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21 April 2024

Guggenheim architects and artists fill 'void' with ideas

The museum's rotunda has been the empty, enigmatic heart of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. (AFP)

By Sebastian Smith

What do almost 200 artists and architects answer when asked how to fill a vast empty space in the middle of New York? Useful things like: fill it with coffee.

The Guggenheim Museum's rotunda has been the empty, enigmatic heart of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building since it was opened exactly 50 years ago.

Now, in the finale of events commemorating that half century, the museum has invited 193 artists from around the world to imagine how they would use the space.

The results, seen in the exhibition "Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum" that opened Friday, don't literally seek to bung up the famous white cylinder between the rotunda's snaking walkways.

Instead, this is a test of the imagination – and humour – of artists including Anish Kapoor and Alice Aycock, designers such as Fernando and Humberto Campana, and architects including BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group).

So how do they fill the void?

Several of the submissions, made in everything from elaborate paintings to sketches and precise architectural drawings, revolve around establishing a primeval forest in the 5th Avenue rotunda. Saunders Architecture from Norway submitted a digital print showing Frank Lloyd Wright himself relaxing in a forest glade bounded by the spiraling ramps.

Others suggest using sound to fill the space.

Cuban-born Carlos Garaicoa drew up plans for suspending every instrument from a full philharmonic orchestra, then playing the "chaos" of an orchestra's tune-up session.

In a work called "Prelude", Kris Martin, born in Belgium, suggests a game of Chinese whispers. (AFP)


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