Guggenheim Museum New York
Famous Art Gallery Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright: History, Collection Highlights, Exhibitions.

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Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art.

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum New York


New York Guggenheim Permanent Collection
Solomon Guggenheim Founding Collection (1937-49)
The Karl Nierendorf Collection (1948)
Katherine S. Dreier Collection (1953)
Justin K. Thannhauser Collection (1963)
Baroness Hilla Rebay von Ehrenwiesen Collection (1967)
Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo Collection (1991-2)
Robert Mapplethorpe Collection (1992)
Bohen Foundation Collection (2001)

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Frick Collection
Whitney Museum of American Art

Smithsonian American Art Museum
National Gallery of Art Washington DC
Phillips Collection

Barnes Foundation
Carnegie Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
J Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles

The Guggenheim

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - known simply as "The Guggenheim" - is, along with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, one of the three leading art museums in New York City.

It is owned and operated by the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, a philanthropic organization which also owns some of the best galleries of contemporary art in Venice, Bilbao and Berlin, giving it a major presence in the international art market.

Opened in October 1959, the New York Guggenheim building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is situated on the Upper East Side and is one of the the city's most famous architectural landmarks. (See also: American Architecture 1600-present.) Its permanent collection features a world-famous collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks, as well as some of the greatest 20th century paintings by famous painters from all over the world. In addition, the Guggenheim has numerous collections of contemporary works, including sculpture, photography, video installations and much more.

Art Institute of Chicago
Detroit Institute of Arts
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts Houston

For Ashkenazi, Sephardi & Oriental
Judaica, crafts and artifacts,
see: Jewish Art Museum.

For the best contemporary design
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see: New York Art Schools.
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See: Art Museums in Europe.

For details of the Top 40, see:
American Sculptors (1850-present)

For contemporary 3-D artists, see:
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The Guggenheim Museum New York is one of the world's best art museums.


In 1937, Solomon Guggenheim (1861-1949), the uncle of Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979), set up a foundation to maintain and exhibit his holdings of non-objective, or abstract art. Since then, the foundation's activities have expanded to include the operation of four arts galleries in America and Europe, each with access to shared collections, and joint programs. The New York Guggenheim itself has grown organically through the acquisition of eight important art collections of varying sizes. These are:

• Solomon Guggenheim Founding Collection (1937-49)
• Karl Nierendorf Collection (1948)
• Katherine S. Dreier Collection (1953)
• Justin K. Thannhauser Collection (1963)
• Baroness Hilla Rebay von Ehrenwiesen Collection (1967)
• Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo Collection (1991-2)
• Robert Mapplethorpe Collection (1992)
• Bohen Foundation Collection (2001)

For The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, see: Venice Guggenheim Museum.


New York Guggenheim Permanent Collection

Beginning with Solomon R. Guggenheim's founding collection of abstract art, the museum's holdings have been augmented and strengthened over the years by Karl Nierendorf's important German and Austrian Expressionist works, Justin K. Thannhauser's Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and other modern pieces, Hilla Rebay's personal collection of 20th century works, and Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo's Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, Environmental, and Conceptual art. Other important additions to the permanent collection have included major donations from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation's photographic collection as well as contemporary work of video, film, and installation art from the Bohen Foundation. The result is a multi-layered international collection featuring masterpieces from nearly all modern art movements and contemporary art movements from the late 19th-century to the present.

Solomon Guggenheim Founding Collection (1937-49)

The New York Guggenheim Museum houses some 600 artworks that were donated to the museum by its founder between 1937 and 1949. Under the guidance of the German artist Hilla Rebay, Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861–1949) championed a style known as non-objective art, amassing some 150 paintings by Vasily Kandinsky, works of Cubism by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Albert Gleizes, and Robert Delaunay, as well as works by Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Henri Rousseau, Franz Marc, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Hilla Rebay herself.

