Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 5.15.2009)
Situated on Fifth Avenue, nearby the Metropolitan Museum of Art and overlooking Central Park, Guggenheim Museum is one of the main attractions on the touristic map of New York City. The Museum is home to major 20th century art works by Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Miro, Magritte, Dali, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Brancusi as well as 19th century masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh and many more. The museum hosts a beautiful collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, expressionist and surrealist art, which ensures Guggenheim’s status as one of the most important museums of modern art in the world.
Philanthropist and art collector Solomon Guggenheim originally opened the museum in 1937, but as his collection continued to grow, he hired architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new building. The building designed by Wright, which opened in 1959, is a masterpiece in itself: the gallery is designed in the form of a helical spiral, starting at the ground level and going up to the top of the building. Art works are displayed along the walls of the spiral as well as in small annexes attached to the central exhibition space. A big skylight is placed at the center of the building.
I visited the museum for the first time a couple of years ago and did get to see an important part of its collection. To mention some of the most beautiful, “Woman with Yellow Hair” (Picasso, 1931), “Accordionist” (Picasso, 1911), “Green Violinist” (Chagall, 1923), “The Clarinet” (Braque, 1912) and “Composition 8” (Kandinsky, 1923).
Picasso’s and Braque’s paintings are a faithful reflection of their cubist and surrealist periods, whereas Kandinsky is the expressionist par excellence. As for Chagall, anytime I find myself in front of any of his paintings, I am under the impression that the artist was dreaming with open eyes when painting: houses upside down, planes interrupted and juxtaposed, people floating through space.
Picasso’s “Woman with Yellow Hair” depicts a curved profile of a woman with yellow hair and pink skin (the contrast of yellow and pink always being a striking one). The woman is taking a nap on a sofa, while somehow still in a vertical position. “Accordionist” is an expression of Picasso’s analytical cubism period. The object of this painting is deconstructed into small components, displayed in various geometric figures, on nuances of mainly brown, gray and beige.
Chagall’s “Green Violinist” is a cubist masterpiece as well, depicting a violinist in a position that resembles the shape of a violin. He plays violin in a dream-like scenery, wearing a purple coat with geometric figures, a purple hat and checkered pants with unmatched shoes.
“Composition 8” by Kandinsky is a mix of circles, semi-circles, triangles, quadrilaterals and lines, arranged in various forms and colors, representative for the abstract art of the 20th century. As a matter of fact, this year Kandinsky’s work will be subject to an ample retrospective, hosted by Guggenheim Museum as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
If you are in the neighborhood this summer, you may want to visit.