Guggenheim Bilbao

Last week’s trip also took us to Bilbao, Spain, about an hour west of San Sebastian, to check out a structure that I’ve seen a thousand times in pictures, and that people universally seem to love or hate, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. I confess that I’ve mostly stood on the hate side of that argument, mostly because it’s always struck me as more architectural gimmick than refined or advanced artistry. But…  lo and behold! it’s actually a joy-inducing sight when you first see Frank Gehry’s “silver fish” from across the Nervión River flanked by a modern pedestrian suspension bridge on one side, and another traditional cement walkway on the other, with a regular ol’ city just a few feet behind it. It’s all shimmery and reflective and undulating and what not, like a happy marine animal swim-dancing to its favorite tune. It’s hard not to smile at it, and feel good about the silly ideas that humans can conceive and later actually implement, for better or for worse. I still don’t feel it’s a miracle of architecture, but I’ll concede that it makes the world a shinier place. On the inside, however, the museum is strangely small given the volumes you experience outside, and awkwardly laid out, and the craftsmanship of the surfaces and their upkeep are surprisingly poor. The temporary exhibits, though, were so entertaining that we easily whiled away a whole day in there with only a short trip back outside for a delicious Thai/Chinese lunch! Here are a few pics of our excursion and a bit more information about our favorite bits.

I’m pretty sure Stefan’s favorite part of the whole road trip is this picture that he took from across the Nervion River.
Stefan making himself at home on a piano in the middle of a fantastic exhibit by Brazilian artist, Ernesto Neto, who creates enormous works which he believes should be entered  inhabited, felt and even smelled. This and another room featuring a giant netted and climbable worm that rose high above our heads were my son, Zoel’s favorites of the day!
Another Ernesto Neto installation. And yes, I realize that these nylon sacks are uncomfortably close in appearance to a certain aspect of male anatomy, but these suspended ovals were filled with clove, lavender, pepper, sage and many other herbs, along with candy and other pretty things. The strong and varied scents in the room were delightful!
Leeloo had loads of fun in the Neto installations but surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly if you know her) she most liked the Yoko Ono (yep, you read correctly) retrospective, especially this 1965 film of her “Cut Piece” performance art work. She and this little Spanish boy watched it 7 or 8 times. His mom and I were a little bewildered but the idea captured them.
The four of us were riveted by an art installation called The Clock. Christian Marclay’s audacious and inventive work is in effect a film, “a 24-hour montage of thousands of time-related scenes from movies and some TV shows, meticulously edited to be shown in “real time””. I can’t fathom how it was put together but it’s beautiful and mesmerizing. We sat motionless for 45 minutes, literally watching time go by.
Mural under the bridge and across the river from the Guggenheim Bilbao.


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