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Living Legend
“The Guggenheim Collection” in a Guest Appearance in Bonn

Never before has the collection of the Guggenheim Foundation been presented in such a thorough, high-end way. From Monet to Warhol, from Beckmann to Barney – this lavish selection of nearly 200 masterpieces tracing the fascinating developments in 20th and 21st-century art is making its only guest appearance worldwide in Bonn. Achim Drucks introduces the exhibition highlight of the German summer of art; it could very well surpass the success story of The MoMA in Berlin.

Frank Lloyd Wrights building for the
Guggenheim Collection at Fifth Avenue in New York,
Photo: David Heald, © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

"The Guggenheim is the agent of popular culture," or "The Guggenheim is not a place" read resplendent from the large posters in front of the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn. The messages, meant to lure the public to The Guggenheim Collection, have turned out to be somewhat cryptic. Moreover, the large-scale banners have provoked controversy. Instead of appreciating the opportunity to see masterpieces from the collection of New York’s Guggenheim Foundation without having to cross the Atlantic, Bonn’s inhabitants prefer to bicker over whether the posters are disfiguring the museum’s plaza.

Franz Marc, Gelbe Kuh, 1911,
©The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Roy Lichtenstein, Grrrrrrrrrrr!!, 1965,
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006

Yet Thomas Krens, long-time director of the Guggenheim Foundation, is right with his dictum. In any case, the Guggenheim is certainly more than just a place. It also embodies a vision turned reality that’s continued to develop ever since. A worldwide art institution has grown out of the temple for non-objective art that the copper king Solomon R. Guggenheim and his advisor Hilla von Rebay commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design – with branches in New York, Bilbao, Venice, Las Vegas, and Berlin. And for six months, Bonn will now become part of the global Guggenheim complex as well.

Visiting Bauhaus in Dessau: Irene Guggenheim, Wassily Kandinsky,
Hilla Rebay and Solomon R. Guggenheim, Summer of 1930
Photo: Courtesy The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
©The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Famous museums have often made guest appearances at the Art and Exhibition Hall. But regardless of whether it’s been the Prado or the Vatican Museums presenting their collections in Bonn, the large Guggenheim show is the most ambitious to date. Never before has an exhibition taken up the entire building – and continued into the adjacent Kunstmuseum as well. On the ground floor are the foundation’s latest acquisitions, which include works commissioned for the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, while the Kunsthalle is presenting the classics ranging from Monet to Serra.

A gift by Justin K. Thannhauser:
Edouard Manet, In Front of the Miror, 1876,
©The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Here, visitors can get a feel for the impulses and movements of modern painting. Monet’s Impressionist Before the Mirror flickers in pastel hues of blue and white, while Vincent van Gogh records the Mountains at Saint Rémy in strong, expressive brush strokes. In Kandinsky’s early abstract Painting with White Border from 1913, lines and forms race wildly around the canvas. Ten years later, his Composition 8 with its straight lines, triangles, and circles floating before a placid background shows just how much his style later changed.

A gift by Solomon R. Guggenheim:
Wassily Kandinsky, Bild mit weißem Rand, Mai 1913,
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006

From the Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection:
Wassily Kandinsky, Composition, July 8, 1923,
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006

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