Magazine article Artforum International

Circus Circus

Magazine article Artforum International

Circus Circus

Article excerpt

WHILE THE LAS VEGAS STRIP is home to a facsimile of Manhattan, a faux Paris, and an ersatz Venice, the avenue's newest addition, believe it or not, will be a real museum: the latest branch of the Solomon R. Guggenheim. Even stranger, in a second venture at the same site, the Guggenheim is partnering with the venerable State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to bring the likes of Cezanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky to the land of Wayne Newton, drive-through wedding chapels, and Elvis impersonators. "Although I could have scarcely imagined working in Las Vegas even one year ago--my first visit to the city took place only at the beginning of this year--the fascination of the place is undeniable," explains Thomas Krens, the Guggenheim's director, who cites Robert Venturi's classic architectural panegyric Learning from Las Vegas as partial inspiration for the locale.

The Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum (in an effort to keep the partnership fair and square, half the signs there read "Guggenheim-Hermitage") is set to open this spring inside the 3,000-room Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino. The space is designed by none other than Rem Koolhaas, the Pritzker Prize--winning Dutch architect and Harvard professor who famously espouses the breaking down of barriers between high and low culture. (Other recent commissions include a concert hall in Portugal and Prada boutiques in San Francisco, New York, and Beverly Hills.) Koolhaas's design for the museum's intimate exhibition spaces demands a mere 7,660 square feet from the Venetian. …

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