(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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(HE)ART PLACES / BILBAO (BASQUE REGION, SPAIN) WHERE THE FUTURE HAS REGENERATED A CITY…

© PHOTOS: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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Bilbao (Basque region, Spain) is one of the most amazing cities of Europe. It had the courage to develop itself in a new identity based on culture and art. I had the pleasure to visit it a few years ago. And I was really astonished by a city where I had the sensation to walk in the future and in the past in the same time.

Its 700 years history can be seen in its buildings and constructions. The old town is an Historic-Artistic Monument and a reference point for reconstructing the city’s history from its beginnings. It is an example of urban regeneration, with more than 400 shops of all kinds. The city centre is an example of the best 20th century architecture, with buildings that have been housing the main institutions and companies in Bilbao for more than a hundred years. It is an outstanding architectural site, always designed by the best local architects. 

Nonetheless, the city continues to expand: alongside the skill of local architects, the top international firms are represented with works by Foster, Gehry, Calatrava, Isozaki, Pelli… I visited the incredible Guggenheim Museum, where I saw nice art installations and masterpieces (see the next second part of the post). Along the “Gran Via”, in the city centre, I admired a beautiful “open air” exhibition of seven Rodin sculptures, with the famous “Thinker”. In Bilbao culture and art become life. Despite the social problems of the region (autonomist movements), people are really friendly – but don’t call them “Spanish”, they are “Basques” – and conscious to be and to live in a city which walks in the future.

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