“Guggenheim Bilbao”

The Guggenheim Bilbao turns 20

October 2017 will mark 20 years since the delivery of the Guggenheim Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry. Since opening, the museum has welcomed nearly 20 million visitors who have contributed around €4 billion to the Basque region’s GDP, and generated almost 5,000 jobs, recalls The Art Newspaper. To celebrate this birthday, the museum, lauded for its “Bilbao effect”, is launching a programme of exhibitions, festivities, concerts and performances throughout 2017, namely including, from 3 February to 4 June 2017, an exhibition on abstract expressionist art from the museum’s collection – today valued at €729 million, in other words almost 7 times its initial value. Otherwise, “Paris, Fin de Siècle: Signac, Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec and their Contemporaries”, an exhibition on the 19th century French avant-garde will also be held from 12 May to 10 September, while a retrospective featuring American artist Bill Viola will launched at the end of June and run until 5 November. Finally, a solo exhibition on German painter Georg Baselitz will be presenting works from his Heroes series created 50 years ago. A prize for the local artistic community will also be awarded, with the works of prize winners to be displayed at the museum next...

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Louise Bourgeois, Inner Experience

Until 4 September 2016, the Guggenheim Bilbao is hosting the exhibition “Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells”, paying homage to the work that haunted the artist in the last twenty years of her life. Louise Bourgeois didn’t tend to make concessions. For her, “space does not exist. It is a metaphor constructed to structure our existences.” It was in this mind-set of denial that she designed, in the last twenty years of her life, her Cells: her own metaphor for space. The Cells are complex works. According to Julienne Lorz, curator of the exhibition along with Petra Joos, they “are located in the indeterminate space between museography, staging, atmosphere creation and installation; a sculptural entity that, on this scale and on this formal level, has no equivalents in the history of art”. “Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells” is an exhibition that has no equivalent either, so much so does it call for superlatives. For the exhibition, the Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Guggenheim Bilbao gathered 28 of these architectural spaces that are so impressive for their dimensions and their evocativeness. Gathering all the pieces was a tour de force. Julienne Lorz recalls: “This exhibition is unique for the diversity of lenders and the complexity of its installation. It’s certain that we won’t be able to see another such event again for dozens of years.” The works come from diverse collections: the Easton Foundation and the Louise Bourgeois Trust, of course, but also the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (Helsinki), the Daskalopoulos collection, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Centre Pompidou, and numerous private collections. Seeing these works gathered is a rare event, and it is incidentally the first time that Cells I to VI have been reunited since they...

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Guggenheim Bilbao requests removal of public installation

Bilbao, 14 April 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA). The Guggenheim Bilbao has requested that a large public work, produced as part of a Frankfurt-based exhibition by artists Paul McCarthy and Mike Bouchet, be dismantled. Entitled Bilbao Battleship Billboard, the piece depicts an inverted image of the Frank Gehry-designed museum, digitally altered to resemble two heavily-gunned ships.  The work is to be removed from is current location at a busy intersection in Bilbao, following complaints from the museum which, according to The Art Newspaper, wrote to Marlborough Chelsea (Bouchet’s representative gallery), claiming that the piece “includes connotations that discredit the institution”. The work forms part of “Powered A-Hole Spanish Donkey Sport Dick Drink Donkey Dong Dongs Sunscreen Model”, a group exhibition of works by McCarthy and Bouchet, which runs until 20 April. According to the Frankfurt gallery’s website, the show uses military imagery to explore “the US domination of the visual arts industry since World War II”. The Guggenheim has denied any claims of censorship, describing the banner as a commercial piece devoid of an artist’s signature, which misappropriated a copyrighted image of the...

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Achieving the Bilbao Effect: the impact of the museum on a city

Paris, 20 March 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA). The impact a new museum can have upon its city stretches far beyond creating a new space to showcase an art collection. We seem to be relying on our institutions more than ever, channeling a vast amount of responsibility into them to regenerate neighbourhoods, provide international interest, and inspire a generation of people. Yet at the same time, cultural budgets continue to be cut and governments continue to doubt the significance of a strong cultural scene on the local economy. Are museums always the answer when a city is failing? Are we overstating the extent of their influence – and what is it about an institution in particular that can have such a profound effect on a city’s infrastructure? New museums now can almost be considered to be a work of art themselves. Each new design aims to be bigger, more elaborate and more iconic than the last. Clearly, a new institution reconfigures the space around it, reclaiming what was empty or private space into public space, and instilling new purpose within the urban landscape. Museum directors are now increasingly relying on the raw building becoming a spectacle, the architecture just as much as the art drawing people in. Architects like Renzo Piano, Zaha Hadid and Herzog & de Meuron have become household names in the design of institutions, known for creating innovative, eye-catching forms that will both entice the public and complement the works within them. Yet a plan can be pushed too far – it is all too often a delicate balance between creating a grand show of the exterior, flaunting a museum’s collection, and overshadowing the art or overlooking a viewing gallery’s basic requirements. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s new Herta & Paul Amir Building, which opened...

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Forum d’Avignon Bilbao: Art, Life and the City

Bilbao, 14 March 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA). The first Forum d’Avignon Bilbao took place between the 6 and 7 March 2014 at the AlhóndigaBilbao, a space designed by Philippe Starck. This comes after the second Forum d’Avignon Ruhr in Essen, influenced by the model inaugurated in 2008 in France, and forms part of a cycle of conferences and debates dedicated to developing the role of culture in the city. The opening, led by local and international organisers of the Forum d’Avignon, highlighted the importance of culture with regards to the development of cities and the competition they face in terms of attracting industry and population growth.  It emphasised the idea that culture should be perceived as an investment rather than an expense. Bilbao, a pertinent example with regards to this, formed the basis of discussion during the two-day event. A city suffering severe industrial decline in the 1990s, with 25% unemployment, Bilbao was transformed both by the construction of the Guggenheim Museum and the city-wide redevelopment program which ensued. The €133 million invested generated a greater GDP within the first year and achieved complete return on investment as a result of tax revenue less than five years after its completed construction. The introduction to the Forum subsequently adopted a strong stance in favour of the strengthening of culture in Europe, particularly by way of more substantial budgets. To this end, organisers invited participants to become ambassadors of the values proposed by the Forum in their own countries and provinces. Different panels were then asked to focus on individual aspects of the link beween art and the city, allowing each speaker to present their experience from an individual perspective. These presentations were then followed by Q&A sessions. The first roundtable discussion was entitled “Dialogue between what is public and private...

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