I’ve heard architect snobs snidly refer to the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum as a parking ramp. It features a floor that gradually winds up six stories. Exhibits are mounted along the length of the walk (in the case below, a Kandinsky retrospective).
The same idiots who call the rotunda a parking ramp have referred to the exterior as a giant toilet bowl. I think the building is beautiful, inside and out.
James Turrell uses the rotunda as his canvas. He has worked since the late 1960’s with light as his primary medium. His installation, Aten Reign, is a brilliant example of how environmental art can envelope you. A white fabric scrim was installed in the rotunda and colored lights are projected onto it. Viewers are seated on the ground floor in seats that are angled up towards the rotunda, or they lay down on a huge futon in the center of the room.
One of its designers describes the work as a stack of five giant lampshades as seen from the inside.
The colors slowly move across the spectrum, the full cycle taking about 60 minutes. Each level is a different hue of the base color.
Lying down and starring into the slowly changing light is a meditative experience. The ground floor and visitors fade away. You’re pulled into the work and lose your sense of time and place.
None of these photos have been retouched in any way. It really does look this bizarre.
There are four other light pieces by Turrell in this exhibit, which I will post photos of later. They’re interesting, but they don’t have the breadth or impact of this main showcase piece. How could they?
There’s no limit to the amount of time you can spend in the rotunda. People wait patiently for a spot to open and when someone finally gets up to leave, they pounce. The exhibit is a huge hit, as you can imagine. If you’re a museum member, you can attend private “quiet hour” sessions after the museum closes. If you’ve always been curious about psilocybin mushrooms, this might be a good place to experiment.
I am highly susceptible to this sort of spectacle. I willingly give myself over to the artist’s vision. It took several minutes but I lost myself in the piece/peace. I forgot my troubles and floated up into the slowly-changing colors. To enhance the experience, I did what anyone who grew up in my generation would do:
Peek-a-boo, bitches. The exhibit runs through September 25th. Come to town and I’ll get you in for free. Don’t ask me how I can do it. Just be glad I can do it.