I always wanted to visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and I finally achieved this goal by visiting February 10, 2019. I read about the architecture of the museum and saw several photographs of it, but I was amazed when I finally saw it for real. I imagined that it stands high above the flat landscape with a long panorama on one side. Not this way.
Architect Frank Gehry designed the building to integrate it with his surroundings – that is, next to the Nervion River, in the shade of Mount Arxandà and to hide behind the Puente la Salve bridge – instead of being proud of the environment. Gehry carefully arranged the facades and entrances to calmly invite one of the city into the building. At the same time, when a person retreats, the museum seems to writhe and dance. Access to the main entrance is via descent along a long staircase (top right), and not by traditional ascent to an important place. Although the central atrium (lower left and right) is 1.5 times the height of Wright Guggenheim in New York, when someone approaches the building, it does not seem to rise high above it. The combination of external titanium panels, yellow / gold limestone with the transparency created by steel and glass curtain walls, creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere, especially during my rainy visit in the middle of winter. Despite the fact that the interior is tall and airy, I didn’t feel at ease with the architecture, and the craftsmanship and attention to detail was much cleaner than in the Gehry Experience Music Project in Seattle, USA.
I did not know how influential this building is in the history of architecture. Its discovery in 1997 created the term The Bilbao Effect . This is from the exhibition “Architectural Effects:“ Transforming the City by Global Visitors, as well as the Overdetermined Role of the Museum as a Symbol of Cultural and Social Change ”led to what became known as the“ Bilbao Effect ”. Thanks to the use of digital technologies for the design, construction and transmission of images, the Frank Gehry building has set a new standard for architectural effects with the very tools that will soon transform life itself. ” Indeed, the Guggenheim in Bilbao changed the city in a positive way – pretty reckless things for old Frank!
Inside, I found Richard Serra's permanent exhibit, A Matter of Time. After reading Dan Brown's Origins, I wanted to take a walk among these gigantic sculptures. Serra is known for his corten steel sculptures, and I loved his work after exploring Wake in Seattle, the US Olympic Sculpture Park. I was not disappointed here. Once again, I was impressed with the skill at bending two-meter metal sheets in such smooth, graceful bends that should be 18 feet high and smoothly join 100 feet long. Serra’s use of the circle and ellipse in combination with alternating angles of inclination gave me the expected feeling of uneasiness as I walked “inside” the undulating spaces of each sculpture – sometimes in the dark, and then in open air lightness. And by observing other visitors, I could have us all experience the artwork in different ways. Cool stuff.
I also liked the temporary retrospective of Alberto Giacometti's works. I liked to rethink his career, and I was especially drawn to his surreal work. Items such as Spoon, Cube and Unpleasant Object to Throw (bottom left to right) were interesting both in form and in the use of materials. I was inspired by some abstract shapes in my head with which I will have to play ZBrush later …
I will end this post with three permanent standing sculptures that adorn the square. Living garden sculpture by Koons "Puppy", a bronze spider of the bourgeois "Maman" and "Tall tree and eye" Kapoor (below l-r).
Have you been to the Guggenheim Bilbao? What do you think of the building? Let me know in the comments below.