If you’re looking to undertake a short break to New York, Bilbao or Venice in the near future, chances are the name Guggenheim might feature prominently on your sightseeing checklist. And so it should, given its immense contribution to and promotion of modern and contemporary art across the world, not to mention some sheer feats of architectural brilliance, providing pre-requisite photo opportunities no matter the location.
Founded in 1937, the Soloman R. Guggenheim Foundation dedicates itself to promoting of the understanding and appreciation of art, particularly in the modern and contemporary spheres. Initially starting out with its flagship New York museum in 1952, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice joined the foundation in 1980, with Bilbao and Berlin following in 1997, the latter sadly closing in February this year. There’s also an Abu Dhabi addition currently in development, set to be the largest Guggenheim member in the world. A hallmark amongst each setting, each Guggenheim museum combines a truly remarkable piece of architecture with a fabulous collection of artworks.
Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, this flagship institution, officially titled the Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, is home to an internationally renowned and ever-expanding permanent collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early modern and contemporary art, not to mention a series of special exhibitions throughout the year. One of the 20th century’s most important architectural landmarks, the museum occupies a distinctive cylindrical building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright which opened to the public in 1959. Among its many exhibitions currently taking place, one of particular interest is Kandinsky in Paris, 1934 – 1944, running until April next year. The museum is open daily (closed Thursdays) from 10am to 5.44pm daily (7.45pm on Saturdays).
Few museums can boast such a prestigious location as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, set as it is in an 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on Venice’s stunning Grand Canal. Originally the private collection of American heiress, Peggy Guggenheim, her impressive ensemble of artworks was passed to the Guggenheim Foundation in 1979 after her death. The former wife of artist, Max Ernst and niece of Soloman R. Guggenheim, Peggy Guggenheim amassed a wealth of works both in Europe and America, where she discovered the talent of Jackson Pollock.
Today, the museum contains an impressive collection of Italian futurist art and American modernist art, with Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism also playing a prominent role. It also plays host to a number of important temporary exhibitions; one that caught our eye was the Avant-Gardes of Fin-de-Siècle Paris, showcasing the work of turn-of-the-century artists, Signac, Denis, Bonnard and Redon amongst others, runnig from September 28th through to early January 2014. The museum is open daily (closed Tuesdays) from 10am to 6pm.
Opened no less by the King of Spain in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao dedicates itself to modern and contemporary art with a collection spanning the mid-20th century to the present day, concentrating particularly on post-war painting and sculpture in America and Europe. A visit to this iconic landmark on a short break to Bilbao is an absolute essential and is almost more special than the collection contained within, thanks to its awesome, futuristic shell of titanium, glass and limestone. Designed by Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Bilbao has been hailed as the most important building of its time. The museum is open daily (closed Mondays) from 10am to 8pm, except in July and August when it opens continuously.
Conceived once again by Frank Gehry, this 450,000-square-foot, futuristic-looking museum will be located in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, a 27km² natural island set 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Set to be the largest of the foundation’s four institutions, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will not only play host to global art and exhibitions, but will also focus on Middle Eastern contemporary art. Looking out onto spectacular views of the Saadiyat Cultural District and Arabian Gulf, The building itself is a truly unique intricate contortion of cones and cubes blending Arabian tradition with modern design, all covered by an exterior of blue glass. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is set to open in 2017.