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Deutsche Guggenheim Commissions

Beginning in 1997 and ending in 2013, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank undertook a unique and ambitious program of contemporary art commissions, enabling the Guggenheim to act as a catalyst for artistic production. The participants in the fifteen-year commission series included both established and younger artists of various nationalities, working in a diversity of mediums, from paintings and photographs to large-scale sculptural and video installations.

In 1997, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank created the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. The 350-square-meter space, designed by American architect Richard Gluckman, and located in Deutsche Bank’s offices on Unter den Linden, hosted a dynamic modern and contemporary art exhibition program, which often drew directly from the extensive art holdings of both organizations. Focused, scholarly loan exhibitions such as No Limits Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Works on Paper (2005) and Divisionism/Neo-Impressionism: Arcadia and Anarchy (2007) premiered in Berlin before traveling to other museums in the Guggenheim network. The collaboration engendered 61 exhibitions from which 18 were artist commissions.

The defining feature of this institutional collaboration was the Deutsche Guggenheim Commission program: contemporary artists were commissioned to create artworks or series, which debuted in Berlin in exhibitions organized by Guggenheim Museum curators with the participation of the artist. Over time, many of these works have been shown in New York and Bilbao, loaned to other art institutions, and entered the Guggenheim Foundation’s permanent collection.

A number of the commissions strengthened the Guggenheim Foundation’s existing commitments to particular artists, while others established new working relationships and expanded the museum’s contemporary collection. The 18 artists who participated in the series comprise various nationalities, genders, and generations, and work in a diversity of mediums: Paweł Althamer, John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Anish Kapoor, William Kentridge, Jeff Koons, Julie Mehretu, Gabriel Orozco, Gerhard Richter, James Rosenquist, Andreas Slominski, Agathe Snow, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Viola, Jeff Wall, Phoebe Washburn, Lawrence Weiner, and Rachel Whiteread.

Richard Armstrong, Director of the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, summarized the joint project: “a unique collaboration that has not only provided a vital and dynamic exhibition space in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, but has also resulted in the creation of many outstanding new works of art by some of the most important artists of our time.” The legacy of that relationship lives on through the artworks themselves, many of which are now a part of the Guggenheim’s permanent collection.

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