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Lightning Devastates Guggenheim-Acquired “Second House” by Richard Prince

Second House, 2003. Interior view. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. © Richard Prince
The Guggenheim has been having a bizarrely off-kilter year: First, the theft of a Goya from a truck that was transporting it from the Toledo Museum in Ohio to the Guggenheim’s blockbuster Spanish paintings show. The painting was subsequently recovered, but neither the name of the shipper nor any arrests of those involved in the theft have ever been announced.
Next, the cancellation of the museum’s plans to be only American venue for another blockbuster involving the same Spanish master, Citizens and Kings: Portraiture in the Age of David and Goya, the last exhibition co-organized by its late curator, Robert Rosenblum. The Guggenheim had to pull out of the three-museum traveling show because the extensive restoration of its aging Frank Lloyd Wright building involved “unforeseen exterior restoration work, including the replacement of lights, the reinforcement of the apron slab, and exterior concrete repair,” a Guggenheim spokesperson told CultureGrrl at the time. A substitute venue had been sought but, apparently, not found.
And now, as reported yesterday by Artnet, a planned Guggenheim acquisition, Richard Prince‘s “Second House” in Rensselaerville, NY, has been destroyed. Walter Robinson writes:
On June 28, 2007, lightning hit the building, sparking a fire that reduced the wood structure to ashes.
[The Guggenheim later responded to my request for confirmation and comment, and said that the lightning strike was on June 27, not the 28th and that the damage was “significant.” See further Guggenheim updates and clarifications, below.]
According to the Guggenheim’s 2005 press release on the property’s acquisition:
Individual Car Hood sculptures in the house have been acquired by several Guggenheim trustees and patrons and promised to the museum for its permanent collection. The house itself, the other works that comprise its contents, and the land on which the house is located have been promised to the Foundation by the artist.
The Guggenheim had planned to “keep the house open to the public five months a year for at least 10 years, after which time the artworks [would] enter the Guggenheim’s contemporary holdings as a definitive example of Prince’s practice,” according to an essay by curator Nancy Spector.
As (bad) luck would have it, the Guggenheim is poised to open a Richard Prince retrospective, Sept. 28-Jan. 9, in which his “Second House” would undoubtedly have played an important role.
: My request for further clarification an comment, sent last night by me to the Guggenheim, has just been answered this afternoon. Betsy Ennis, director of public affairs, writes:
We can confirm that on June 27, 2007, Richard Prince’s “Second House,” an art installation which was gifted by the artist to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 2005, was struck by lightning during an electrical storm. The damage from the fire caused by the lightning was significant and is currently being assessed by the Foundation in consultation with the artist and the insurance company. The suite of Hood sculptures which are being donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation were not on the premises at the time.

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