Art from our Future | The Guggenheim

A gallery featuring works of 2nd through 6th grade students participating in the Guggenheim Museum’s Learning Through Art (LTA)* programme.

Art raw, primitive, edgy, unskilled. So expressive, so tender – so very precious.

Enjoy!

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*Founded in 1970, LTA places teaching artists into New York City public schools in all five boroughs to provide year long art residencies that support the curriculum while developing artistic, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.

Museums on Fifth Avenue|The Guggenheim

The streets surrounding Central Park are bursting with luxury apartments, hotels, embassies, posh establishments and a vast array of museums, in an interesting mix of past, present and future, where the nouveau riche meet old money – very serious money.

The concentration of splendour, culture and wealth in these few blocks is so dense it needs to be consumed in moderation or else the unsuspecting visitor risks falling into the ”too much, too soon” trap.

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Most museums in the periphery are located on the Upper East Side, the section of 5th Avenue that became known as the Museum Mile. It is named after the festival held every year in June when, for one day, the car traffic is replaced by musical entertainment, artistic events and parades, with those museums that take part, offering free admittance.

Tip: Think twice before you buy one of the numerous city passes saving money on entry fees and giving free access to hundreds of attractions. Be sure to focus on those you actually want to see and scrap the rest – most likely you won’t find the time or energy to make it there. Also, it is worth remembering that a lot of attractions and museums offer free entry or operate under the ”pay-what-you-wish” scheme. Pay what you wish means exactly that – no questions asked. Have a look on this link, or check further on line.

Staying true to ”moderate consumption”, we only made it to three museums on 5th Avenue, very different in size and content and all incredibly interesting; but the most architecturally – and visually – stimulating of all is, without a doubt, the Guggenheim.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s futuristic spiral design with its white minimal surfaces, winding ramp and interconnected galleries, is mesmerizing both inside and out.  And yet, it attracted a lot of criticism even before its completion in 1959, not least by the artists themselves, who felt that the building would overpower their art.

Wright responded “On the contrary, it was to make the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before.” Mr Wright has most certainly succeeded but the critics had a point: this stunning, geometric and harmonious yet somehow appearing natural and organic structure does stand out; and it takes a lot of focusing not to be distracted by it.

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Its spiralling design reminded me of ”Vertigo”, one of my favourite paintings by Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert (1881 – 1946):

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Vertigo, 1908. Léon Spilliaert. Museum of Fine Arts, Ostend

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”Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe” was running when we visited, an exhibition showing key works of artists of the Futurist Movement.

The Guggenheim imposes strict rules about photography: allowed in the main lobby but not in the galleries or  from the upper floors looking down. This is obviously to prevent an accident and with good reason. I was only reminded of Vertigo and generally feel confident leaning from balconies (hence the sneaked pics) but others might be just steps away from actually experiencing it.

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Aristide Maillol (1861 – 1944). Pomona with Lowered Arms (Pomone aux bras tombants), 1937

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Giacomo Balla, Patriotic Demonstration (Dimostrazione patriottica), 1915. Oil on canvas. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

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Mr Wright’s uninterrupted, beautiful symphony extended to places less likely to be noticed. Yet, it’s the aesthetic detail that makes all the difference:  a waste collection corner, artfully concealed.

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Shared photo credits (Konstantinos & Lia)

New York, 13 June 2014

Central Park | New York

We crisscrossed the park many times; hardly a day went by without meandering through its winding paths and tracks of various lengths, widths and directions. For Central Park is a trip, a destination, a meeting point, a playground and recreation park, all at once; it is the heart and lungs of the city; and it is teaming with life.

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So we strolled and explored and took deep breaths, the air moist, but still pleasantly so in June; we rested our aching feet on some of the 9.000 wooden benches that dot the park, some of which are adopted and carry personalised messages on plaques fixed on their back. We sat and watched people watching people go by and listened to lively conversations from the neighbouring benches.

We meditated over calm ponds, bright green from algae and the reflections of leafy trees and shrubs on the water. There is something very tranquil about the ponds – in sharp contrast to the bustling city sounds a couple of hundred metres away.

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We let our gaze travel leisurely across the Reservoir named after Jackie Kennedy Onassis, soaking up the breathtaking view; we annoyed dozens of runners on the dirt truck that circles it, by going clockwise before noticing the signs directing the flow anticlockwise; we still ignored them anyway.

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We walked the perfect arch of the Bow Bridge.

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We sat on the fresh green lawn of the Sheep Meadow, where flocks of sheep were grazing until 1934, and flocks of people are basking ever since. We watched the park changing mood.

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We walked across Strawberry Fields, the memorial paying tribute to John Lennon and walked past the Dakota, one of Manhattan’s most exclusive and star-studded apartment blocks, Lennon’s home until his untimely, tragic death in 1980. It occurred to me that for all his activism, connections to the hippie movement, turbulent personal life and troubles with the authorities, Lennon hadn’t done too bad for the posh side of himself!

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Finally, one day, this… *A smile in the sky! A tiny inverted rainbow on a bright, sunny day. You gotta love New York!

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* The phenomenon or “smile in the sky” only occurs when thin wispy cirrus clouds – made of ice crystals – are at a specific angle to the sun. Cirrus clouds normally form at between 18.000 and 40.000ft, so circumzenithal arcs appear much higher in the sky and are usually obscured by clouds. They are more common in cold climates, but still fairly rare.

Shared photo credits (Konstantinos & Lia)

New York, 01-22 June 2014