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The importance of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao goes far beyond a mere artistic matter. It can be safely said that the appearance of the Museum in Bilbao has marked a turning point in the history of our city.



    The importance of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao goesfar beyond a mere artistic matter. It can be safely said thatthe appearance of the Museum in Bilbao has marked aturning point in the history of our city. That genesis, creationand evolution have become known as the Guggenheimeffect, which will certainly be the subject of study in ourclassrooms in the near future.

    It all started in the early 1990's in a post-industrial Bilbaoimmersed in an economic crisis making a change in directiona matter of maximum urgency. Thus, municipal leadersdebated the exigency of undertaking a project that wouldbecome an economic and cultural engine, revitalising thecity of Bilbao. This need coincided with a new expansionmodel of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, aimingto forge international partnerships, who consequently decidedto open two new museums in Europe, namely the DeutscheGuggenheim Berlin and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

    It was first proposed to renovate the Alhndiga, the old winewarehouse, to be home to the new museum. This idea wassoon dropped in favour of the present location on theriverbank of the Ibaizabal-Nervion River, next to La SalveBridge, a fundamental element of the city's scenery.

  • A contest was organized to choose the architecturalproject for the future Museum with submissions from thefirms of renowned architects: Frank GEHRY (Canada-USA), Arata ISOZAKI (Japan) and Coop Himmelb(l)au(Austria), including Wolf PRIX and Helmut SWICZINSKY.The winner was Mr GEHRY's undoubtedly spectacularproject, which was presented in February 1993.

    Eight months later, on 23rd October 1993, the Ceremonyof the laying of the Museum's first stone was held, signallingthe start of construction. For the following four years,Bilbao's scenery blended with a rising sinuous structurethat peeked the curiosity of all who passed by, a hint ofthe unexpected future success the building would enjoy.

    Finally, the Museum's official public unveiling took placeon 19th October 1997, exceeding all expectations fromthe very first day. Unanimous acclaim from the Basquepeople as well as from tourists and architecture criticsalike made the Museum a true symbol of change. Today,and over a decade later, the Museum's success on manylevels is unquestionable.

  • The Permanent Collection

    The Permanent Collection of the GuggenheimMuseums is composed of the individual collectionsbelonging to the various museums of theGuggenheim Network, each one mutuallycomplementing and enriching the others. Thanksto this network, Guggenheim Museums can accessthese collections to incorporate them in theirpresentations, thereby allowing a profound andcomprehensive exploration of the art of our day.The range of this enormous collection goes fromthe first avant-garde works to contemporary art,allowing Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to put onexhibits of great historical value and depth.

    However, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao hasbeen building its own collection, which has grownboth in quantity and historical depth since itsinauguration and over the art gallery's 13 yearhistory. Comprised of works from the middle of the20th century until today, the collection pays specialattention to the dialogue between Europe andAmerica with such masterpieces as: Untitled, byMark ROTHKO; a series of representative piecesaffording an in-depth look at the work of certainartists, such as Anselm KIEFER; and worksespecially installed in dialogue with specific spaceswithin the Museum, as is the case with The Matterof Time by Richard SERRA, along with significantexamples of both Basque and Spanish art.

    Museum room with Eduardo Chillida's works.

  • Additionally, some of the most important worksthe Guggenheim Museum Bilbao owns areby such artists as: Joseph BEUYS, LouiseBOURGEOIS, Eduardo CHILLIDA, YvesKLEIN, Willem de KOONING, RobertMOTHERWELL, Jorge OTEIZA, RobertRAUSCHENBERG, James ROSENQUIST,Clyfford STILL, Antoni TAPIES, CyTWOMBLY and Andy WARHOL.

    In terms of Basque art, the GuggenheimPermanent Collection features works by someof the most relevant Basque artists fromvarious generations. Starting with CHILLIDAand OTEIZA, there are with such names as:Txomin BADIOLA, Jesus Mari LAZKANO,Pello IRAZU, Prudencio IRAZABAL andCristina IGLESIAS, and even some youngartists such as Ibon ARANBERRI, AbilgailLAZKOZ, Asier MENDIZABAL, MaiderLOPEZ and Itziar OKARIZ.

    Still. C. Untitled. 1964 Saura. A. Crucifixion. 1959-1963

    Klein. Y. Large Blue Anthropometry ( ANT 105)(La grande Anthropomtrie bleue) ( ANT 105). 1960

    Rothko. M. Untitled. 1952-53

  • Warhol. A. One Hundred and Fifty Multicolored Marilyns. 1979

    Rosenquist. J. Flamingo Capsule.1970

  • Oteiza. J. Study for the Emptying Sphere. 1958

    Rauschenberg. R. Barge. 1962-63.

