21 Oct: Welcome To The Guggenheim

Frank Lloyd Wright’s extraordinary Guggenheim building finally flung open its doors on 21st October, 1959, after a gestation period of two decades – during which time both Wright, and Solomon Guggenheim himself, had died.

The reaction was mixed. Art critics panned the design, likening it to “a washing machine”, an “inverted oatmeal bowl”, and an “oversized and indigestible hot cross bun”. Even those who praised the architecture mostly felt it nonetheless overwhelmed the modern art displayed within it.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the notoriously nature-loving Wright had been persuaded to work on such an quintessentially urban project; reveal what colour Wright had intended the famously off-white exterior to be; and discover the attempt by artists and intellectuals to stop the beloved museum ever being built… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Guggenheim Museum Opens in New York City’ (HISTORY, 2009): https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/guggenheim-museum-opens-in-new-york-city

• ‘What Wright Hath Wrought’ (The New Yorker, 1959): https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1959/12/05/what-wright-hath-wrought

• ‘American Built: An architect who broke all the rules’ (Fox Business, 2022):

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2022.