The Guggenheim Bilbao hits a quarter century


Jorge Fernández Salas: Museo Guggenheim de Bilbao, Spain 🇪🇸, Bilbao, Spain, 2018 (Unsplash)

From the LRB:

Frank Gehry’s attention-seeking building, which rose out of the industrial wastelands of the Basque city in the 1990s, was contentious for its swirling postmodernism but even more so for its presumptions of culture-led regeneration. It seems to have won both arguments. Over time the building had been subdivided, light was deflected if not blocked out, and the work, a major collection of (mostly) mid-20th-century art, called the shots. Now the reverse is true. To celebrate its quarter century, the building has been thrown open. In the words of one curator, it has undergone a ‘deep peel of the interior’.

The ambition of the soaring central atrium, criss-crossed by walkways and wrapped by high level terraces, is plain to see. There are frequent views into and across the labyrinthine building around it; skylights have been stripped clear; intervening partitions and walling removed; and the logic of the collection is now far more in in tune with the exigencies of Gehry’s design. Where daylight falls, there are no vulnerable exhibits, while technology has transformed the delivery of artificial light. Some measures have been radical. Sol LeWitt’s immense wall painting, with the agreement of the artist’s estate, has been reinstated elsewhere, where it isn’t exposed to strong natural light.

Outside, along the riverside, a confident linear park unpeels, the Guggenheim a flagship to a green stretch of playgrounds, cafés, running and cycle tracks and more.

“Bathed in Beige”, Gillian Darley, London Review of Books

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