(HE)ART PLACES / BILBAO (BASQUE COUNTRY, SPAIN): THE SPECTACULAR GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM (AND AN UNFORGETTABLE CY TWOMBLY’S EXHIBITION)

In Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain) I visited the incredible Guggenheim Museum, where I saw stunning art installations and masterpieces (unfortunately, the Jeff Koon’s Puppy was packed up for restoration). It’s all the whole building to fascinate in its unmistakable style. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao has become the cultural and tourism driving force of the Basque Country. This spectacular building – designed by Frank O. Gehry, 1997 – is covered in titanium panels and has its own important collection, as well as sharing the largest private modern and contemporary art collection in the world with New York and Venice.

I saw there (January 2009) an unforgettable exhibition: the tribute to american artist Cy Twombly, who died in Rome in 2011. Organized in the occasion of the 80 years of the artist, the Cy Twombly exhibition featured focused groups of related paintings, drawings and sculpture, multipark works, and works in series, highlighting the artist’s use of themes of classical art. The Guggenheim Bilbao magazine dedicated its cover to Cy Twombly’s masterpiece “Wilder Shores of Love” (1985).

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, at that time, had just acquired the series “Nine Discourses on Commodus” (1963), the work around which the exhibition was designed. It consisted in nine distinct canvases and was the first of the artist’s series to be conceived as a unified whole. That beautiful and unforgettable exhibition featured Twombly’s work in series, including the earlier five-canvases “Ferragosto” (1961) which can be viewed as individual paintings. Other important series included in the exhibition were “Hero and Leandro” (1984) and “Quattro Stagioni” (1993-94).

Cy Twombly ‘s artworks offered a closer look at the spirit of a marvelous artist who “not only irradiates a fascinating personal magic, but has also taken us to the most intricate frontiers of contemporary painting”. I had the permission – as a reporter – to take a few pictures, that I have the pleasure to share in the photo-gallery.

Always in Bilbao I visited the Fine Arts Museum which is one of the best in Spain and has a complete and priceless art gallery with three collections: old art (El Greco, Zurbarán, Goya or Van Dyck), contemporary art (Gauguin, Bacon or Tàpies) and Basque art (Regoyos, Zuloaga or Iturrino).

The Basque Museum includes Basque prehistory and archaeology; the Diocesan Museum of Religious Art and the Easter Pasos Museum hold religious works connected with Bizkaia. Other museums in Bilbao are the Maritime Museum and the Bullfighting Museum. The Rekalde exhibition hall holds top class contemporary art exhibitions. There are also about twenty other galleries with permanent  plastic art exhibitions.

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI 

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PICASSO’S NEVER BEFORE EXHIBITED “PORTRAIT OF A LADY” IN LOUVRE ABU DHABI’S PERMANENT COLLECTION AND INCLUDED IN THE “BIRTH OF A MUSEUM” EXHIBITION.

  PALBLO PICASSO - PORTRAIT OF A LADY 1928

Pablo Picasso , “Portrait of a Lady,”

1928. Gouache, ink, and collage on

paper.  © Louvre Abu Dhabi.

*

 Pablo Picasso’s never before exhibited work Portrait of a Lady is one of the artworks in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection and included in the “Birth of a Museum” exhibition. The papier collé, a type of collage using glued paper cut-outs is, according to the hypothesis of John Richardson, a portrait of famous socialite and fashion muse Natalie Paley, granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and wife of the couturier Lucien Lelong. A renowned model in her day, she was well-connected in fashionable Parisian circles. Picasso may have used photographs as a source, as he did for many other portraits, to capture her oval face, fine features, and slim silhouette.

Louvre Abu Dhabi will open its next exhibition on April 22, 2013 on Saadiyat Island showcasing important works of art from the Louvre Abu Dhabi permanent collection, some of which have never been seen or revealed before.

Born of an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France, Louvre Abu Dhabi will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance. The museum and its growing permanent collection is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi. Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures all over the world, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history.

Like the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the exhibition proposes a singular and original rereading of the history of art and is built around several key artistic and aesthetic questions core to the identity of the new museum: universalism, the comparison between art works from great civilisations from the most ancient times to the contemporary and the multidisciplinary nature of artistic creation. It will also explore the status of the work of art, through universal themes in the exhibition such as questions of the Figure and the Sacred.

Abu-Dhabi-Louvre

Commenting on the latest milestone for the Saadiyat Cultural District, HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) said: “The aim of this exhibition is to evoke the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ambiance and aesthetics, and to begin to tell the story of the birth of this museum. The whole exhibition experience is another chance for visitors from the United Arab Emirates and abroad, to see the remarkable art works in the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection as we prepare for the museum’s opening. Even before opening its doors, Louvre Abu Dhabi is setting its precedent as a place of cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.”

Artworks include one of the finest examples of a standing Bactrian Princess from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE; a Middle-Eastern gold bracelet with a lion’s head approximately 3000 years-old; a painting titled The Good Samaritan by Jacob Jordaens, one of the major Flemish painters from the 17th century and a painting by Oman Hemdy Bey from 1878, titled A Young Emir Studying; a selection of the James Ivory miniature collection includes fine examples of the chivalry ideals of the Rajputs schools depicted and an evolving dialogue between East and West culminates at the end of the exhibition in a cycle of nine canvases by contemporary artist Cy Twombly.