    Motherwell. R. The Voyage: Ten Years After. 1961

  • Past Exhibitions

    Since its inception in 1997, Guggenheim

    Museum Bilbao has hosted some of the most

    visited shows offered in Europe, starting with

    the first exhibit entitled The Guggenheim

    Museums and this century's art, an important

    selection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim

    Foundation collection. Over the years, the

    Guggenheim Museum's exhibition calendar

    has turned out to be among the most attractive

    in Europe including the most recent shows.

    Taking a look at the many outstanding shows,

    two of the most significant have been: China:

    5,000 years (1998), with over 500 pieces dating

    from the Neolithic until modern times, among

    which is found the famous Terracota Warriors

    from the Qin Dynasty; and finally in 2010 with

    the exhibition The Golden Age of Dutch and

    Flemish Painting from the Stdel Museum,

    taking one on a tour through the cornerstone

    of the Frankfurt Museum's collection, showing

    the spectator a panorama of 17th century Dutch

    and Flemish Painting.

    Exhibition Anish Kapoor. 2010.

    Anish KapoorYellow. 1999.Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London

  • Exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe 2009.

    Cai Guo-QiangHead on. 2006.Deutsche Bank Collection. Comisioned by Deutsche Bank AG.

    Between the two exhibitions mentioned above,

    the number of shows hosted by the Museum

    is practically innumerable. Of note are: Robert

    RAUSCHENBERG: A Retrospective (1998);

    The Art of the Motorcycle (1999); Giorgio

    Armani (2001), Rubens and His Age: Treasures

    from the Ermitage Museum (2003); Calder.

    Gravity and Grace (2003); Miguel Angel and

    his age (2004); ArchiSculpture (2005);

    The Aztec Empire (2005); 100% Africa (2006);

    Art in the USA: 300 Years of Innovation (2007);

    Cy Twombly (2008); Surreal Things (2008);

    Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe (2009) or

    Anish Kapoor (2010), among many others.

  • Exhibition Calder. Gravity and Grace. . 2003.

    Ottos Mobile, 1952Beyeler Foundation, BasileaExhibition The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Painting from the Stdel Museum.


    Bartholomus BreenberghThe Martyrdom of St Lawrence, 1647.Stdel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

  • Exhibition 100% frica. 2006.

    Chri Samba. I Like the colour (Jaime la couleur), 2003Courtesy of C.A.A.C. - Pigozzi Colection, Ginebra Chri Samba

    Exhibition Giorgio Armani. 2001.Exhibition The Aztec Empire. 2005.

    Anthropomorfic MaskTeotihuacana, ca. 450Nacional Museum of Anthropology, INAH,Mexico City 10-9630

    Exhibition Art in the U.S.A.: Three Hundred Years of Innovation2007

    Jackson Pollock (19121956)Number 18, 1950Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, Janet C. Hauck, inloving memory of Alicia Guggenheim and Fred Hauck, 1991

    Photographs:Ottos Mobile: Erika Barahona Ede, Guggenheim Bilbao MuseumAnthropomorfic mask: Michel Zab, asistant, Enrique MacasThe Matter of Time: Erika Barahona Ede. FGBMGuggenheim Bilbao Museoa

  • The Matter of Time

    Gallery 104 of the Guggenheim MuseumBilbao is the biggest room in the building,and was designed by Frank O. GEHRY asa place to house monumental art, wherethe pieces of art would feed the spirit of thespace and vice-versa. Expressly conceivedfor the Museum by American sculptorRichard SERRA, Snake (1994-97) has beenon display in this Gallery has since itsinauguration. Snake is a work wherebyspectators walk through a serptine passagecreated between plates of hot-rolled steel.

    Perhaps due to this essential presence, theAmerican minimalist was commissionedwith a number of works created topermanently inhabit the aforementionedArcelorMittal Gallery 104. Without a doubtone of the most intriguing installations onthe world scene, The Matter of Time wasinaugurated in June 2005. Conceptuallyfollowing Snake, the artist's previous work,and comprised of seven colossal sculptures,it is a rumination on the physicality of spaceand the nature of sculpture. This work is amust-see, best appreciated by walkingthrough and around the sculptures, as wellas viewed from above from the Museum'ssecond floor balcony.

    Richard Serra


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