Highlights of the Solomon Guggenheim Founding Collection

Pablo Picasso, Carafe, Jug and Fruit Bowl, 1909
Pablo Picasso, Accordionist, 1911
Pablo Picasso, Landscape at Céret, 1911
Amedeo Modigliani, Nude, 1917
Amedeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hébuterne with Yellow Sweater, 1918–19
Vasily Kandinsky, Blue Mountain, 1908–09
Vasily Kandinsky, Sketch for Composition II, 1909–10
Vasily Kandinsky, Black Lines, 1913
Vasily Kandinsky, Small Pleasures, 1913
Vasily Kandinsky, Composition 8, 1923
Vasily Kandinsky, In the Black Square, 1923
Vasily Kandinsky, Taut Line, 1931
Vasily Kandinsky, Dominant Curve, 1936
Marc Chagall, The Soldier Drinks, 1911–12
Marc Chagall, Paris Through the Window, 1913
Marc Chagall, Green Violinist, 1923–24
Fernand Leger, The Smokers, 1911–1912
Fernand Leger, Nude Model in the Studio, 1912–13
Fernand Leger, Contrast of Forms, 1913
Robert Delaunay, Saint-Séverin No. 3, 1909–10
Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower with Trees, 1910
Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1911
Piet Mondrian, Tableau No. 2/Composition No. VII, 1913
Piet Mondrian, Composition 8, 1914
Piet Mondrian, Composition, 1916
Franz Marc, Yellow Cow, 1911
Franz Marc, Stables, 1913
Georges Seurat, Farm Women at Work, 1882–83
Georges Seurat, Peasant with Hoe, 1882
Pierre Bonnard, Dining Room on the Garden, 1934–35
Albert Gleizes, Portrait of an Army Doctor, 1914–15
László Moholy-Nagy, A II, 1924
Henri Rousseau, Artillerymen, 1893–95

These works make the Guggenheim one of the best art museums in America.

See also our article on fine art: How To Appreciate Paintings.

The Karl Nierendorf Collection (1948)

In 1948, the Guggenheim Foundation bought the entire collection of New York art dealer Karl Nierendorf (1889–1947). This included a large body of work by the Swiss artist Paul Klee, a series of important German Expressionist paintings - like Knight Errant (1915) by Oskar Kokoschka - Surrealist masterpieces such as Joan Miró’s Personage (1925), and a number of early paintings by the American Abstract Expressionist artist Adolph Gottlieb (1903-74).

Karl Nierendorf had started his art-dealership in Cologne, just after the First World War. He and his brother, Josef Nierendorf (1898–1949) initially concentrated on drawings and watercolours, notably those by members of The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) group of Expressionist painters. After emigrating to New York in 1936, he founded the Nierendorf Gallery, originally on West 53rd Street, joining the growing community of émigré artists and dealers in the city. Among them, he met Hilla Rebay, then the founding director and curator of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting - the precursor to the Guggenheim Museum - with whom he established a strong commercial relationship, based on their mutual taste for avant-garde art. Later, in 1946-7, Nierendorf returned to Europe to assess the state of the art market, making significant acquisitions from the estates of artists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Paul Klee. Sadly, not long after his return to New York, Nierendorf suffered a fatal heart attack, and his estate was duly acquired by the Guggenheim Foundation.

Highlights of the Karl Nierendorf Collection

Paul Klee, The Bavarian Don Giovanni, 1919
Paul Klee, Red Balloon, 1922
Oskar Kokoschka, Knight Errant, 1915
Joan Miró, Personage, 1925

Katherine S. Dreier Collection (1953)

In 1953, the Guggenheim received a small gift of major importance from Katherine S. Dreier (1877–1952), one of the most influential figures in modern art in the first part of the 20th century. In 1920, in conjunction with Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) and Man Ray (1890–1976), Dreier founded the Société Anonyme, the first collection in America to be referred to as a "Museum of Modern Art". Under Dreier’s direction, the organization staged a number of important exhibitions, during its 30-year life, notably the 1926 International Exhibition of Modern Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Partly due to the close working relationship and shared artistic concerns between Dreier and Hilla Rebay, Dreier bequeathed 28 works of art from her private collection to the Guggenheim. These included: Little French Girl (1914–18), by Constantin Brancusi; an untitled still life (1916) by Juan Gris; a bronze sculpture (1919) by Alexander Archipenko; and three collages (1919-21) by the legendary German Hanoverian Dadaist Kurt Schwitters.

Other Highlights of the Dreier Collection

Marcel Duchamp, Study for Chess Players, 1911
El Lissitzky, Proun (Entwurf zu Proun S.K.), 1922–23
Piet Mondrian, Composition, 1929

Justin K. Thannhauser Collection (1963)

In 1963, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was permanently loaned part of Justin K. Thannhauser’s holdings of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and modern French paintings, an arrangement which, in 1978, was converted into an outright gift. The Thannhauser acquisition enabled the museum for the first time to display the origins of modern art, from French Impressionism onwards. The collection features The Hermitage at Pointoise by Camille Pissarro (c.1867), Before the Mirror by Edouard Manet (1876), Mountains at Saint-Rémy by Vincent van Gogh (1889), as well as nearly 30 paintings and drawings by Pablo Picasso, including the masterpieces Le Moulin de la Galette (1900) and Woman Ironing (1904).

