Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
F. L. WRIGHT 8
FACTS 16 HISTORY 9
ABOUT The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, is an art museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. The museum was established by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, under the guidance of its first director, the artist Hilla von Rebay. It adopted its current name after the death of its founder, Solomon R. Guggenheim, in 1952. In 1959, the museum moved from rented space to its current building, a landmark work of 20th-century architecture. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical building, wider at the top than the bottom, was conceived as a „temple of the spirit“. Its unique ramp gallery extends up from ground level in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building to end just under the ceiling skylight. The building underwent extensive expansion and renovations in 1992 and from 2005 to 2008. The museum‘s collection has grown organically, over eight decades, and is founded upon several important private collections, beginning with Solomon R. Guggenheim‘s original collection. The collection is shared with the museum‘s sister museums in Bilbao, Spain, and elsewhere. In 2013, nearly 1.2 million people visited the museum, and it hosted the most popular exhibition in New York City.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT Frank Lloyd Wright (born Frank Lincoln Wright, June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed. Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. Wright was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture and developed the concept of the Usonian home, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States.
Wright‘s work includes original and innovative examples of many building types. Wright also designed many of the interior elements of his buildings, such as the furniture and stained glass. Wright wrote 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. His colorful personal life often made headlines, most notably for the 1914 fire and murders at his Taliesin studio. Already well known during his lifetime, Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as „the greatest American architect of all time“.
HISTORY In June 1943, Frank Lloyd Wright received a letter from Hilla Rebay, the art advisor to Solomon R. Guggenheim, asking him to design a new building to house Guggenheim’s four-year-old Museum of Non-Objective Painting. The project evolved into a complex struggle pitting the architect against his clients, city officials, the art world, and public opinion. Both Guggenheim and Wright would die before the building’s 1959 completion. The resulting achievement testifies both to Wright’s architectural genius and to Rebay and Guggenheim’s adventurous spirit.
Wright made no secret of his disenchantment with Guggenheim’s choice of New York for his museum: “I can think of several more desirable places in the world to build his great museum,” Wright wrote in 1949 to Arthur Holden, “but we will have to try New York.” To Wright, the city was overbuilt, overpopulated, and lacked architectural merit. Still, he proceeded with his client’s wishes, considering several locations before settling on the present site on Fifth Avenue between 88th and 89th Streets. Its proximity to Central Park was key; as close to nature as one gets in New York, the park afforded relief from the noise and congestion of the city.
The Guggenheim Museum is an embodiment of Wright’s attempts to render the inherent plasticity of organic forms in architecture. His inverted ziggurat dispensed with the conventional approach to museum design, which led visitors through a series of interconnected rooms and forced them to retrace their steps when exiting. Instead, Wright whisked people to the top of the building via elevator, and led them downward at a leisurely pace on the gentle slope of a continuous ramp. The galleries were divided like the membranes in citrus fruit, with self-contained yet interdependent sections. The open rotunda afforded viewers the unique possibility of seeing several bays of work on different levels simultaneously. The spiral design recalled a nautilus shell, with continuous spaces flowing freely one into another. Even as it embraced nature, Wright’s design also expressed his unique take on modernist architecture’s rigid geometry. The building is a symphony of triangles, ovals, arcs, circles, and squares.
The meticulous vision took decades to be fulfilled. Originally, the large rotunda was to be accompanied by a small rotunda and a tower. The small rotunda (or monitor building, as Wright called it) was intended to house apartments for Rebay and Guggenheim but instead became offices and miscellaneous storage space. In 1965, the second floor of the building was renovated to display the museum’s growing permanent collection, and with the restoration of the museum in 1990–92, it was turned over entirely to exhibition space and rechristened the Thannhauser Building in honor of one of the most important bequests to the museum. Wright’s original plan for the tower—artists’ studios and apartments—went unrealized, largely for financial reasons. As part of the restoration, a 1968 office/art-storage tower (designed by Wright’s son-in-law William Wesley Peters) was replaced by the current tower, designed by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects, LLC. This structure provided four additional exhibition galleries and, some thirty-five years after the initiation of construction, completed Wright’s concept for the museum. In 2001, the Sackler Center for Arts Education opened to the public. Located just below the rotunda, this 8,200-square-foot education facility includes the Peter B. Lewis Theater, part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s original architectural design for the building.
