Current and upcoming Guggenheim exhibits
Few photographers have obtained the mythic stature of Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989), whose style imparted an austere, almost brutal, beauty to controversial subject matter. Mapplethorpe’s large-format, black-and-white photos (produced, more often than not, within the controlled environs of a studio) reflected his life as a gay artist working in the Downtown demimonde of post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS new York—a period when the utopian promise of sexual liberation gave way to the fear of plague. Indeed, Mapplethorpe seemed to find a connection between eros and thanatos in almost all of his photos, from floral still-lives to homoerotic celebrations of the male body. Those images and more are recalled in this two-part retrospective marking the 30th anniversary of the his death.
For this deep dive into the Guggenheim’s holdings of 20th-century art, curatorial duties are being handed over to six artists—Paul Chan, Cai Guo-Qiang, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Richard Prince and Carrie Mae Weems—who’ve had previous solo shows at the Gugg. Some 100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper will chart the course of modernism, from the avant-garde energy of its early days to the fin de sciecle weariness of its closing chapters, through the differing perspectives of each artist.
The Guggenheim bestows the twelfth edition of its annual $100,000 prize and accompanying solo exhibition to sculptor Simone Leigh whose work could be described as a kind of homage to the strength and fortitude that African-American women have displayed in the face of adversity throughout American history, from the travails of slavery to the Black Lives Matter protests of today. One such figure was Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897), and abolitionist and former slave who wrote a harrowing account of her years hiding from her masters in the rafters of her grandmother’s house. Her story provides the inspiration for the exhibition, which includes ceramic objects and a sound installation. This year is shaping up to be a huge one for the Chicago-born artist: In addition to this show, she will making an appearance in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and will also inaugurate the High Line's new public art platform, The Plinth, with a monumental, 16-foot-tall bust of a black woman.
Presented as an ongoing exhibition, The Guggenheim’s core collection of 19th- and early-20th Century European art comprises works by Manet, Matisse, Gauguin and Picasso, to name just a very few. It was permanently gifted to the museum in 1978 by the family of eponymous benefactor Justin K. Thannhauser, whose father Louis was a pioneering modern art dealer in Munich during the early 1900s.