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Thursday, July 07, 2005


I Know It When I See It ...

I'm not really sure just what makes a building ugly or beautiful, but to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, "I know it when I see it."

And I definitely saw it a few weeks ago at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan at Fifth Avenue and 88th Street.

The building looks a little long in the tooth from the outside - it could use a good restoration of the stucco (or whatever the finish to the concrete exterior is,) but a gem is still a gem, even if a little dusty and dirty.

This 1959 swansong to Wright's long career is, strangely, his only building in Manhattan. Wright seemed to like the "hemicycle" design pattern, and you can see an earlier version of it at the Mercedes-Benz Manhattan showroom at 430 Park Avenue.

As beautiful as the Guggenheim is from the outside, it's amazing from the inside. After standing in the lobby for a while and looking up at the spiraling gallery space, I noticed that as people walked up or down the ramps, they created an ever-shifting but integrated pattern along with the building itself.

Guggenheim Posted by Picasa

By the way, now that I look at this photo again, several weeks later, it reinforces the point I made here that my whole repetoire of photographs probably boils down to three of four distinct images. Notice how the way I framed the shot makes each level look sort of like a musical quarter-note turned on its side. Now look at this image that I took 200 miles away and less than 24 hours earlier!


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