On View

‘Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe’ at the Guggenheim Museum

'Interventionist Demonstration (Manifestazione Interventista)' (1914) by Carlo Carrà. (© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome, courtesy the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)

In 1909, F. T. Marinetti’s “Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” declared, “We will glorify war … militarism, patriotism … and scorn for women.” A new show at the Guggenheim Museum featuring the art of the Italian Futurists between 1909 and 1944, with nearly 360 artworks by more than 80 artists, is a scholarly and historical tour-de-force by curator Vivien Greene. Moving beyond the model of a solo museum show (which in this case might have focused on macho Marinetti, the movement’s founder), “Reconstructing the Universe” is an inclusive look at the movement with a reach (the show takes us straight through World War II) and depth that yields insights into how art embraced technology, and how artists used new technology to make art, in the first half of the 20th century. Read More

Protests

Guggenheim Responds to Abu Dhabi Protestors

Protestors take over the museum. (Courtesy Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction via Gothamist)

The Guggenheim has released a brief statement in response to the protest involving banners and bugles that broke out at its Fifth Avenue branch last Saturday. The flashmob style demonstration, a joint effort from artist and activist groups Gulf Labor and Occupy Museums, was targeting the museum’s plans to build a satellite location on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. According to Gulf representatives, the construction is being undertaken by indentured South Asian laborers who are exploited in numerous ways.  Read More

obits

Peter Lewis, Guggenheim’s Biggest Donor, Dies at 80

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Peter B. Lewis, the philanthropic former chairman and chief executive of Progressive Corporation, died yesterday at home in Coconut Grove, Fla. Lewis was known for his gifts to places like Princeton University and Democratic campaigns, along with ones to legalize marijuana. The art world, however, will probably best remember his contentious relationship with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.  Read More

On View

James Turrell at the Guggenheim Museum

Installation view of 'Aten Reign,' 2013, at the Guggenheim. (© James Turrell/Photo by David Heald/Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)

I have always admired the work of American sculptor James Turrell, but I waited in vain for confirmation of that sentiment while viewing his underwhelming current show at the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition features a large, insipid LED light installation and only a handful of his restrained early works.

Mr. Turrell has transformed the museum’s torqued atrium into a five-tiered, wedding-cake-like light sculpture. Some natural light filters in from the top, but colored LEDs on each tier turn the installation alternately green, mustard yellow, purple, various reds and at least three kinds of blue: minty, glowing cerulean and a flat cornflower. Layers of what look like cheesecloth diffuse the light, giving the installation a beautified-aging-movie-star feel. Read More

On View

‘Gutai: Splendid Playground’ at the Guggenheim Museum

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Motonaga Sadamasa, Work (Water), 1956

Alexandra Munroe and Ming Tiampo’s “Gutai: Splendid Playground” may just be the best show in town. It is an immersive, coherent and spirited exhibition of Japanese postwar art.

The art movement Gutai (“concreteness”) originated as a reaction to the trauma of World War II. In the mid-1950s, young Japanese artists from the southern town of Ashiya who had seen Jackson Pollock’s paintings started making artworks that were as kinetic as they were minimal. The work was a celebration of individuality and play, of new technology and the material innovation that drove it—Gutai loved reflective materials and electric lights. A Dadaist, antiauthoritarian spirit abounded in the movement, and is pervasive at the Guggenheim: paintings were made by things like drawing machines, toy cars and vibrating devices. Yuko Nasaka’s Work (1960) looks like turntables of automotive lacquer. Films on view document the Gutai festivals—outdoor, interactive, public events in which playful displays of tactile materials hung in pine trees and artists burst through paper paintings, laughing. Fifty-nine artists ultimately claimed affiliation with the movement over its 18-year history. Read More