Dreamlike, whimsical, provocative, sexually charged and often tinged with serious social and political statements, the designs in Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum range from simple sketches to elaborate video displays.
The renderings of how the artists would fill the nearly 30 meter cylinder of the museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will be on display at the museum until April 28.
“I have witnessed artists create exhibitions and they were all drawn to the center,” said Nancy Spector, deputy director and chief curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. “They have utilized the center space in one way or another.”
The museum, which was opened in 1959, is a favorite of architects worldwide and a pop culture icon due to its ribbon-like facade and interior.
Spector asked the artists to leave all practicality, feasibility and expense aside in creating their designs.
“They were urged to create, construct and design to fill the void … using the museum as an armature,” she explained.
Spector selected artists who were very versed in engaging space and who worked two-dimensionally. Some artists lived true to their craft, imposing no boundaries on creations.
The results are an eclectic mix of media from Bogota, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan, London, Berlin, Tel Aviv and US cities.
Spector and David van der Leer, assistant curator of architecture and design of the Guggenheim, looked for cohesion in displaying the 193 submissions.
“We tried to make this as visually appealing as possible,” van der Leer said.
Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Martha Rosler created “Floating Bridges” as a digital print.
“It seemed to me that I wanted to activate the space so that people could regard it as an entirely other way of entering and using the space, and of course, you don’t normally enter the atrium in mid-air,” Rosler said.
“So I kind of treated it as a sort of a Shangri-La with broken bridges in an imaginary paradise which has to do partly with Frank Lloyd Wright’s utopian vision of space and architecture in particular.”
With so many pieces imagined for the space, one wonders if Wright, known for organic architecture based on the idea of harmony of humans and the natural world, would approve.
“It might feel very foreign to him,” said Spector.
New York based-architectural firm WORKac, which does urban planning, felt a connection with the museum when it created “Flow Show” as a digital print. It was based on a series of projects that the firm has been doing about the ability of an ecological infrastructure to provide new forms of public space.
“Wright was always going on about the organic really, and for him that meant organic architecture. But I do think with the advent of technology and the issues we are facing with the environment these days, he would certainly have embraced a deeper relationship between nature and the built environment,” said Dan Wood, partner at WORKac.
Most of the works in the exhibition will be sold through silent auction at a benefit for the museum on March 4, with an online component for those who can not attend.