Abu Dhabi to Host Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Museum

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Abu Dhabi to Host First Exhibition in the Middle East of Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection of the Guggenheim Museum


Opening November 17, 2009, the Exhibition Illuminates the Formative Years of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Mission, and Looks Toward the Development of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum

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(NEW YORK, NY – October 1, 2009) – More than fifty masterful paintings from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, representing the work of over forty of the most important artists of the twentieth century, will be on view in Abu Dhabi from November 17, 2009, to February 4, 2010 in the exhibition The Guggenheim: The Making of a Museum. The exhibition is presented under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The Guggenheim: The Making of a Museum will be on view in Gallery One at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. Key works from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s collection featured in the exhibition will include Paul Cezanne’s Bend in the Road Through the Forest (1873–75), Willem de Kooning’s Composition (1955), Vasily Kandinsky’s Decisive Rose (1932), Paul Klee’s New Harmony (1936), Piet Mondrian’s Composition 8 (1914), Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 110 (1971), and Jackson Pollock’s Untitled (Green Silver) (ca. 1949).

The Guggenheim: The Making of a Museum is the first exhibition to be organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in collaboration with Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) as part of a program of art and cultural development leading up to the opening of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum. Accompanying the exhibition will be a full program of educational presentations.

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, which will open in 2013 as part of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island Cultural District, is being founded to fulfill an educational mission centered on the art of today. The museum will be housed in a distinctive building designed by Frank Gehry, one of the world’s most renowned contemporary architects. Like the Guggenheim in New York, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum will build a permanent collection that reflects a specific point of view about the art of our time, namely its essentially global orientation. The new museum will include not only key examples of Western art, but also the rich and diverse fields of Asian, African, South American, and Middle Eastern art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Exhibition Overview
The Guggenheim: The Making of a Museum charts the history of the Guggenheim’s collection from 1929, when American businessman Solomon R. Guggenheim began to actively acquire modern art, to 1959, when the landmark Frank Lloyd Wright–designed museum building bearing the founder’s name opened to the public. The works in the show reflect the particular emphases of the collection and exhibition program during these formative years, thereby calling attention to the ways in which the time period, place, and individuals involved in the making of a museum have an impact on the mission of the institution. In this way, the exhibition also points toward the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum.

This exhibition explores the history of abstract painting in Western art during the first half of the twentieth century. The pictures in the first three sections of the show, many of them drawn from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, represent a particularly fertile period in art history. During the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth century, artists associated with the most important movements in the West—among them Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Neo-Plasticism—broke with the traditional view that visual art should faithfully reproduce the visible world. These artists’ pioneering styles opened up a number of new formal possibilities that radically transformed both the look and content of art and in so doing inaugurated the history of modern art in the West.

This presentation begins with Cézanne and Georges Seurat, who pushed the limits of representation even further than the Impressionists and helped to solidify Paris as the leading center for experimental avant-garde art. The second half of the exhibition considers early-twentieth-century abstraction and Expressionism—represented in the show by Kandinsky and Franz Marc—and its impact on painting in Europe and the United States in the decades immediately following World War II. Pictures by De Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, and Pollock, as well as other leading Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko, are featured in the exhibition’s final section, which provides a rich overview of this watershed chapter in the history of twentieth-century abstract painting in the West.

This serves as a fitting endpoint to the presentation, as many of these artists and some of these paintings were included in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s inaugural exhibition in 1959. By that time, the range of art acquired and exhibited by the Guggenheim had expanded beyond its early emphasis on nonobjective painting, and the institution had begun to signal its interest in a more global orientation through, among other means, the establishment of the biennial Guggenheim International Award in 1956. Even as the Guggenheim underwent these changes, it continued to collect artworks and mount exhibitions that testified to the enduring power of abstraction, a reflection of the institution’s ongoing commitment to its founding mission to educate the public about the art of its time.

The exhibition is also accompanied by a fully illustrated, hardcover, bilingual catalogue (Arabic and English). The 192-page book includes a chronology of the Guggenheim from 1929 to 2009, an essay detailing the three decades (1929–59) leading up to the opening of Frank Lloyd Wright’s museum building, and texts on the developments in art history and the achievements of the featured artists.

The Guggenheim: The Making of a Museum has been organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in collaboration with the exhibition’s presenter Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the Emirate’s leading cultural and tourism asset developer.

For further information please visit artsabudhabi.ae, guggenheim.org, or tdic.ae.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation & Museum
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, and other manifestations of visual culture, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, and to collect, conserve, and study the art of our time. The foundation realizes this mission through exceptional exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications, and strives to engage and educate an increasingly diverse international audience through its unique network of museums and cultural partnerships. Currently the foundation owns and operates the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue, New York City; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy; and provides programming and management for two other museums in Europe that bear its name, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. With nearly three million annual visitors worldwide, the Guggenheim and its network of museums is one of the most visited cultural institutions in the world. In 2013 the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by architect Frank Gehry, is scheduled to open.

About TDIC
Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) is a master developer of key cultural, residential, and tourism destinations in Abu Dhabi. The principal goal of its cultural program, up to and including the creation of the Saadiyat Island Cultural District—the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions—is to establish an international platform in the UAE for arts and culture.

Unprecedented in scale and scope, the Saadiyat Island Cultural District will include museums such as Sheikh Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, all due for completion in 2013. Education is essential to fulfilling TDIC’s mission, and this initiative provides opportunities for the local and regional community to participate in programming of the highest quality; to be engaged in the city’s urban, cultural, and artistic development; and enables Emiratis and UAE residents to develop professional skills and knowledge through a dialogue with representatives from the world’s leading cultural organizations.

Alongside the Cultural District project, TDIC presents a diversified program of art exhibitions, events, and talks aimed at all levels to further engage audiences in the arts.

Media Contacts
Eleanor Goldhar, Deputy Director, External Affairs
Betsy Ennis, Director of Media and Public Relations
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
1 212 423 3528 / 1 212 423 3842
guggenheimAD@guggenheim.org

Rachel Judlowe
Kate Lydecker
Ruder Finn Arts & Communications Counselors
1 212 583 2713 / 1 212 715 1602
judlower@ruderfinn.com / lydeckerk@ruderfinn.com

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