From the architect. Swelling out towards the city of Manhattan, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was the last major project designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1943 until it opened to the public in 1959, six months after his death, making it one of his longest works in creation along with one of his most popular projects. Completely contrasting the strict Manhattan city grid, the organic curves of the museum are a familiar landmark for both art lovers, visitors, and pedestrians alike. The exterior of the Guggenheim Museum is a stacked white cylinder of reinfored concrete swirling towards the sky. The museum‘s dramatic curves of the exterior, however, had an even more stunning effect on the interior. Inside Wright proposed „one great space on a continuous floor,“ and his concept was a success. Walking inside, a visitor‘s first intake is a huge atrium, rising 92‘ in height to an expansive glass dome. Along the sides of this atrium is a continuous ramp uncoiling upwards six stories for more than one-quarter of a mile, allowing for one floor to flow into another. The ramp also creates a procession in which a visitor experiences the art displayed along the walls as they climb upwards towards the sky. The design of the museum as one continuous floor with the levels of ramps overlooking the open atrium also allowed for the interaction of people on different levels, enhancing the design in section. Although the space within the building is undeniably majestic and the building itself monumental, it was not perfectly successful in terms of function. The curved walls of the interior were intended so that paintings had to be tilted backward, „as on the artist‘s easel.“ This was unsuccessful because the paintings were still very difficult to display because of the concavity of the walls, and because of this before its opening 21 artists signed a letter protesting about their display of work in such a space.
Many critics also argue that the building competes with the art work that is intended to be displayed, a problem which Museum Director James Johnson Sweeney took seriously, stating, „This is the most spectacular museum interior architecturally in this country. But my job is to show off a magnificent collection to its fullest. Wright also had a problem with Manhattan‘s building-code administrators who argued with him over structural issues, such as the glass dome that had to be reduced in size and redesigned to include concrete ribs that are extensions of the discreet structural pillars on the exterior walls. In 1992 the museum built an addition that was designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects that Wright had originally intended. The architects analyzed Wright‘s original sketches and from his ideas they created a 10-story limestone tower that had flat walls that were more appropriate for the display of art. Between 2005-2008 the Guggenheim Museum went under an exterior renovation where eleven coats of paint were removed from the original surface and revealed many cracks due to climatic reasons. This revelation led to extensive research in the testing of potential repair materials, as well as the restoration of the exterior. Despite the opinion of critics, there is no doubt that Wright‘s design for the Guggenheim Museum provides a spatial freedom that is unique to his style. It took Wright 700 sketches and six sets of working drawings to turn his vision into an extraordinary sculpture of a building overlooking Central Park, that in the very least should be acknowledged as one of the most spatially beautiful International-style works of architecture.
Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to call the Guggenheim the „Archeseum,“ which means „to see from the highest.“ Frank Lloyd Wright‘s original plan for the Guggenheim Museum called for a glass elevator. A walk up the Guggenheim ramp from the ground floor to the dome is 1,416 feet or over 1/4 of a mile long. Frank Lloyd Wright first proposed red marble for the museum facade. He said, „Red is the color of Creation“ The Guggenheim building is made of 700 tons of steel and 7,000 cubic feet of poured concrete. The Guggenheim has been compared to an inverted cupcake, giant Jell-O mold & washing machine.
FACTS Frank Lloyd Wright insisted on designing every detail in the Guggenheim Museum, right down to the chairs and elevators. In 1945 Life Magazine published an article about the Guggenheim titled „New Art Museum Will Be New York‘s Strangest Building“ To design the Guggenheim,Wright created over 700 sketches.In 1999 Mayor Giuliani declared October 21 „Guggenheim Museum Day“. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be the largest Guggenheim Museum in the world & focus on Middle Eastern contemporary art. It took $3 million to build the Guggenheim Museum 1943-1959. The restoration of the exterior 2005-2008 cost $29 million.
TODAY Today the Guggenheim Foundation includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, also a Gehry design, is slated to open in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island. After an international architectural competition, Moreau Kusunoki Architectesâ€™ design was selected for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki. Through collaborative efforts, the foundation has extended its reach to projects and exhibitions globally, most recently with the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative and through the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, a multiyear collaboration with UBS in support of art, artists, and curatorial talent from South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. The Guggenheim Foundation remains committed to collecting, preserving and interpreting modern and contemporary art while forging international collaborations that explore ideas across cultures through dynamic curatorial and educational initiatives.
ABU DHABI 2017 www.guggenheim.org