Justin K. Thannhauser (1892–1976) was much involved in the promotion of modern art in Europe, due to his involvement in the management of the famous Moderne Galerie founded in Munich by his father, in 1909. Its program of art exhibitions encompassed Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, the Italian Futurists, as well as premier exhibitions by the New Artists Association of Munich (Neue Künstlervereinigung München) and The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter), both of which featured Vasily Kandinsky. In 1913, the Moderne Galerie staged the first major retrospective of Pablo Picasso, forming close ties in the process with the artist. After World War I, Justin Thannhauser assumed control of the gallery, opening new branches in Lucerne (1919), and Berlin (1927), but the advent of the Nazis and its campaign against so-called "entartete kunst" (degenerate art) forced Thannhauser in 1937 to close the business and emigrate to Paris and thence to New York where he established himself as a private art dealer. Here he became acquainted with Thomas M. Messer, director of the New York Guggenheim, who played an important role in securing Thannhauser's collection for the museum.


Other Highlights of the Justin K. Thannhauser Collection

Pablo Picasso, Fernande with a Black Mantilla, 1905–06
Pablo Picasso, Woman with Yellow Hair, 1931
Pablo Picasso, Two Doves with Wings Spread, 1960
Pablo Picasso, Lobster and Cat, 1965
Paul Cézanne, Still Life: Flask, Glass, and Jug, c.1877
Paul Cézanne, The Neighborhood of Jas de Bouffan, 1885–87
Paul Cézanne, Bibemus, c.1894–95
Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai, 1891
Paul Gauguin, In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse, 1891
Edouard Manet, Woman in Evening Dress, 1877–80
Vincent van Gogh, Landscape with Snow, 1888
Georges Braque, Landscape near Antwerp, 1906
Claude Monet, The Palazzo Ducale, Seen from San Giorgio Maggiore, 1908
Edgar Degas, Seated Woman, Wiping Her Left Side, 1896-1911

Baroness Hilla Rebay von Ehrenwiesen Collection (1967)

During her long career as an artist and administrator, Hilla Rebay, the first director and curator of Guggenheim’s Museum of Non-Objective Painting — later renamed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1952 — built a significant fine art collection of her own. After her death a portion of this collection, encompassing artworks by Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Albert Gleizes, Piet Mondrian, and Kurt Schwitters, was gifted to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Hilla Rebay, Baroness Hilla Rebay von Ehrenwiesen (1890–1967) was born in Strassburg, Germany and received a thorough academic training as a portrait painter and figurative artist, in Cologne, Paris, Munich, and Berlin (where she also exhibited), before embracing collage and concrete art (geometrical abstraction) under the influence of Dada artists Hans Richter (1888-1976) and Jean Arp (1887-1966). She participated in the early Dada movement in Zurich, as well as other avant-garde events in Europe, and became acquainted with the artist Rudolf Bauer, as well as Herwarth Walden (1879-1941), the founder of the influential Sturm gallery in Berlin. In 1927 Rebay emigrated to the United States where she encountered Solomon R. Guggenheim, with whom she established a close friendship and professional relationship. It was Rebay who in 1943 commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) to design a permanent museum for the collection on Fifth Avenue.

Highlights of the Hilla Rebay Collection

Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 1: Lozenge with Four Lines, 1930
Alexander Calder, Yucca Standing Mobile, 1941
Paul Klee, Curtain, 1924

Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo Collection (1991-2)

In the early 1990s, the Guggenheim acquired over 350 works of Conceptual, Minimalist and Post-Minimalist art from the famous collection of Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo. Widely seen as one of the world's most important collections of 1960s and 1970s art, it significantly strengthened the Guggenheim's holdings of postwar abstraction.

Italian industrialist and real-estate investor Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo (b. 1923) and his wife, Giovanna, are considered to be two of the most knowledgable and canny collectors of works from post-war contemporary art movements. Their holdings spanned European and American painting and sculpture from the mid-1940s to the early 1960s, including exponents of American Abstract Expressionism such as Mark Rothko and Franz Kline and European artists like Jean Fautrier and Antoni Tàpies. They were also early patrons of Pop art, buying a number of Robert Rauschenberg's 1950s "combines", along with works by Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, and James Rosenquist. The majority of these early acquisitions were purchased by the The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 1984.

