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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has been a key feature of the Manhattan landscape since 1939. It is particularly renowned for being the home of modern art, but some say the building’s iconic architecture alone, is worth the visit.
Originally called the “Museum of Non-Objective Painting”, it was established by mining heir, Solomon R. Guggenheim, with ‘Non-Objective’ art styles as the original focus – an ethos that still rings true today.
(On a side note ‘Non-Objective Art’ is also commonly referred to as ‘Abstract art’. It strives to create visual works free from worldly references i.e “look at this realistic tree I painted”, and prefers to explore other interests such as form, colour and line.)
The Museum of Non-Objective Painting started out in rented quarters on East 54th Street in New York City. By 1943 it had grown in size, leading to Solomon R. Guggenheim and then art adviser, Hilla Rebay, to write to Frank Lloyd Wright requesting a building be designed that better suited the growing demand.
The museum changed its name to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (popularly referred to as ‘the Guggenheim’) in honor of its founder in 1954, and in 1959, ten years after Guggenheim’s death and six months after Wright’s, the current building was finally opened to the public. This put an end to the sixteen year wait and thousands of visitors flocked the streets to get a first look at the impressive new structure.
“The building rises as a warm beige spiral from its site on Fifth Avenue; its interior is similar to the inside of a seashell. Its unique central geometry was meant to allow visitors to easily experience Guggenheim’s collection of nonobjective geometric paintings by taking an elevator to the top level and then viewing artworks by walking down the slowly descending, central spiral ramp, which features a floor embedded with circular shapes and triangular light fixtures to complement the geometric nature of the structure.” source
Though the Guggenheim building is now touted as a monument to architectural brilliance, at the time it was at the centre of much controversy. Many critics claimed its grandiose design distracted from the beauty of the artworks on display.
In 2011, there were a staggering 1 million visitors recorded at the museum, making it one of the most significant cultural hot-spots in the world. Along with its seasonal exhibitions, the Guggenheim is currently the home of Justin Thannhauser‘s art collection. This exhibit alone includes masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh.
The Guggenheim now has locations in Venice, Bilbao and Abu Dhabi; however if you live or are planning a trip to New York City, take a look at the Guggenheim’s NY museum Calander to get an idea of what will be showing throughout the year.
“An internationally renowned art museum and one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum is at once a vital cultural center, an educational institution, and the heart of an international network of museums. Visitors can experience special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, lectures by artists and critics, performances and film screenings, classes for teens and adults, and daily tours of the galleries led by experienced docents. Founded on a collection of early modern masterpieces, the Guggenheim Museum today is an ever-growing institution devoted to the art of the 20th century and beyond.” Source
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