Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum

by Anna Carnick

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Opening today and capping off a year-long 50th anniversary celebration, the Guggenheim presents Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum. For this salon-style installation, the museum invited nearly 200 artists, designers and architects to submit their dream proposals for interacting with the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building’s central rotunda, or “void.” The central space, famously encompassed by the circular exhibit hallways, gave these world-renowned and up-and-coming and creatives plenty of space for interpretation, and the resulting exhibit features renderings of their visionary solutions.


Recurring themes include a return to nature, the relationship between light and space, aspirations of climbing the building, and the interplay of diaphanous elements with the concrete structure. The impressive list of contributors includes everyone from architects Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn FORM, MVRDV and N55; to artists Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread and Doris Salcedo and designers Fernando and Humberto Campana, Joris Laarman Studio, Studio Job and Dror Benshetrit.


Describing his contribution, “Redlining the Guggenheim,” a watercolor painting that depicts a red wall following the building’s circular path, Dror explains, “This was my first request from the Guggenheim, which for me is one of the most special museums in the world. As I am an artist by heart, I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than a hand-painted piece that communicates my vision to erect a wall that spirals in the middle of the climbing floor.”

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Ultimately, these eclectic approaches to the space reinforce the potency of the Guggenheim’s organic architecture. Over the years, the building has inspired amazing site-specific installations and exhibition designs by the likes of Matthew Barney, Frank Gehry, Jenny Holzer and others. Considering these latest inventions, the inspirational nature of Wright’s 1959 building seems, if anything, to grow stronger with time.

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A complementary exhibition website accompanies the show, documenting each submission and featuring introductory essays by Guggenheim curators Nancy Spector and David van der Leer.

Contemplating the Void runs through 28 April 2010.