Kandinsky at Guggenheim

Museums are the places where the audience experiences the aura of the artwork, and more like a whole atmosphere at the museum talks about the artwork the space contains.

Today I visited Guggenheim to see Kandinsky‘s life work exhibition. His oil paintings are arranged in a chronological order of earlier at the bottom and later at the top. The visitors are told to go to the top first and follow the path to go down, and experience Kandinsky’s work in backward of chronological order, like a rewind of his life.

My favorite part of this exhibition was, because Kandinsky’s work was part of Guggenheim’s permanent collection, and all his artwork somehow reflect the characteristics of Guggenheim Museum. His works’ geometrical shapes reflect Guggenheim’s windows and its structures, his works’ fluidity reflect the museum’s spatial flow of one big circulation and how other circulations follow. I believe this harmony worked because of the open space of the museum where I always could see the painting, the audience, and the space. I somehow felt this exhibition gives people the uniqueness and personality of Guggenheim Museum, and I felt it is quite important for museums to give more engagement with audience through exhibition.



4 responses to “Kandinsky at Guggenheim

  1. When Frank Lloyd Wright undertook the designing and building of the Guggenheim in 1943, for Solomon R. Guggenheim, he spent a great deal of time considering the paintings in the collection. Wright focused on Kandinsky and his use of the circular from. Neil Levine states that, “Wright further believed that his design indicated the direction future art would take.” Added that Wright stated, “Once he stops having to think in terms of rectangles, the painter will be free to paint on any shape he choose—even to curve his canvas if he wants” (Neil Levine, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, 353) One can easily see these influences on the museum space.

    Levine also writes, “The Guggenheim Museum was not designed merely to liberate art. It had the much larger social purpose, as Wright said, of providing a modern substitute for religion.” (Levine, p. 362) I find this quote very interesting to think about in terms of what the museum space is today. Has the Guggenheim or museums as a whole achieved this idea of a substitute for religion?

  2. museumdesignlab

    Well…we do talk about “cathedrals of art”, and the fact that architects now covet the museum commission above the church and the temple cannot be overlooked. I suppose this means that Art is Divinity, curators are really priests and the audio tour and label delivers their sermon. Unfortunately most museums, even with great architecture can never substitute for religion as they still charge an entry free. Maybe the ‘aurists’ should chime in here.

  3. museumdesignlab

    Sorry. Apparently the term ‘aurists’ is already taken. I meant ‘those in favor of aura’.

  4. Also, Carol Duncan speaks about the museum as a ritual in Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums. She states that the art museum is a ritual site that is associated with temples and the movement in museums. It is interesting to think about whether or not this model is still relevant today in the case of new design and architectural types of museums.

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