Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

"The modern world considers art to be very important: something close to the meaning of life." - Alain de Botton

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum stands on the museum mile and is 5 minutes from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but different from all the museums on 5th Avenue. 

Its striking architecture contrasts, if not dissonant, with the famous mile of museums. A decadent snail crawl among Oldschool architecture. But that’s exactly what makes it beautiful.

The amazing Guggenheim family, several members of which suddenly began collecting and supporting avant-garde art from the first half of the 20th century. But today is just about one member of this family.

Solomon Robert Guggenheim (1861-1949) was a Jewish American philanthropist who founded the famous Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Novelty from paintings to building

A young and ambitious German artist, Hilla von Rebay, was commissioned to paint a portrait of Mr. Solomon. She also convinced the millionaire to invest in contemporary art. Thanks to the eccentric German, the works of the old masters in the Guggenheim collection were joined by paintings by Bauer, Kandinsky, Delaunay, Klee, Léger, Mondrian and many other important 20th century artists.

In 1937, Guggenheim’s passion for twentieth-century painting moved to a new stage. The patron founded the Foundation for the Support of Contemporary Art, and appointed Hilla von Rebay as curator. In June 1943, the Foundation commissioned the architect Frank Loyd Wright to build a new museum building. The location was picturesque: near Central Park, on Fifth Avenue.

The project was openly dedicated to Hilla von Rebay. Guggenheim said that it “sprang up around this woman.”

A gem of surrealism at the 5th Avenue Museum.

The grandiose building was not completed until 1959, when Solomon himself was no longer alive.

After Solomon Guggenheim’s death, not only the modern Fifth Avenue Museum was opened, but also branches in Europe: Venice (1951), Bilbao, Berlin (1997).

The Foundation’s expansion into Europe is due to Peggy Guggenheim, Solomon’s niece. She initiated the opening of the Museum in Venice, transferring her personal collection there. She also gradually “squeezed” Hilla von Rebay out of the work on the projects. I will tell you about the Younger Guggenheim and the relationship between these ladies later.

Thanks to this family, New York City has a Surrealist jewel in its necklace of 5th Avenue museums.


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