Last week the ninth grade visited the Guggenheim with their art teacher Ms. Meigs. They were lucky to enjoy a sunny day and walked from school to the museum. They arrived just as the doors were opening and met their educational guide in the rotunda.
Before entering the exhibition, they spent time looking at the architecture of the iconic building. They learned the history of the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and were surprised to learn that the initial response to the building was not all positive. They were given time to observe the space, sketch what they saw, and then discussed their observations. They noticed circular shapes in many places, from the floor to the walls and up to the ceiling. They noticed how the shape of the building drew their attention to the oculus, or the eye in the sky, and marveled at how the natural light filled the space.
After this introduction they began to explore the current exhibition, Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future. Before learning about the history of the artist, they spent time looking closely at some of her paintings and drew from a painting of their choice. Through drawing they were able to notice details that they had not noticed while looking.
As they made their way through the exhibition they learned about the artist and began to identify her visual vocabulary. They clearly saw her departure from the figurative paintings she created to make a living to the abstract paintings that she made in secret. Influenced by spiritualism, she created a group with four female friends called The Five, and together they documented their séances through automatic drawings. Imagery from these drawings appeared in paintings throughout af Klint’s career. The boys were intrigued when they heard of af Klint’s specific wishes for how her abstract paintings should be seen. She believed her paintings would not be shown until after her death, and she described a temple in which they would be shown. As the boys heard the description of the temple, they were amazed by how similar the temple description was to the Guggenheim.
The boys had a wonderful time on their hour-long tour and wished they could have spent more time there. Special thanks to the Guggenheim educational staff and to Ms. Meigs for organizing this terrific trip.