The first-ever artist-curated exhibition mounted at the Guggenheim celebrates the museum’s extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. Curated by Cai Guo-Qiang, Paul Chan, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Richard Prince, and Carrie Mae Weems—artists who each have had influential solo shows at the museum—Artistic License brings together both well-known and rarely seen works from the turn of the century to 1980.
Each artist was invited to make selections to shape a discrete presentation, one on each of the six levels of the rotunda. With the museum’s curators and conservators, they searched through the collection in storage, encountering renowned masterpieces while also finding singular contributions by less-prominent figures. The resulting exhibition presents nearly 300 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and installations, some never before shown, that engage with the cultural discourses of their time—from the utopian aspirations of early modernism to the formal explorations of mid-century abstraction and the sociopolitical debates of the 1960s and ’70s. On view during the 60th anniversary of the Guggenheim’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building, Artistic License honours the museum’s artist-centric ethos and commitment to art as a force for upending expectations and expanding perspectives.
Works by Ana Mendieta are included in What Could Have Been, curated by Carrie Mae Weems, on the museum's Rotunda Level 5.
This presentation focuses on the formal and metaphoric resonances of a strictly black-and-white palette across different decades, mediums, and genres, and as a conduit to expose inherent biases of museum collections focused on the Western art-historical canon. Featured works include Joseph Beuys’s installation Virgin (4 April 1979); Franz Kline’s Painting No. 7 (1952); Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Black on Gray) (1969/70); examples from Ana Mendieta’s Silueta Series, which she began in 1973; and Martin Puryear’s sculpture Bask (1976).
Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953, Portland, Oregon) is known for her artistic interrogations of systems as they relate to the constructions of power, race, gender, and class in visual representation. The survey exhibition Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video (2014) at the Guggenheim Museum traced the evolution of Weems’s career over thirty years, from her early documentary and autobiographical photographic series to the conceptual and philosophically complex works that have placed her at the forefront of contemporary art.
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