Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Museum that is a Work of Art

Frank Gehry’s stunning Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is “a soaring exercise of the human imagination”.

“Technology, like Art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination” stated Daniel Bell (b. 1919), U.S. sociologist and educator, in his book “Technology, Nature and Society”. Nothing could better suit Frank Gehry’s stunning building of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, justly elected the most remarkable structure from the twentieth-century.

“Touching Art” hit the road to go to Bilbao and see the Guggenheim Museum, so as to have a live experience of this awesome work of art and to be able to convey to our readers a more direct impression of all it has to offer. This is, therefore, a very particular view of this unique building, a first person report which deliberately does not look for foundation on formal sources, but rather depends on our very own reactions to this fantastic work of art.

In fact, this fabulous structure first strikes us for it looks – in itself – to be more a sculpture than a common building constructed to hold art pieces for exhibition. It IS a sculpture, a work of art on public display, and Bilbao becomes the museum where visitors can appreciate and interact with this “sculpture”. Following some theories on the future of museums, one of the changes these institutions seem to be going through is that they are becoming huge works of art within the towns in which they are built which, in turn, play the role of the setting against which visitors can enjoy them. And this actually turns out to be the case: viewers wander around the Gugenheim Museum in complete awe, slowly enjoying every curve of this very sensual structure, every detail which makes it so unique and extraordinary.

As we walk around it and concentrate on the building as a whole, besides the oneiric shape of a fantastic boat that seems to be floating towards the mouth of the Nervión river, we become aware that there is not one single flat surface on display. Every plane of this amazing work is curved and this becomes even more relevant if we bear in mind that it is covered by about 33,000 extremely thin titanium sheets which, precisely because of the shape of the surfaces over which they have been layered, have to be all different and unique. The same applies for the glass pieces which have been used in some sections of the structure and which have been worked on juxtaposition, adequately evoking fish scales.

The sensuality that we found in this absolutely uncommon structure reminds us of Antoni Gaudí’s voluptuous constructions, also full of curves, which were equally revolutionary at his time. In the same sense, Gaudí introduced what then were absolutely unusual materials and, curiously enough, they were also related to the industrial boom of those days.

Another striking feature of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is the strangely beautiful allure of the organic and somewhat rough effect given by the titanium sheets covering it, which is increased by the changing colours offered according to the weather and the light conditions.

The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum – and our reaction to it – , being such a remarkable work of art and so impressive, cannot be described in one only short text and will, therefore, be the subject of the following feature in our blog. Indeed, Frank Gehry produced a masterpiece that is a living proof that technology and art – especially when worked together – “are a soaring exercise of the human imagination”.

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