Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection

Solomon R. Guggenheim, ca. 1930s–1040s

Solomon R. Guggenheim, ca. 1930s–1040s. The Hilla von Rebay Foundation Archive. M0007. Courtesy The Hilla von Rebay Foundation, New York, NY

Irene Guggenheim, Vasily Kandinsky, Hilla Rebay, and Solomon R. Guggenheim, Dessau, July 1930

Irene Guggenheim, Vasily Kandinsky, Hilla Rebay, and Solomon R. Guggenheim, Dessau, July 1930. The Hilla von Rebay Foundation Archive. M0007. Photo: Nina Kandinsky, courtesy The Hilla von Rebay Foundation, New York, NY

Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861–1949), with the guidance of the German artist Hilla Rebay (1890–1967), was a champion of a particular strand of abstraction known as nonobjective art, which attempted to sever ties to the observable world and aspired to spiritual and utopian goals. Beginning in 1929, Solomon built a collection that eventually included over 150 works by Vasily Kandinsky, whose oeuvre epitomized this tendency, as well as paintings by such notable exponents as Rudolf Bauer, Robert Delaunay, László Moholy-Nagy, and Rebay herself. At the same time, Solomon actively sought work that did not fit the mold of nonobjectivity, including paintings by Marc Chagall, Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, Franz Marc, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Rousseau.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum holds approximately 600 artworks that were gifted to the museum by Solomon Guggenheim between 1937 (the year of the formation of the foundation) and 1949, or purchased by the foundation during those years. These works form the core of the Guggenheim’s holdings, with such masterpieces as Franz Marc’s Yellow Cow (1911), which the artist purportedly called his “standard” (Standardwerk) for its ability to evoke spiritual awakening through color theory, and Kandinsky’s Composition 8 (1923), among the first paintings Solomon purchased for his art collection following his visit to Kandinsky’s studio in 1929. In 2007, to formally honor Solomon’s legacy, and in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the creation of the foundation, the Guggenheim assigned a special credit line to these works, designating them as part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection.

Browse works from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection in the Collection Online.

Related Exhibition

Solomon's Gift: The Founding Collection of the Guggenheim, 1937–1949
April 14, 2007–January 9, 2008

Suggested Reading

Lukach, Joan. Hilla Rebay: In Search of the Spirit. New York: George Braziller, 1983

Art of Tomorrow: Hilla Rebay and Solomon R. Guggenheim. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2005  

Guggenheim Museum

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