For the Guggenheim's 50th anniversary, the museum's curators invited scores of artists to imagine their dream interventions, leave practicality or even reality behind, in the space for the exhibition Contemplating the Void: Interventions.
Conceived as both a commemoration and a self-reflexive folly, many themes emerged such as the return to nature in its primordial state, the desire to climb the building, the interplay of light and space, the interest in diaphanous effects as a counterpoint to the concrete structure, and the impact of sound on the environment.
Organized by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and David van der Leer, Assistant Curator for Architecture and Design, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the exhibition features renderings of these visionary projects in a salon-style installation that emphasize the rich and diverse range of the proposals received.
Submissions came from all over the world from a wide range of artists, designers, and architects, including emerging as well as established practitioners. Among the many works in the exhibition are projects by artists Alice Aycock, FAKE DESIGN (Ai Weiwei), Anish Kapoor, Sarah Morris, Wangechi Mutu, Mike Nelson, Paul Pfeiffer, Doris Salcedo, Lawrence Weiner, and Rachel Whiteread; designers such as Fernando and Humberto Campana, Martí Guixé, Joris Laarman Studio, and Studio Job; and architects such as Álvaro Siza Vieira Arquitecto, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Greg Lynn FORM, junya.ishigami+associates, MVRDV, N55, Philippe Rahm, Snøhetta, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, and West 8. In addition to the exhibition in the Thannhauser and Annex Level 4 galleries, Contemplating the Void will be accompanied by a comprehensive exhibition Web site, which will document each submission and feature introductory essays texts by Nancy Spector and David van der Leer.
Since its opening in 1959, the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Guggenheim building has served as an inspiration for invention, challenging artists and architects to react to its eccentric, organic design. In designing the Guggenheim Museum, Wright flaunted the notion of the void, leaving the center tantalizingly (or threateningly) empty. Over the years, when creating site-specific installations or exhibition designs for the building, artists and architects have imbued the space with their presences, inspiring unforgettable works by Matthew Barney, Cai Guo- Qiang, Frank Gehry, Jenny Holzer, and Nam June Paik, among others.
Photo: Alyson Shotz, Glendale, Arizona, Untitled, 2009, Artwork © Alyson Shotz