As with all exhibitions organised in preparation for the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District, it will be supported by a diverse Cultural Programme of talks, tours and workshops and a book detailing a significant part of the collection acquired to date will also be published and launched in April.

Henri Loyrette, President-Director of the Louvre Museum, said: “This exhibition is a major milestone in the realisation of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in so far as it unveils the admirable and high quality of the art works that will reflect the heart of the future Museum’s permanent collection. Moreover, this exhibition will embody remarkably the essence of the forthcoming birth of this universal museum. The exhibition will travel from Abu Dhabi to Paris to be presented at the Louvre in Paris in October 2013.”

The general curator of the exhibition is Laurence des Cars, Curatorial Director of Agence France-Muséums (AFM), who is supported by a TCA Abu Dhabi and AFM team of diversified skill sets. Museography is done by architect Jean-François Bodin. Construction of the iconic building designed by Jean Nouvel has begun on Saadiyat Island and the Museography design is in progress.

“L’ECO DI BERGAMO” NEWSPAPER DEDICATES 2 FULL PAGES TO ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI’S “LACER/ACTIONS” ART

I know: you aren’t dedicated two pages in a newspaper every day… Especially when they refer to art and culture. However, this happened to me. L’Eco di Bergamo – the most popular local newspaper in Italy – wrote about my “Lacer/actions” artworks dedicating me two full pages. The article is signed by Diego Colombo, who has interviewed me and has brilliantly reported and described the aspects of my art. I’m re-proposing some passages of the long and detailed article, thanking Diego Colombo and L’Eco di Bergamo for the attention they gave me. The entire article can be read on L’Eco di Bergamo, on October 26, 2011.

 

ALBORGHETTI ‘S POP ART IN NEW YORK

by Diego Colombo

 The “torn city.” This is the subject of photographs by the journalist Roberto Alborghetti from Bergamo (Italy), a research work on torn posters, advertising papers, in different countries of the world. He explains: “It’s hard to imagine that behind torn and faded messages there is “something else” to see or discover. In spite of this, these images keep being a mirror of the talking city. These are the post-communicating traces of a product, an event, a show, an idea, new visual elements, often contrasting, discordant but always surprisingly vital”.

Chris Barlow, British art historians, has hosted Alborghetti in an exhibition in London, organized in October. He was invited to be part of the Memorial & Museum in New York, with his work on Nine Eleven… “I’ve always been fascinated by the world of communication – explains Alborghetti – and once I cared a survey “The eye and the media”, in the weekly magazine “La nostra Domenica”, which often dealt with advertising including that of billboards on the streets. And the director, Lino Lazzari, encouraged me to go on with photographs, putting near my language the innovations of pop art. This year he wrote me a beautiful review which I translated into English and placed on the net”. Lazzari wrote: “The matter used to create a work of art and to convey positive messages of humanity isn’t as important as the ability of using “tears” of colored paper to exalt the characteristics of a striking, persuasive, compelling reality”.

“I photograph a waste as the torn poster waiting to be covered by other posters – adds Alborghetti – or remains as a waste, especially in poor neighborhoods where I usually find the best images”. “In Tunis, three years ago, I took photographs in an Arab market – remembers Alborghetti – where I saw beautiful matches on the blue walls of buildings… The most beautiful matches are those in which paper remains stuck for months and undergoes a process of osmosis with the environment. With rain, sun, smog, paper always changes, it pulls itself, it’s stiff. The most unusual aspects can be discovered when rainwater mixes everything, leaving incredible traces, and it’s important to seize the right moment, because it isn’t always easy…”

“During the last fifteen years – continues Alborghetti – I coordinated several projects about the use of means of mass communication and the reading of image, including workshops with students and teachers on advertising messages. There, I discovered that advertising has a “post” value, that is to say even after being a moment of communication. To tell the truth, the artist Mimmo Rotella took inspiration from torn posters of the fifties. And others like him, for example the French artist Jacques Villeglé: the capability of the billboard of enchanting isn’t something new. But I have considered a different aspect: the suggestion of colors that casually remain when the bill-sticker tears. In the meantime, studying contemporary art, I was seduced by abstractionism”.

 In about seven years, Alborghetti collects a lot of photos, thirty thousand pics. Here comes the surprise: “Showing them to friends or during the workshops with teachers, I was told that my pictures of torn posters were beautiful. They pushed me to locate them, date them, categorize them. I had shots taken around the world, from Italy, from New York and Los Angeles, from all the places where my job as director of specialist journals in the field of teaching and education and coordinator of projects about the use of media takes me”.

