Monday, January 20, 2014

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Rising Mist
Guggenheim's Bilbao Museum is an exquisite display of contemporary Architecture. Formally designed to showcase art, the building morphs seamlessly into a sculptural case of Architecture-as-Art. Frank Gehry's masterpiece transcends style labels like deconstructivism while standing on its own sublime aesthetics. The building owes its design to maritime references characteristic of port cities like Bilbao. Ship-like, it floats on a moat as rising mist envelops it in a fantastic hourly show of engineering prowess.

Ode to Fish
Fundamentally, the building is an ode to fish, Bilbao's historical sustenance from the bay of Biscay. The Guggenheim's titanium panels evoking scales glimmer in the shifting light and shine like shimmering glimpses of gigantic fish in the surrounding water.

Tall Tree & The Eye
It's shape-shifting, mercurial nature makes this museum a good player when teamed up with installation art as, for example, the way Anish Kapoor's sculpture Tall Tree & The Eye is embraced by the building, each complementing the other.

Another case of art partnering well with it's host building is the interplay between Koon's reflective and colorful Tulips with the atrium's glass and the surrounding metal panels.

Half-heart Silhouette
Walking around such a rich and intricate building take the opportunity to discover and enjoy infinite possible abstractions. Half-heart shaped negative spaces formed by limestone nooks appear overhead.

Abstract Odyssey

Space-like metal and glass abstract compositions reminiscent of science fiction movies like 2001 A Space Odyssey can be seen when the lighting is right. There's eye candy everywhere.

Architecturally, the massing is impressive. No wimpy building, this. Each cluster is massive, accentuated by light glass and shiny metal.

Entry Sequence
The entry sequence is clear and though large, respectful of the human scale. Walking toward the entrance is almost processional with a welcoming finale.

Atrium Tower
The interior circulation is organized around a central atrium tower, as anticipated: the large glass expanse previously visible from the exterior now opens up to views outward, making a relatively small and crowded central core appear spacious.

Undulating Atrium
Galleries radiating out and elevators climbing up and down add orderly dynamism and excitement to the undulating atrium that's been likened to a flower.

A Matter of Time
Adjacent the atrium is the largest gallery space currently housing the magnificent installation "The Matter of Time" by Richard Serra, the cast-iron labyrinth channels on-lookers into an interactive stroll: it's a "matter of time" getting through it, depending on personal viewing styles.

Gallery Cube
Other spaces reveal that representational, two-dimensional art is almost inconsequential to the Architecture. The best art pieces offer new ways of contemplating reality and are nurtured by the museum's modernity. Galleries flow in and out of circulation. One singular form of caramel-colored sandstone celebrates the unique piece crowning each exhibit; a masonry gallery cube, visible from the vestibule, high up the atrium, is tantalizing and intriguing to explore.  Discovering the treasure within is the reward, larger than the prize of the artwork itself and it is this process of exploration that Frank Gehry proves himself as the master of anticipation.

Approaching the Guggenheim, Bibao


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