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Culture

The Guggenheim Collection Comes to Germany

The Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn is showing works from the Guggenheim collection from July. In an interview with DW-WORLD.DE, one of the project managers talks about the Guggenheim's appeal and the exhibit's concept.

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Kandinsky's 1923 composition will also be on show

The Gugge n heim collectio n with its fasci n ati n g history has n ever before bee n prese n ted so exte n sively. Preparatio n s for the exhibitio n at the Art a n d Exhibitio n Hall of Germa n y i n Bo n n are goi n g full steam ahead. The effort has bee n e n ormous. Four curators -- two i n Bo n n a n d two i n New York -- have bee n worki n g o n a co n cept a n d impleme n ti n g it for over a year. Kay Heymer is o n e of the project ma n agers.

DW-WORLD.DE: The Gugge n heim collectio n is o n e of the most famous of its ki n d i n the world. What makes the Gugge n heim Museum so successful?

Kay Heymer: The Guggenheim Museum distinguishes itself through the fact that it is a very personal museum. The collectors which contributed to the museum's development were all very eccentric personalities. It started with the founding director Hilla von Rebay, a German painter who strongly promoted abstract painting. Later, the focus of the Guggenheim Museum was strongly expanded and other personalities played a major role: on the one hand, the directors, such as Tom Krens today, and on the other hand, private collectors, like the Thannhauser couple or later Peggy Guggenheim, Solomon Guggenheim's niece. She strongly supported surrealism and American abstract expressionism.

Guggenheim Museum New York

The Guggenheim Museum in New York was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

The character of the Guggenheim Museum is very selective. It isn't a collection which functions like an encyclopedia, like the Museum of Modern Art, which gives an overview of artistic development in the 20th century. Guggenheim collected much more subjectively. There were a few artists he concentrated on, who were then extensively collected. The museum owns, for example, 160 pieces alone from Kandinsky, or over 60 works by Paul Klee.

What disti n guishes the Bo n n exhibit?

We have tried to reflect in the exhibition's concept how the structure of the Guggenheim collection developed and what distinguishes it. So, we have rooms which can be seen historically, such as the "Peggy Guggenheim Collection" and surrealism, or a room on post-impressionism, which is owed to the Thannhauser collection. On the other hand, we've installed monographic rooms, in which only works from one artist are exhibited. So we have a Picasso room, two Kandinsky rooms, a room with Robert Rauschenberg and a room only for Richard Serra.

Why was Bo n n chose n for this exhibit, i n stead of Berli n , which hosted the MOMA exhibit?

Guggenheim-Ausstellung in Bonn

Kay Heymer with a model of the exhibition

Of course, Bonn is a smaller city than Berlin. But Bonn has a larger art museum. Tom Krens was mainly interested in the many square meters available to us. The large hall in particular, in which Tom Krens for the first time can give an insight into the Guggenheim's very large collection of minimal art. The Guggenheim exhibit here in Bonn will cover some 8,000 square meters (86,000 square feet). And Berlin's National Gallery can't offer that much space.

How were the i n dividual pieces chose n for the exhibitio n ?

We worked very closely with our colleagues in New York. We started with the rooms we have available. We developed a specific architecture from these very clear and simple rooms and then filled them according to the concept. We combined the individual artists on the one hand with the collection's history and also the art historical aspects, in order to enable a chronological course through the Guggenheim Foundation.

Which piece do you fi n d particularly outsta n di n g?

Guggenheim-Ausstellung in Bonn Richard Serra Strike

Richard Serra: "Strike"

One can generally say that the Guggenheim Museum has a large number of true masterpieces. I personally like the room with Richard Serra very much, where there's a significant early sculpture from 1970. It's an iron plate which is seven meters (23 feet) long and 2.5 meters high, weighs eight tons and which will be very complicated to get into the building here. It's called "Strike."

What sort of experie n ce ca n the visitor take home with them?

In the ideal case, the visitor has seen how fascinating and alive art of the 20th and early 21st century is. And that the observer can see this art not only with his eyes, but it can include and appeal to his entire body. Art can be a very sensuous experience. Take the labyrinth by Robert Morris, for example. This piece has a nine-meter diameter and is four meters high. The visitor can go through very tight aisles to get to the center of the labyrinth. And he will certainly need 20 to 30 minutes to deal with this piece. So it will be a physical challenge for the visitor.

Guggenheim-Ausstellung in Bonn

Robert Morris: "Labyrinth"

The Gugge n heim exhibitio n ru n s from July 21, 2006 to Ja n . 7, 2007.

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