Tag: Guggenheim Bilbao

October 18, 1997: Inauguration of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The Guggenheim at night. Photo by Tony Hisgett, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Guggenheim at night. Photo by Tony Hisgett, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On October 18, 1997, the at the time controversial and now emblematic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was inaugurated.

A lot of our regular readers will no doubt be familiar with the so-called Guggenheim effect in Bilbao. After a controversial start, with many critical voices raised questioning the significant Basque public investment in this flagship project, the museum has had a significant impact in putting Bilbao–and the Basque Country more broadly–on the international map. Much of this is down to architect Frank Gehry’s groundbreaking design of the building itself, which, if you catch the airport bus into Bilbao, comes into view in spectacular fashion as you enter the city proper.

Check out our special post here on the twentieth anniversary celebrations for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

 

 

Multiple acts commemorate 20 years of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

“Bilbao became the name in the architecture world of the turn of the 21 century.” Joseba Zuaika

There have been a series of acts during the last few weeks in Bilbao to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Guggenheim Reflections was a spectacular light show that lit up the Bilbao waterfront nightly between October 11 and 14.

Then on October 18, the twentieth anniversary of the museum’s inauguration, a gala dinner was held in the building itself, whose 525 guests included Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Wendy Fisher, William L. Mack, Karole Vail, and Alberto Vitole, representing the same foundation, the Lehendakari or Basque president, Iñigo Urkullu, as well as Unai Rementeria, the head of the Bizkaian Provincial Council and Juan Mari Aburto, the Mayor of Bilbao.  Guests emjoyed musical accompaniment from the renowned Orfeón Donostiarra-Donostiako Orfeoia and a special dinner menu created by the Basque Country’s leading chefs, including Eneko Atxa, Bittor Arginzoniz, Juan Mari Arzak, Elena Arzak, and Andoni Luis Aduriz.

To commemorate the occasion, too, every resident of Bizkaia has received a free invitation to the museum, and the weekend of October 21-22 it was free to visit.

CBS professor Joseba Zulaika, who has published extensively about the Guggenheim Museum, said this about the anniversary:

The twenty years history of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum presents a complex diversity of contrasting stories. The most spectacular one is obviously architecture. Bilbao became the name in the architecture world of the turn of the 21 century. It presents the paradigm to measure how architecture could transform a city’s urban fabric. With the iconic architecture came the awareness of the singular relevance of image for a struggling city. The news was no longer Bilbao’s post-industrial ruin and terrorism, and this meant more tourism and more foreign investment. The psychology of the city revived, its multi secular can-do spirit restored. These have been great stories for Bilbao and for Basque society in general. But there is no historical process without its shadows. There was initially a widespread opposition to the idea of a New York museum’s satellite in Bilbao. There were solid arguments to oppose it: the secretiveness and opacity of the agreement, the asymmetries in the sharing of the costs and power structures, the very model of a transnational franchise museum. What nobody knew was that Gehry would produce such an spectacular building hailed as a masterpiece worldwide, and that Bilbao would become the model for other cities to be transformed by architecture. The imposition of urban renewal by spectacular architecture left aside other less grandiose but more participative projects such as Gorordo-Oteiza’s Cultural Center. Nor did it resolve the tension between the strategic investment in the internationalization of arts versus the need to promote local arts, or the conflict between maintaining downtown flagship facilities versus the neglect of marginalized neighborhoods. Parodying Magritte’s pipe photograph with the caption “This is not a pipe,” you could say of the Bilbao Guggenheim that “This is not a museum.” But it is also a museum. And on most accounts, even if you dislike some of the trends it brought in art as commodity and spectacle, it is the best thing that happened to Bilbao during these twenty years.

One of the Center’s flagship publications is Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim, edited by Anna Maria Guasch and Joseba Zulaika. This multiple-authored work, representing the reflections of a conference held at the CBS in 2004, seeks to address the initial impact of the Guggenheim on the social, economic, political, and cultural landscape of Bilbao, the Basque Country, and beyond. The book is also available free to download here.  

Check out, too, some of the Center’s related works:

Beyond Guernica and the Guggenheim: Art and Politics from a Comparative Perspective, edited by Zoe Bray. Free to download here

Building Time: The Relatus in Frank Gehry’s Architecture by Iñaki Begiristain.

Building the Basque City: The Political Economy of Nation-Building, by Nagore Calvo Mendizabal.

Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa: Museums, Architecture, and City Renewal, by Joseba Zulaika. Free to download here

That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, by Joseba Zulaika.

Transforming Cities: Opportunities and Challenges of Urban Regeneration in the Basque Country, edited by Arantxa Rodríguez and Joseba Juaristi.

 

 

Bilbao transformation discussed in BBC report

Early morning view of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photo by PA, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Arts section of the online BBC news site recently published an interesting article by William Cook on the changes experienced by Bilbao in the last twenty years. Cited in the article, Sir Norman Foster, the world famous architect behind the iconic metro system in the city, recalls: “Of all my memories as an architect, going to sites and seeing buildings, nothing compares with my experience in Bilbao.” He continues: “There was something almost religious about my experience in Bilbao, and I will never forget it.”

Check out the full article here.

When it comes to Bilbao, it goes without saying that we can’t recommend our very own Joseba Zulaika’s award-winning book, That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, highly enough.  But the CBS has also published other works that explore the impact of the Bilbao transformation and related issues in many different ways. See, for example, Building Time: The Relatus in Frank Gehry’s Architecture by Iñaki Begiristain,  Transforming Cities: Opportunities and Challenges of Urban Regeneration in the Basque Country, edited by Arantxa Rodríguez and Joseba Juaristi, and Building the Basque City: The Political Economy of Nation-Building by Nagore Calvo Mendizabal.

October 18, 1997: Inauguration of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

October 18, 1997 marked the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – today one of the most emblematic sites in the Basque Country.

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The Guggenheim by night. Photo by PA. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Hailed as a masterpiece and one of the most important buildings of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by architect Frank Gehry,  came to redefine the Basque Country as a whole and the city of Bilbao in particular: it was the “miracle” of Bilbao.

The “miracle” referred of course to Frank Gehry’s Bilbao masterpiece. Hailed as an “instant landmark,” it brought a new sense of relevance to architecture in the transformation of urban landscapes. It was the story of the architect as hero and, as the Greeks believed, of architecture as the first art—arché. Bilbao was doing for the Basques what the Sidney Opera House had done for Australia. Gehry, while complaining of being “geniused to death,” became not only the master architect, but the master artist.

These observations come from the introduction to Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim, edited by Anna Maria Guasch and Joseba Zulaika. This book is available free to download here.

The Center also publishes other books on the social, cultural, and urban transformation of Bilbao and the Basque Country, for which the Guggenheim served in many respects as a springboard:

That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, by Joseba Zulaika.

Transforming Cities: Opportunities and Challenges of Urban Regeneration in the Basque Country, edited by Arantxa Rodríguez and Joseba Juaristi.

Building the Basque City: The Political Economy of Nation-Building, by Nagore Calvo Mendizabal.

 

Researchers Oihane Sanchez and Leire Baztarrica at UNR

The Center is welcoming the visit of art researchers Oihane Sanchez and Leire Baztarrica. They will be in residence until December 21.

Oihane Sanchez

Oihane is a second-year graduate student at the School of Fine Arts at the University of the Basque Country, Leioa. Her project consists in relating the Guggenheim Museum with the metropolitan area of Bilbao in general, and with the local artists in particular. She plans to compare these relationships with those taking place in the American Far West–in cities such as Reno.

Leire Bastarrica 2

Leire Baztarrica

Leire is a photographer and designer. She is a fifth-year student specializing in Creativity and Design within the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Basque Country, Leioa. The project she plans to develop is a study of Reno’s neon lights, analyzing their formal aspects, colors, and symbolic content, as well as cataloging them. As part of her research, she also plans to interview and photograph local people. See some of Leire’s work here.

Want to Learn More? Download Basque Textbooks for Free!!!

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There is just about nothing better than giving something away for free, and even better yet when it is knowledge about our great shared culture. The Center for Basque Studies is very proud to disseminate many of our publications for free, and as part of this mission we’ve recently made our entire corpus of Basque Textbooks available for free PDF download by clicking here, or by visiting our website, under books, and clicking on Books in Print/downloads. Enjoy the best of Basque scholarship this weekend including authors such as: Bill Douglass, Mari Jose Olaziregi, Joseba Zulaika, Cameron Watson, and many, many more!

