And finally, we tick our last Guggenheim – the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum – off the list; a trek that’s taken us to Bilbao, Berlin and New York. It’s particularly fitting that we finish here at the Venetian, Las Vegas as our first Guggenheim was Venice.
Together with the Bellagio’s Gallery of Fine Art (which we missed because our otherwise excellent guide book got the opening times wrong), the Guggenheim Hermitage is leading moves to take Las Vegas upmarket. The Venetian not only replicates Venice inside and out, it’s the city’s first all-suite hotel, where even the most modest accommodation includes canopy-draped bed, spacious sunken living room, a couple of large screen TVs and the rest. Surprisingly, you can get all this from less than $200 (£100) a night.
A partnership with the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, the job of Guggenheim Hermitage is to add some culture to the Las Vegas mix. Like Deutsche Guggenheim, this is a gallery rather than a full size museum, but being Las Vegas no corners are cut and the steel panel walls are designed to somehow evoke the velvet of the Hermitage. It’s certainly an oasis of calm.
With the Russians a little cool on cultural exchanges just now (as befits a regime keen to shore up its position by promoting a siege mentality among the people) the current exhibition is pure Guggenheim.
Modern Masters from the Guggenheim Collection explores and challenges the five categories of acceptable subject matter defined by the French Academy of Art in 1648. The five genres and the hierarchy that goes with them seem ridiculously snobbish today but, to be fair, it was more than 200 years before Edouard Manet successfully challenged the Academy with Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass). That painting sadly isn’t here because it’s at Musée d’Orsay, Paris, but plenty of good stuff is.
Organised by genre are 37 works from 24 artists including Manet, Cézanne, Picasso, van Gogh, Kandinsky and Klee. All of which makes for a compact, but intellectually robust, show.