The Pomone interior design workshop devised furnishings and a range of accessories, including furniture, drapes, carpets and lighting for every room in the house, all in an Art Deco style, harnessing geometric patterns and noble materials. Le Bon Marché’s involvement in and support for the decorative arts was such that it went on to exhibit the work of Paul Follot in its Ponome pavilion, designed by Louis-Hippolyte Boileau for the international decorative and industrial arts exhibition in 1925. The modern aesthetic and rational lines of Paul Follot’s furnishings proved extremely popular and were distributed worldwide on the huge transatlantic liners of the era. To ensure that this heritage is not lost, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche has been compiling a collection of decorative arts since 2012, comprising the work of designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Françoise Knoll, Angelo Mangiarotti, Pierre Paulin, Nika Zupanc and Pierre Gonalons. The collection’s decorative art furnishings from 1930 to 2017 are on show in every department of the Le Bon Marché group’s stores. Regularly updated with new works of art and decorative art furnishings, the Rive Gauche collection aims to entrench its ongoing commitment to artistic creation in modern times.