The moment of getting known comes soon: “I created about forty videoclips with my images of torn posters, organizing them by color – blue, red, black – and giving meaning to my work. I loaded them on the net: YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, ArtSlant… The first exhibition was in July 2010 at OrioCenter: the Director of the big shoppin center had seen my pictures and he had offered me a space, the square opposite the Milan Bergamo Orio Airport, for an exhibition of thirty works on the theme “Air, water, earth and fire”. In three days, thousands of people have asked for explanations and clarifications. On that occasion newspapers dedicated some articles to the event, including L’Eco di Bergamo and the international web magazine Un mondo d’Italiani…”

 “At first I found much derision in Italy. They told me: “You have made a montage”. And then I had to stand, and still today, people’s reactions when I am taking photos on torn posters. “You’re crazy”, “I have to go, give me way…”. In Milan I was also stopped by the police: I was shooting near a police station, considered “a significant military target”. “What are you photographing?”. “I will show you”. They couldn’t believe. Even my friends usually joke: they pretend to be art dealers who invite me to exhibitions”. To tell the truth when we saw the first e mail from Roberto Alborghetti, we thought it to be a trick.

“When I brought my booklet in a gallery in Milan, they watched me as if I was an alien. But abroad I realized that I wasn’t the problem, they were. We have to get out of our narrow-minded, it is isolating us”.

 The web gives Alborghetti a strong visibility: he has been receiving since the beginning thousands of contacts on his website “Lacer/actions” on YouTube. “Lacer/actions. I chose this name because my activity consists of reading the tears on posters, mirror of pople’s sorrow” Alborghetti’s name is also present on The Huffington Post, the prestigious American blog for which the President of the United States Obama, also wrote. The article is signed by Srini Pillay, Harvard psychiatrist and researcher in the field of “brain imaging”, author of bestsellers about the Neuroscience; in Italy they translated his best seller “Life Unlocked”, titled “La Calma in Tasca” (Newton Compton publishing company)

Pillay was especially struck by the work of Alborghetti dedicated to Nine Eleven and he wrote a psychological analysis on it: “Art is a form of healing whose effects we can seen in the brain. When it is as beautiful as Roberto Alborghetti, it invites us to revisit the tragedy of terrorism, the horror of the loss and the beauty of our resilience through this mysterious life”.

The London show has been organized by the art historian and gallery owner Chris Barlow: “He saw my pictures on the net, he appreciated them and invited me to go to London for three days at the international “Parallax AF” with three of my works: that dedicated to Nine Eleven, “As running fast water” (Come acqua che corre veloce), “I don’t like to stand still” (Non mi piace stare fermo). “As running fast water” was born in Bergamo, along XXIV Maggio street in a rainy day and now somebody puts it near Monet”.

 “I have been contacted by many people who had seen my pictures on the net – Alborghetti says with surprise, but also with pride – : poets, musicians and storytellers. Among these was Srini Pillay, who now is working to an international project about “ States of consciousness”: he sent me a grid of questions centred on the creation of my works. When he received my answers he wrote me: “I am a columnist of The Huffington Post, I will dedicate an article about your work on Nine Eleven”. Taking the story of the origin of this picture as a starting point, he began to write: “Roberto Alborghetti was walking along Vico Street in Milan…”. That’s true: I was there when I saw a board election and I was fascinated by the tears left by a bill-sticker. The colors were similar to those of blood and fire coming down to the gray cement. This year is the tenth anniversary of Nine Eleven and I decided to dedicate this picture to the Fallen in the attack”.

 But there’s more. “Two years ago I have produced a clip with colorful images. An American hip-pop musician, Sweet P The Entertainer saw it and wrote to me: “If I give you my music, you will make a clip”. Now he is coming out in America with his first album…” There is a special feeling with the music. “Last year I made a clip with abstract images that made me think of the atmosphere of Christmas; this clip was for an american group that sings a cappella, Tonic Sol-Fa. A few months ago I worked with a Dutch musician, Jap Jap. And an experimental musician from Brighton, Jonteknik, sent me a song and he wrote to me: “Combine it with your pictures, I like them very much”. I worked with the American musical project “Earscapes” by Joshua Sellers, musician, producer and poet from Arkansas, who created a nine minutes video (“Linger”) with my artworks…”

“Who says that this kind of work can be created only by an Italian, mentioning Renaissance, as well as all the culture that we have behind us and inside us, puts me in a crisis. As well as people who puts me near Cy Twombly, Josef Albers, to pop art, who declares that I have shown that in art nothing is created nor destroyed. That’s true: I am not a painter, but a lot of great artists have been inspired by torn posters. I have got proof. I don’t modify the images, I don’t transform them: I immortalize them as I see them. My work is a provocation. Those who see my work for the first time have the illusion that they are paintings. I have to explain that they are not…”

Others apart from artists like Alborghetti’s works. He has been called by a company, the Bulwark Design (Srs Group), from Fiorano Modenese (Modena), in the center of the district of ceramics… And then the meeting with Bruno Boggia, who provides designers with the drawings. Because the success of an article depends on the textile designers. In Como, Boggia works for the most successful international fashion houses. Alborghetti: “He has produced three silk scarves with my pictures, including one dedicated to Nine Eleven (Alborghetti is going to give it to an association of families of the Fallen in the attack) Three prototypes, just to see the effect of the transition from paper to silk”. “But there’s also – he concludes – a religious group which had the idea of taking one of my images as a model for a stained glass window… People see all these references. For me it’s just a game”. But also a provocation to our eyes and our minds.