In 1966, the Panzas began to concentrate their attention on Minimalist figures in American art, purchasing works from American sculptors like Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Carl Andre, as well as Minimalist paintings by Brice Marden, Robert Mangold, and Robert Ryman, before moving onto Post-Minimalist works by the sculptor Richard Serra. More acquisitions, this time of works by environmental artists such as James Turrell, Robert Irwin, and Doug Wheeler, and Conceptual artists like Sol LeWitt, and Lawrence Weiner, solidified the reputation of the collection as the most important single assembly of contemporary art from the 1960s and 1970s. In 1991 and 1992, with the aim of keeping this collection intact, the Panzas sold and donated more than 350 items of Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual art to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Highlights of the Panza Collection

Carl Andre, 10 x 10 Altstadt Copper Square, 1967
Carl Andre, Fall, 1968
Robert Morris, Untitled (Corner Piece), 1964
Robert Morris, Untitled (Pink Felt), 1970
Donald Judd, Untitled, 1968
Donald Judd, Untitled, 1969
Bruce Nauman, Lighted Performance Box, 1969
Bruce Nauman, Green Light Corridor, 1970
Robert Ryman, Classico IV, 1968
Robert Ryman, Surface Veil I, 1970
Robert Ryman, Surface Veil II, c.1970
Richard Serra, Belts, 1966–67
Richard Serra, Strike: To Roberta and Rudy, 1969–71
James Turrell, Afrum I (White), 1967
James Turrell, Lunette, Varese, 1974
James Turrell, Night Passage, 1987
Dan Flavin, greens crossing greens, 1966
Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #146, 1972
Robert Mangold, Circle In and Out of a Polygon 2, 1973
Brice Marden, D'après la Marquise de la Solana, 1969

Robert Mapplethorpe Collection (1992)

In 1992, the Guggenheim was gifted some 200 of the finest photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89). Executed in a number of stages between 1993 and 1998, the bequest encompassed works from all periods of Mapplethorpe’s work, from his early collages, Polaroids, and mixed-media constructions to his iconic images of male and female nudes, flowers, and statues. It also featured his portraits of celebrities, and more than 20 of the artist's renowned self-portraits culminating in his Self-Portrait (1988), completed a year before his premature death in 1989. The acquisition of the Mapplethorpe collection initiated the Guggenheim’s new fine art photography collection and exhibition program.

Highlights of the Robert Mapplethorpe Collection

Green Bag, 1971
Slave, 1974
Jesse McBride, 1976
Rosie, 1976
Pictures/Self-Portrait, 1977
Pictures/Self-Portrait, 1977
Self-Portrait, 1980

Bohen Foundation Collection (2001)

During the course of 1999, 2000 and 2001, the Bohen Foundation, a private charity with an established reputation for its patronage of the contemporary arts, in the form of commissions for video, film, installation and other avant-garde media, gifted its entire holding of approximately 275 works by 45 artists to the Guggenheim. Works in the Bohen collection ranged from important photographic art by Sam Taylor-Wood and Hiroshi Sugimoto, to room-size installations by Pierre Huyghe, Shirin Neshat, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Willie Doherty. Launched in Des Moines in 1958 by Fred Bohen, the Bohen Foundation started out as a traditional, family foundation for the support of good causes in the local community, but later developed into a body devoted entirely to supporting the arts, through a unique system of commissioning works by top contemporary artists, which were then donated to major institutions.

The Bohen acquistion added a number of important contemporary artworks to the Guggenheim collection. As well as those artists mentioned above, it included large-scale video installations by Bill Viola, Stan Douglas, and Steve McQueenas well as important photographs and works in other mediums by Damien Hirst, Sophie Calle, Glenn Ligon, Suzanne McClelland, Vik Muniz, Peter Campus, Ilya Kabakov, Sally Mann, Michael Rovner, Tom Sachs, Mike and Doug Starn, Fransesc Torres, and others. Additional gifts featured a sculptural installation by Peter Wegner, and video installations by Isaac Julien and Michael Joo.

Highlights of the Bohen Collection

Bill Viola, The Crossing, 1996
Bill Viola, The Messenger, 1996
Sally Mann, Jessie Bites, 1985
Sally Mann, Emmett and the White Boy, 1990
Sally Mann, The Perfect Tomato, 1990
Stan Douglas, Der Sandmann, 1995
Pierre Huyghe, The Third Memory, 2000
Glenn Ligon, Notes on the Margin of the Black Book, 1991–93
Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Climate, 2000
Rika Noguchi, Dreaming of Babylon 12, 1998–2000
Rika Noguchi, A Prime #14, 1999
Pipilotti Rist, Atmosphere & Instinct, 1998
Michal Rovner, China, 1995
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tyrrhenian Sea, Amalfi, 1990
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Black Sea, Ozuluce, 1991
Sam Taylor-Wood, Soliloquy II, 1998
Diana Thater, Late and Soon (Occident Trotting), 1993
Jane and Louise Wilson, Star City, 1999

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street)
New York, NY 10128-0173

Guggenheim Art Museums in Europe

Berlin Guggenheim
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Venice Guggenheim


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