The Guggenheim Museum
By Celine Grajo
December, 3 2016
The busy scenery of the New York metropolitan area was strangely meditative against the calm, dimming sky, the freezing waves of the Hudson crashing against two cargo ships in the distance. The George Washington Bridge, decorated with golden bulbs and car lights, stands proud on ninety years of innovation, a strong, suspended connection between Manhattan and Fort Lee, New Jersey. As the bus drove along riverbeds, playgrounds, and old docks, the sun began to finally set, and New York City burst into life.
Opened on October 21, 1959, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is now home to an eccentric array of art, ranging from 19th century Impressionism to the early 20th century modern and contemporary movements. It is no wonder they take pride in their private collection, as it is filled with work from renowned artists like Picasso, Cezanne, Manet, Monet, and Degas. One of most recently featured exhibitions, named Tales of Our Time, is a collection of personal Chinese cultural and historical narratives from artists chosen by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. One of the most interesting pieces from this collection was a giant mechanical paintbrush, encased in a glass box, brushing buckets of red liquid back and forth against a white floor. Its routine and methodical strokes were periodically interrupted by its spastic swinging and flailing, splashing “blood” on the glass walls. Perhaps this speaks of the repetitive violence of war, while the intrigued audience may represent how the world gazes on, motionless. Perhaps this perspective warns against the idle acceptance of the urbanization of one’s native land. Whatever message was intended, it was fascinating to watch. I asked freshman Mikaila Hulse if she had the chance to witness it; “I don’t really get modern art,” she admits.
Instead, she enjoyed the museum’s interior. an ascending spiral that was decorated with a series of paintings by abstract artist Agnes Martin. Martin’s subtle palette and strictly geometric compositions complemented Frank Lloyd Wright’s creative architectural vision. Another interesting display were words that played along the staircase, taunting the viewer to read its questions while looking silly, spinning in a circle to just read a sentence that may inspire or insult you.
Museums, in general, highlight the differences of the current age from the past, providing a link between the generations. They share, over and over again, the impact these artists made. In exposing students to different views and cultures, they are given the opportunity to better understand and empathize with strangers halfway around the world. This is extremely beneficial, as the United States has become incredibly diverse; it is also extremely necessary, for immigration laws have been a constant topic in this past election year.