Monday, October 26, 2009

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Basque Country

My impromptu trip to Bilbao came about as I was leaving San Sebastián for Madrid and had some time to spare. It almost didn’t happen as the weather was bad but we pressed on and was determined to visit at least one attraction, and that was to be the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Opened in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is one of four museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, founded by philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim and artist Hilla von Rebay. The others are in New York, Venice, Berlin and an exciting new fifth one is coming up next in Abu Dhabi.

The main goal of the foundation is geared towards the collection, preservation and research on modern & contemporary art and the hallmark of a Guggenheim museum is that it has great artworks housed in great architecture. So much so, it’s been said that the buildings (often being massive pieces of art themselves), tend to outshine their exhibits!

For more information on the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, click here.

Above: The 12m tall floral sculpture of a West Highland Terrier named “Puppy”, by American artist Jeff Koons. Puppy is a permanent installation, welcoming visitors at the entrance of the museum. The structure consists of a stainless steel frame holding soil and fresh flowers watered by an internal irrigation system. The flowers that make up Puppy are changed twice a year, showcasing the season’s new blossoms.

Above: Yet another piece of work by Jeff Koons, the “Tulips” is also a permanent installation outside the building. It is made from transparent colour coated chrome & stainless steel.

Above: "RUN! Little Miss Muffet!"
The 10m tall bronze, steel & marble sculpture of a giant spider called “Maman” by French artist Louise Bourgeois, located outside the museum.

The building of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao itself is a classic, Frank Gehry avant-garde architecture, characterised by the renowned Canadian architect’s sleek & daring forms. It was built using a combination of titanium cladding with limestone and glass. This museum represented a bold new vision for the city of Bilbao, catapulting it to prominence.

Above: The rear exterior of the museum.

Above: Part of the glass wall outside the atrium.

Above: The interior of the building is correspondingly appealing with plenty of natural lighting, the continuation of the smooth curvaceous lines, and a sense of height, creating an overall airy feel in the atrium.

Above: Part of a series of weathering steel sculptures called “The Matter of Time”, designed by Richard Serra and housed in the 430-foot (130 m) Arcelor Gallery.

Above: Electronic L.E.D. sign columns by Jenny Holzer.
The digital texts on each column (somewhat like the Matrix’s digital rain effect) continuously flow in opposite direction to one another – not recommended for people with photosensitive epilepsy!

The above are just some examples of all the interesting exhibits that were showcased. As photography inside the museum was not allowed, I could only steal a few quick shots taken without flash. The museum also includes works by Spanish artists of course.
Note that the museum has three levels and a total of nineteen galleries. Unfortunately the entire second level was temporarily closed when I visited. Nonetheless, it was still very enjoyable.

**A piece of pop trivia – about a year after its opening, Mariah Carey with rapper Jermaine Dupri shot most parts of the MTV for their song ‘Sweetheart’ in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao! Check it out here.**

Don’t miss it if you visit Bilbao!

1 comment:

  1. As far as modern Architecture concern ,one Museum that is quite certainly more spectacular than the artwork inside is Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain. it's exhibits are modern and contemporary. there architectural design is very fascinating. It is worth visiting this museum.


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