Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum



An Anniversary Benefit Exhibition

Nearly 200 Artists, Architects, and Designers Imagine Dream Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum as Finale to 50th Anniversary Year

Venue:     Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Dates:      February 12–April 28, 2010
Preview:   Friday, February 12, 2010, 9–11 am

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Download a PDF of a complete list of participants.

NEW YORK, NY (December 17, 2009)–Since its opening in 1959, the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Guggenheim building has served as an inspiration for invention, challenging artists and architects to react to its eccentric, organic design. The central void of the rotunda has elicited many unique responses over the years, which have been manifested in both site-specific solo shows and memorable exhibition designs. For the building’s 50th anniversary, the Guggenheim Museum invited scores of artists, architects and designers to imagine their dream interventions in the space for the exhibition Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum. Organized by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and David van der Leer, Assistant Curator for Architecture and Design, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the exhibition will feature renderings of these visionary projects in a salon-style installation that will emphasize the rich and diverse range of the proposals received. Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum will be on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from February 12 to April 28, 2010.

Aristotle famously pronounced that nature abhors a vacuum, an idea that still resonates in art today. In designing the Guggenheim Museum, Wright flaunted the notion of the void, leaving the center tantalizingly (or threateningly) empty. Over the years, when creating site-specific installations or exhibition designs for the building, artists and architects have imbued the space with their presences, inspiring unforgettable works by Matthew Barney, Cai Guo- Qiang, Frank Gehry, Jenny Holzer, and Nam June Paik, among others. For the building’s 50th anniversary, the Guggenheim invited scores of artists to leave practicality or even reality behind in conjuring their proposals for the space. In this exhibition of ideal projects, certain themes emerge, including the return to nature in its primordial state, the desire to climb the building, the interplay of light and space, the interest in diaphanous effects as a counterpoint to the concrete structure, and the impact of sound on the environment. Conceived as both a commemoration and a self-reflexive folly, Contemplating the Void confirms how truly catalytic the architecture of the Guggenheim can be.

Submissions were received from all over the world from a wide range of artists, designers, and architects, including emerging as well as established practitioners. Among the many works in the exhibition are projects by artists Alice Aycock, FAKE DESIGN (Ai Weiwei), Anish Kapoor, Sarah Morris, Wangechi Mutu, Mike Nelson, Paul Pfeiffer, Doris Salcedo, Lawrence Weiner, and Rachel Whiteread; designers such as Fernando and Humberto Campana, Martí Guixé, Joris Laarman Studio, and Studio Job; and architects such as Álvaro Siza Vieira Arquitecto, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Greg Lynn FORM, junya.ishigami+associates, MVRDV, N55, Philippe Rahm, Snøhetta, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, and West 8. In addition to the exhibition in the Thannhauser and Annex Level 4 galleries, Contemplating the Void will be accompanied by a comprehensive exhibition website, which will document each submission and feature introductory essays texts by Nancy Spector and David van der Leer.

Benefit Event
March 4, 2010

Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum will also function as a 50th anniversary fundraiser for the museum. Many of the works on view will be sold through silent auction conducted during a benefit event on March 4, 2010, with an online component so that those who are unable to attend may participate. More than 95% of the artists featured in Contemplating the Void have gifted their works to this endeavor, and proceeds from the sale will support the museum’s exhibition programming. For more information about the benefit event and auction, contact Ben Whine, Associate Director of Individual Development, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, at or visit

Works & Process at the Guggenheim
Hypermusic: Ascension

Thursday, March 11, 6:30 and 8:30 pm
In conjunction with the exhibition, Works & Process at the Guggenheim presents Hypermusic: Ascension. Harvard physicist Lisa Randall, Spanish composer Hèctor Parra, and artist Matthew Ritchie collaborate on this new site-specific monodrama in the rotunda, which inverts and reinvigorates the genre of opera with an experimental score suggesting the expanding reality of a fifth dimension.
For more information about this program, contact Duke Dang, General Manager of Works & Process at the Guggenheim at or 212 758 0024.
$30; $25 Guggenheim Members; $10 Students (25 and under with valid student ID). For tickets, call the Box Office at 212 423 3587, Monday–Friday, 1–5 pm, or visit

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. Currently the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation owns and operates the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, and also provides programming and management for two other museums in Europe that bear its name: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by architect Frank Gehry, is scheduled to open in 2013.

Adults $18, students/seniors (65+) $15, members and children under 12 free. Admission includes audio-guide tour.

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

#1143 - February 10, 2010 (Updated from December 17, 2009)

Betsy Ennis, Director of Media and Public Relations
Claire Laporte, Publicist
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
212 423 3840

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