Bilbao’s fabulous Guggenheim, Spain
It’s been years I’ve been “meaning to” get to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
A holiday in France’s Basque region provided me with the opportunity to journey across the border into Spain’s Basque country to visit this modern art museum that celebrated its 20th birthday last year.
This striking modern architecture was created by American architect Frank Gehry back in 1997, to house a new collection of the Guggenheim Bilbao. The Guggenheim also has museums in New York, Venice and Berlin.
Guggenheim says his work – including the Guggenheim museum – is often inspired by the sinuous form of fish.
He speaks about the lasting impressions he had as a boy of going to purchase carp with his grandfather and watching it when they stored it in the bathtub before it became dinner. This museum even has titanium “scales” that catch the brilliant light and add to the overall effect.
The first impression as you enter the museum through its 60-meter high atrium is its impressive scale.
The museum itself houses a collection of contemporary and modern art, including works by Willem de Koonig, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol.
The largest gallery is the Galleria el Pez – named, of course, for a fish. This enormous gallery is dominated by Richard Serra’s ‘Snake’.
This installation was a real hit for my kids, and I admit I enjoyed going through it with them.
It was created between 1994 and 1997 for the inauguration of the Bilbao Guggenheim. The artist created serpentine ribbons of hot steel to create these winding, tilted passageways.
The objective of the sculpture is to create “a dizzying sense of space and time.” Dizzying it most certainly is! We had a great (claustrophobic) time wandering through these odd passageways.
Another museum favorite is found outside the museum. Jeff Koons’ ‘Puppy’ was to be a temporary exhibition, but quickly became so beloved that it took up its permanent spot guarding the museum entrance.
This sculpture is made up of flowers irrigated by an internal system. We were lucky enough to arrive early, so we did not have to queue for tickets. However, if you arrive at peak visiting hours, you’ll be admiring this puppy for long periods of time.
The collection itself not as impressive as what you’ll see in the NY or Venice Guggenheim, but it’s still worth a visit when you’re in northern Spain’s Basque country. I’ll be sure to write a future post about visiting the city of Bilbao during your visit.
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