The Great Upheaval at Guggenheim Museum

The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910–1918
Guggenheim Museum
February 4 – June 1, 2011

Amedeo Modigliani
When Vasily Kandinsky and Franz Marc formed the group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) in late 1911, the artists predicted a watershed in the arts, a große Umwälzung (great upheaval) that would radically challenge traditional artistic production. Tremendous creativity and innovation characterized the years leading up to World War I. European cities were evolving, and the artistic avant-garde likewise adapted and responded to twentieth-century modernity, from its spectacles and technological feats to the social fragmentation and alienation of the modern metropolis. Cubism achieved recognition in Paris, sparking new directions in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia. Art’s more expressionistic manifestations were at an equally momentous stage in Germany and Austria; Kandinsky wrote his influential treatise Über das Geistige in der Kunst. Insbesondere in der Malerei (On the Spiritual in Art: And Painting in Particular) in late 1911, and abstraction took hold.

The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910–1918 illuminates the dynamism of this fertile period, as artists hurtled toward abstraction and the ultimate “great upheaval” of a catastrophic war, and also highlights the masterpieces of modern art that launched the museum’s collection. The exhibition unites the Guggenheim Foundation’s remarkable collections in New York and Venice in order to trace the origins of the museum and capture the spirit and dynamism of the European avant-garde. Featuring more than one hundred paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by 48 artists including Umberto Boccioni, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, Kazimir Malevich, Marc, and Pablo Picasso, among others, The Great Upheaval attests to this period of collaboration, interchange, synthesis, and innovation. The exhibition is curated by Tracey Bashkoff, Curator, Collections and Exhibitions, and Megan Fontanella, Assistant Curator, Collections and Provenance.