love being different
Let me start this by saying that I’m not exactly a fan of modern art. When I visited Madrid’s Reina Sofia in 2010, I was sure that I had made a mistake and walked into a section of the museum used for storage and broken art pieces. “No,” I was told. “This IS the exhibit.”
“Oh,” was all I could say. I quickly headed for the Picassos and the Dalis and shook my head, trying to figure out how a pile of used car tires could be considered art.
Given that experience, I couldn’t help but take a deep breath as I entered the Guggenheim in Bilbao. I couldn’t not go. I mean, it’s THE GUGGENHEIM, but I was unsure of what the museum had in store for me.
To my surprise, what I found in the Guggenheim was the beginnings of an appreciation for modern art!
The permanent collection had several pieces I appreciated, namely the 9 LED columns designed by Jenny Holzer specifically for Bilbao’s Guggenheim; Richard Long’s Bilbao Circle, made of slate from England; and Francesc Torres’ six turning points in the 20th century, a room that featured historical events that changed the world.
On the third floor was the Invisible Mirror exhibit, which shows us that art can be a mirror that reflects a completely different image than what you’re looking at. I really liked the pieces in the room called ‘Levity, Gravity, and Other Impossible Things.’ Apart from sounding like the title of a great book, the room contained one of my favourite pieces in the entire museum, which is Damian Ortega’s False Movement. The piece is made of three oil barrels rotating on a wooden platform, but the barrels are in an impossible arrangement.
What really interested me, though, was the David Hockney exhibit on the second floor. Many of his pieces were done on an iPad! Not only were they pretty good, but I thought to myself: “Well, it doesn’t get more modern than that!”
Of course, the biggest work of art was the building itself. Built with thin metal sheets and limestone blocks cut by robots to ensure precision, the building flows. It’s truly amazing. Plus, it’s flanked by art pieces, like a giant spider, a column of large silver balls, and the big flower monument, Puppy.
While I didn’t exactly do a complete 180 on my opinion on modern art—there were still some pieces that I think were walking the fine line between modern art and interesting trash—for the most part, I truly enjoyed the Guggenheim. Each room contained at least one piece worth studying or discussing. That makes it a fantastic museum!