Frank Gehry and that Old Bilbao Moon

Last month the Canadian-born architect who first moved to Los Angeles in 1949 was covered in the news quite extensively.  NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post have all featured Gehry and his life’s work in some fashion or another.  One of the most mentioned works of architecture is, of course, The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.  It was in 1997 that the museum was built in effort to bring an appreciation of culture to the Basque city that had been lying in industrial ruin.  This “ship-wreck” was the viewed as a “promise of a new city” as described by Dr. Joseba Zulaika.  Gehry’s work and its contribution to Bilbao is a main theme of Prof. Zulaika’s class, “The Bilbao Guggenheim,” in which I’m enrolled this semester.  I knew nothing of the back story involved in terms of  why and how the building of the Guggenheim came to be, but by reading That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a CityProf. Zulaika’s book on the transformation of the city and its people, I am finding out about the struggle and importance of building this museum.

Click on the book link provided above for your own copy, or check out the story from NPR’s Susan Stamberg below:

Frank Gehry’s Lifelong Challenge: To Create Buildings that Move

Here are a few of Frank Gehry’s famous works, with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao at top

guggenheim pic Walt Disney concert hall Weatherhead school of management dancing house prague

 

Gehry Zubia in Bilbao

The great architect Frank Gehry, whose Guggenheim Bilbao Museum became the landmark building of the turn of the century and turned Bilbao into the worldwide paradigm of a city recreated by architecture, has designed a second work for the city: a bridge connecting Zorrotzaurre with Deusto that will be named after him: “Gehry Zubia” (literally, Gehry Bridge). Gehry has never shied away from expressing his “love” for the city that made him internationally renowned as the master artist and a household name. The bridge was opened to pedestrians at its official inauguration yesterday, September 14 (with traffic access scheduled for next year, upon completion of work on the Deusto Canal). For more information on the inauguration, click here.

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Aerial shot of the Deusto Canal (2010), with the future islet of Zorrotzaurre in the center, by Fernandopascullo, via Wikimedia Commons

Recently Joseba Zulaika published his ethnography/memoir about Bilbao entitled That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, in which he discusses at length the impact of Gehry’s masterpiece on the city and turns such a glorious “shipwreck” (as Gehry described it) into the emblem of his generation.

Discover the Basque Country: Art, Art, Everywhere (and plenty to spare)

For those of you who may be lucky enough to get to visit the Basque Country sometime, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite places with you.

We’re sure there’s no need to remind you of just how important the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has been in projecting the Basque Country on a global scale, but did you know that there are several other art museums spread across the Basque lands that also offer art lovers of all persuasions magnificent opportunities to indulge their passion?

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Artium, Vitoria-Gasteiz. Photo by Zarateman, via Wikimedia Commons

Just a few blocks from the Guggenheim Bilbao is the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which includes among its permanent exhibitions work by El Greco, Goya, Gaugin, and Francis Bacon, as well as key Basque figures like Zuloaga, Chillida, and Oteiza. Meanwhile, Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Autonomous Community, is home to Artium, the Basque Museum-Center of Contemporary Art, with its focus on more contemporary work, often in a variety of different media. Over in Donostia-San Sebastián, the rejuvenated San Telmo Museum (STM) offers an eclectic permanent collection including the Sert Canvasses depicting key aspects of Basque history and culture. In Baiona there is the Bonnat Helleu Fine Arts Museum, which is home to a drawing cabinet that is arguably the best of its kind outside the that of the Louvre in France, including work by, among others, Delacroix, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Goya. Finally, if you’re heading to Nafarroa, check out the Museum of Navarre in Iruñea-Pamplona, and don’t miss out on the Jorge Oteiza Museum-Foundation in Altzuza, which houses the personal collection of the great Basque sculptor.

These are just a few of the many art museums in the Basque Country. If you’re interested in this topic, check out Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim, edited by Anna Maria Guasch and Joseba Zulaika. This is a work that looks at not just the Guggenheim Bilbao (or indeed the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, on which there is also a chapter) but more broadly at the meaning of art museums in the contemporary world: the architects who design them, the artists whose work they exhibit, their franchise dimensions, and their impact as cultural tools in urban regeneration. The book is available free to download here.

The Guggenheim Bilbao is also discussed at length in Joseba Zulaika’s latest book, That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, which, according to bestselling author Mark Kurlansky, “brilliantly sets a new standard for books about cities.” And check out Oteiza’s Selected Writings, edited by Joseba Zulaika, a collection of the renowned sculptor’s thoughts on art and culture.