“Guggenheim Museum”

Back to Bilbao

October 19th 1997, the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, opens its doors to the public for the first time. From the subsequent architectural frenzy to the growth of the brand, we take a look at the flagship of cultural globalisation 20 years after the inauguration of Frank Gehry’s emblematic design. Happy Birthday Guggenheim Bilbao!   Today, Guggenheim is more than a surname; it’s a brand – a trademark whose global reach and mainstream position have ensured untouchable success. The formula is simple; to build locally and exhibit globally. As has been the case for 58 years now, the dialectic is straightforward, yielding striking results. From New York to Bilbao (passing via Venice), the golden triangle of the masterpiece trend is off the scale. Things have not always been plain-sailing and there have inevitably been some challenges along the way in Guggenheim’s quest to increase their global presence. Whilst the New York flagship, anchored on Fifth Avenue, has stood the test of time since 1959, and the Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal, Venice, has been home to the Peggy Guggenheim collection for more than thirty-five years, conversely, the SoHo (New York) arm closed in 2001 and Las Vegas’ Hermitage Museum followed suit in 2008. The Berlin Guggenheim, known for its radical minimalism (its entire exhibition space was open plan), closed its doors for the last time in 2013. The Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, home of many important pieces, was also forced to close, unable to overcome the multiple hurdles in its path. These closures in quick succession – the woeful result of a mismatched marriage of art and money – were difficult setbacks to recover from. Other Guggenheim projects didn’t even get off the ground; firstly in Guadalajara, Mexico, then in Vilnius, Lithuania, projects for two further museums were quashed....

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A “Charleroi effect”?

Since 1997, much has been written about the “Bilbao effect”. But is the creation of “mega-museums” still adapted to our society today? We probe this question by examining Charleroi, which has chosen to privilege depth over gloss in a project that combines urbanism and culture. Sometimes nicknames linger long after the reality they point to has vanished. Does Charleroi really still deserve its reputation as the “world’s ugliest city”? Ever since it earned this title from a Dutch magazine in 2009, its municipal authorities and various private initiatives have been getting involved — and investing — to restore this Belgian city to its former glory. Charleroi enjoyed its hours of glory during the industrial era, firstly thanks to coal mines, then thanks to the production of glass and steel, but also thanks to the chemical and mechanical industries. While its population multiplied by seven between 1800 and 1900, subsequent deindustrialisation triggered the exodus of 35,000 inhabitants, leaving no more than 200,000 residents in the city. The move had severe consequences: Charleroi still carries the marks of this transition, which occurred as quickly as the city’s collapse. With ten years separating their respective developments, Charleroi has confronted similar issues to those faced by Bilbao. But the Belgian city, holding less architectural strength, has chosen to follow a different path from its Spanish sister. Instead, it has adopted a double strategy. On the one hand, the creation of cultural and urban coverage with the means to breathe new life to the city. On the other hand, safeguarding and promotion of its industrial heritage. What remains of the Bilbao effect? Ever since the successful integration of the Guggenheim Museum into an abandoned landscape, we’ve heard about the “Bilbao effect” again and again. For good reason too, when we note how niftily the strategy...

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Lawsuit on authentication of Agnès Martin works

The Mayor Gallery in London has filed a lawsuit against the editorial committee of the catalogue raisonné of Canadian-American artist Agnès Martin, whose minimalist paintings are currently on show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, until 11 January. The authentication committee namely including the owner of the Pace Gallery Arne Glimcher, representing the artist’s estate, rejected thirteen works belonging to clients from the Mayor Gallery, making them “worthless” according to legal documents. According to the complaint, four collectors purchased these works, all signed by Agnès Martin. Among them, Jack Levy, formerly of Goldman Sachs Investment, thus acquired Day & Night for $2.9 million in 2010, a worked rejected by the authentication committee in 2014. Mayor thus repurchased the work and placed it on sale once again with new proofs of its authenticity. But to no avail, for the piece was once again rejected. The other collectors are Patricia and Frank Kolodny, as well as Sybil Shainwald, who bought works on paper for thousands of dollars, as well as Pierre de Labouchère, who acquired ten paintings for $3.6...

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“Photo-Poetics: An Anthology” at the Guggenheim Museum, New York

From 20 November 2015 to 23 March 2016, the Guggenheim Museum, New York will be holding a group exhibition entitled “Photo-Poetics: An Anthology” exploring the notion of Conceptualism in contemporary photography, particularly focusing on the works of young artists and situating their ideas and works within an historical context. The exhibition will include more than 70 works by ten artists: Claudia Angelmaier, Erica Baum, Anne Collier, Moyra Davey, Leslie Hewitt, Elad Lassry, Lisa Oppenheim, Erin Shirreff, Kathrin Sonntag, and Sara VanDerBeek. It will explore these artists’ approaches to still-life photography, working mainly from their studios to produce works with a choreographed, almost artificial aesthetic focussing on static objects and printed matter, such as magazines, books, and record covers. The spotlight is placed firmly on the central objects, resulting in an image seeping with poetic and emotive meaning, as the intimacy of a person’s belongings or an individual’s words on a page drench the works in nostalgia and sentiment. It is as though the image is a sort of displaced self-portrait which resonates with a wider historical and personal context. These artists employ traditional techniques, such as printing and film to create artist’s books, installations and photo-sculptures. Their “photo poetics” self-consciously explore the unspoken rules of photography and the concepts behind photographic representation. The exhibition is organized by  Jennifer Blessing, Senior Curator of Photography at the Guggenheim Museum alongside Susan Thompson, Assistant...

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Two new curators appointed at New York’s Guggenheim Museum

As reported by The Art Newspaper, two new curators have been appointed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York to strengthen the institution’s programme concerning contemporary Chinese art. The two new curators are Hou Hanru and Xiaoyu Weng. Hou Hanru will work as a consulting curator for the museum. Prior to this, he was the artistic director of MAXXI, the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome. Xiaoyu Weng was founding director of Kadist Art Foundation’s Asian programme. The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation has donated $10 million to the museum so that it can create a program focussed on contemporary Chinese art and appoint curators who will dedicate themselves to this task. Within this framework, Hou Hanru and Xiaoyu Weng will select a set of works that will be acquired by the museum and shown to the public as part of a group exhibition. Richard Armstrong, director of the museum, believes that these appointments are a real opportunity that “will broaden our curatorial purview.” The Guggenheim Museum’s programme dedicated to contemporary Chinese art organised an exhibition dedicated to Wang Jianwei, which attracted more than 250,000 visitors in October...

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