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The five best paintings at the Guggenheim New York

Check out our list of beautiful paintings owned by the world-famous Guggenheim Museum in New York City

Photograph: Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation/Kristopher McKay
Paul Gauguin, In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse (Dans la vanillère, homme et cheval), 1891

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is unique among art museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Museum of Modern Art in that it actually sits within the most famous work in its collection: The building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as the Guggenheim New York’s home. But the museum has holdings to match, especially paintings. If you’re planning to visit, here are the five best examples to watch out for.

RECOMMENDED: A full guide to the Guggenheim New York

Best paintings at the Guggenheim New York

Édouard Manet, Before the Mirror (Devant la glace), 1876

The work of Édouard Manet is often mistakenly lumped in with Impressionism because of its fluid brushwork and lucid color. In truth, Manet’s technique was the result of his close study of Spanish painters like Goya, while brighter palettes only appeared later in his work. Manet was really a provocateur, out to upend the historical conventions of painting by introducing obtrusive references to contemporary life. The matter-of-factly naked prostitute portrayed in his iconic 1863 painting, Olympia, is one example. This oil study of a lady of the evening admiring her reflection evokes a timeless theme: Venus before the mirror, a subject explored by such greats as Titian, Rubens and Vélasquez, among.

Édouard Manet, Before the Mirror (Devant la glace), 1876
Photograph: Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Paul Gauguin, In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse (Dans la vanillère, homme et cheval), 1891

Gauguin, the former tarpaulin salesman and stockbroker who famously abandoned Europe and his family to live a supposedly pure and spiritual existence in Tahiti, was a progenitor of primitivism, which looked to non-Western cultures for inspiration. But not always: this painting derives in part from a classical source: The sculptural frieze on the Parthenon.

Paul Gauguin, In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse (Dans la vanillère, homme et cheval), 1891
Photograph: Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation/Kristopher McKay

Kazimir Malevich, Morning in the Village after Snowstorm, 1912

While not as radical as Malevich’s later Suprematist compositions (like Black Square), Morning in the Village is arguably his most beautiful and sublime work. In this abstracted scene, a country hamlet stirs itself after a blizzard, its streets and rooftops blanketed by a purifying white that erupts in prismatic shards of blue and red touched with accents of yellow, black and grey. At once formal and hallucinogenic, it rivals the work of Bruegel as a panegyric to peasant life.

Kazimir Malevich, Morning in the Village after Snowstorm (Utro posle v'iugi v derevne), 1912
Photograph: Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation/Kristopher McKay

Pierre Bonnard, Dining Room on the Garden (Grande salle à manger sur le jardin), 1934–35

Bonnard was the odd man out of 20th-century art. Although a contemporary of Picasso, he made work that was considered a throwback to Impressionism. Bonnard based his canvases on heavily annotated drawings hastily scribbled on small scraps of paper. These weren’t studies so much as notes to himself, meant to jolt his recollection of a subject as he sat at his easel. Interiors like this one—created in years before his death in 1947, and mostly at the home in the South of France he shared with his wife, Marthe—are prime examples of his style. The results, lush and vibrantly colored paeans to bourgeois domesticity, also posses an otherworldly evanescence, describing a place where past and present collide, where ordinary things become extraordinary.

Pierre Bonnard, Dining Room on the Garden (Grande salle à manger sur le jardin), 1934–35
Photograph: Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS)

Pablo Picasso, Woman with Yellow Hair (Femme aux cheveux jaunes), Paris, December 1931

The subject of this painting is Marie-Thérèse Walter, who Picasso first met in 1927 when she was 17 and he was a married man of 45. She soon became his mistress and model, appearing frequently in his works during the following decade. Picasso was fond of depicting her while she slept, because he thought it captured her in her most vulnerable, intimate state. Here, she lays her head on her arm, which Picasso depicts as a fleshy, sensual extension of her flaxen locks.

Pablo Picasso, Woman with Yellow Hair (Femme aux cheveux jaunes), Paris, December 1931
Photograph: Kristopher McKay

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