The Guggenheim Dynasty
The Guggenheim isn’t just a museum in New York, it’s part of a whole collection of museums set up by the Guggenheim Foundation dedicated to collecting and creating art. The family were passionate about art, they had some great advisers (and lovers), and the museums represent not only some of the best collections of art in the world, but they are housed in some pretty spectacular buildings too.
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
Often referred to just as “The Guggenheim”, it’s the best known of the museums. It boasts a large collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work, as well as other contemporary styles. There are also temporary collections, such as “Kandinsky at the Bauhaus”, which is on at the moment. The building too is hailed as a work of art, although it also has its critics.
Peggy Guggenheim, Venice
Home to Peggy until her death, she used to open her Palazzo and sculpture garden up for 6 months a year to let the public enjoy her collection. Nowadays, you can go anytime and see the range of European and American art from the early 20th Century. Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism are the order of the day as Picasso, Dali, Gorky and Miro all feature.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao
This museum’s small collection of early 20th Century paintings and sculptures is overshadowed by both the temporary exhibitions, which are grouped by theme, and the building itself. The only exception is the “Matter of Time” series of huge weathered steel sculptures which calls this museum home. The building is designed by Gehry and it boasts curves galore as well as textured titanium panels to give it a “fish-like” sheen.
Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin
Housed on the ground floor of Deutsche Bank’s headquarters, this museum isn’t open all the time but the huge exhibition space hosts several art exhibitions throughout the year. Its purpose is to commission new works of art, so that the best ones can then enter the Guggenheim Foundation’s permanent collection, thus keeping the foundation at the cutting edge of modern art. The best exhibitions go on tour around some of the other Guggenheims.
The Guggenheim Foundation is continuing to expand across the globe, with rumours of a forthcoming museum in Abu Dhabi. In the past they have had a collection in Las Vegas as well as floated the idea of a branch in Mexico. They are also planning a new museum in Helsinki, although that is not without controversy as Vilnius in Lithuania seemed to be the frontrunner for that one until recently.
top image by Peter Kaminsky