This format will be slightly different than previous posts. I do not often (ever) discuss or write on places I’ve visited and what my experience was. I have come to the conclusion that there is some value to this as well – so let’s consider this entry as my first ‘diary’ post. All photos used within this post were captured by myself during the date.
Unfortunately, there has been quite a passage of time since visiting these places, which diminishes my recollection. I was in New York in the summer of 2019. Therefore, before it further extends into the void, let’s get started post-haste.
I had just got out of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) from just across the street (and a little ways down). That was an overwhelmingly large museum with many divergent paths and I might share my experiences in a separate future post.
But I digress, I had been looking forward to seeing the Guggenheim museum afterwards and it truly was a stark contrast to the MET yet complementary.
The Guggenheim is a straight-forward, singular, winding path with the exhibits lining the walls. You are unable to miss any particular exhibit; unless you’re on auto-pilot and not fixating your gaze on the outer walls. The mere act of forward motion will take you up the winding path through the exhibits sequentially.
Some of the exhibits are permanent and some routinely change. The artwork consists of paintings, sculptures, photos, and installation art. These are primarily ‘non-objective’ art collected by Solomon R. Guggenheim.
Be particularly careful with some installation art as there will be taped marks on the ground indicating how close you are allowed to it. There are attendants watching carefully to scold you if you cross these lines. The installation art might not have been something you would immediately recognize as art, such as a chair, and it could be potentially embarrassing to be called out publicly. Note: It did not happen to me, but I did see it happen!
Admittedly, a lot of the art was not to my taste; but that’s the case with all art museums to a certain degree. There was a few pieces which resonated with me and there were some I ‘did not get’.
The corridor eventually winds up to its crescendo, a separate exhibit room that houses a regularly changing exhibit that is the focal point of the advertising for the period it is housed there. During my visit, this was Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story. This was an exhibition of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat supplemented with work by others of his generation, showcasing cultural activism in New York City during the early 1980s and was featured at the Guggenheim from June 2019 – November 2019.
“The exhibition takes as its starting point the painting The Death of Michael Stewart, informally known as Defacement, created by Basquiat in 1983 to commemorate the fate of the young, black artist Michael Stewart at the hands of New York City transit police after allegedly tagging a wall in an East Village subway station. Originally painted on the wall of Keith Haring’s studio, the work was not meant to be seen widely and has rarely been exhibited in a public context.”
This exhibit was most assuredly the highlight of the Guggenheim upon my visit and it had other works from contemporaries such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. This exhibit had a strong thematic and cohesive message.
After completing this trek upwards and before you descend; you can utilize the single restroom I saw available (Which is a single occupancy washroom and I recall waiting awhile to utilize it!).
You can descend by elevator, or just walk the pathway down to the bottom. I opted to walk down, it does not take more than a minute unless you revisit the exhibits along the way.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim museum and its collection of non-objective art is not for everyone but I feel any art aficionado will find value in visiting this unique museum. Depending on how long you view the artwork your mileage may vary considerably; it is a small collection compared to other museums. I would budget at least 2 hours to be safe; but I do believe I felt I got a full experience of everything within an hour.
I think I saw it ideally by visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) upon opening and then heading here after (It’s a stone’s throw away! A few minutes of walking!) to finish the day.