New Harmony: Abstraction between the Wars, 1919–1939 On View May 10–September 8

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Exhibition Highlights Interwar Abstract Artists from the Permanent Collection Including Iconic Works and Lesser-Known Jewels

Exhibition:              New Harmony: Abstraction between the Wars, 1919–1939
Venue:                   Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
                              1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Location:                Annex Level 4
Dates:                    May 10–September 8, 2013
Press Viewing:       Thursday, May 9, 10 am–12 pm

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(NEW YORK, NY – April 24, 2013) — This summer the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will explore a particularly rich facet of its twentieth-century collection with an exhibition celebrating the spirited trends in abstraction embraced among international artists working in Europe between the world wars. Taken from the title of a 1936 painting by Paul Klee—an optimistic work of utopian geometry reflecting the artist’s interest in color theory and musical composition—New Harmony: Abstraction between the Wars, 1919–1939 features approximately 40 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by some 20 artists, including Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, and Joaquín Torres-García. Displaying rarely viewed objects and iconic works from the Guggenheim’s permanent collection, the exhibition will be on view from May 10 through September 8, 2013.

New Harmony: Abstraction between the Wars, 1919–1939 is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Senior Curator, Collections and Exhibitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

While some artists turned to figuration and pictorial order after World War I, a subject thoroughly explored in the Guggenheim exhibition Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936 (October 1, 2010–January 9, 2011), New Harmony embraces the avant-garde practices of abstraction in artistic nexuses across Europe. As borders were reopened or redrawn, newly invigorated centers of creative exchange emerged in European cities during the 1920s and ’30s in response to the tumult of war. De Stijl’s radical vision, as conceptualized by Dutch artists Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, sought a universal aesthetic language formed from principles of geometry, suggesting that balance and equilibrium would foster harmony in art and society. Russian Constructivists like Naum Gabo, who believed in idealistic theories of geometric abstraction, migrated west as Soviet policy began to support more conservative expression against the avant-garde arts in 1921. Likewise, the Weimar Bauhaus—a German artistic and educational community dedicated to developing a universally accessible design vocabulary—became home to artists with socially minded ideals devoted to abstraction. The faculty included Josef Albers, Vasily Kandinsky, Klee, and László Moholy-Nagy, among others.

Other interwar artists endeavored to provoke reactions by surrendering rational control or turning to Freudian theory. Kurt Schwitters explored unexpected combinations incorporating detritus of everyday life among abstract formal elements in a quest for “freedom from all fetters,” as evident in his Merz works, collages, paintings, and environments. Even among the largely representational imagery of Surrealism the abstract realm of biomorphic forms became a primary element of expression through the influence of Joan Miró’s paintings and Jean Arp’s sculptures and reliefs.

Abstract art, born in the prewar heyday of the avant-garde, remained vibrant in the interwar period and offered opportunities to artists for reflection and continued exploration. Through the presentation of diverse abstract styles drawn from the Guggenheim’s holdings, New Harmony brings together some of the most influential artists working in Europe between the world wars.

Education and Public Programs
Details on the public programs presented in conjunction with New Harmony: Abstraction between the Wars, 1919–1939 are available at Highlights below:

Around the Circle: Fresh Perspectives on Abstraction
Wed, May 29, 6:30 pm
Thurs, June 13, 6:30 pm
Tues, July 16, 6:30 pm
Led by an art historian, an artist, and museum educators, this series offers lively opportunities for the public to engage with New Harmony: Abstraction between the Wars, 1919–1939 by presenting recent scholarship, an artist’s point of view, and a two-way dialogue on art. All programs are followed by an exhibition viewing of New Harmony and a reception.

$15, $10 members, $5 for students and interns with a valid ID (limited capacity). Tickets available in May at

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao which opened in 1997, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, currently in development. Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum. More information about the foundation can be found at

Adults $22, students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. Available with admission or by download to personal devices, the Guggenheim’s new, free app offers an enhanced visitor experience. The app features content on current exhibitions, including New Harmony, access to more than 900 works in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection, and facts about the museum’s landmark building. Verbal imaging tours are also included for the visually impaired.

Museum Hours: Sun–Wed, 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri, 10 am–5:45 pm; Sat, 10 am–7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information, call 212 423 3500 or visit the museum online at:

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Password: presspass

April 24, 2013

Samantha Weiss, Media and Public Relations Associate
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
212 423 3840

László Moholy-Nagy, A II, 1924. Oil on canvas, 115.8 × 136.5 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection. © 2013 Artist's Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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