Tag Archives: Guggenheim

The Guggenheim Bilbao: more than a Puppy

October 6th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Jeff Koons is not my favourite artist. In fact, I don’t really like his work. But I do like his Puppy. And I loved the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, inside and out.

Koons’ Puppy is suitably festive outside Frank Gehry’s trademark gay curves.

In the plaza next to the museum, towering over pedestrians, Koons’ highland terrier is a patchwork of colours so bright that it lifts the spirits on a cloudy day. And lifts the corners of the mouths of everyone passing by, as well.

A slightly different angle confirms it: this Puppy is BIG.

I saw the Puppy on two different days, one sunny and one grey. He was impressive in both lights.

Walkies, anyone?

Like Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden in Madrid that I wrote about last week, the variety of plants that create the patchwork effect is astounding. Petunias, begonias, impatiens, marigolds and lobelia are only a few of those used.

A patchwork of colours and shapes enlivens The Puppy.

Another close-up shows another view of colours and textures.

Colours contrast effectively.

The Guggenheim is surrounded by outstanding sculpture. On the river side is a figure familiar to those of us who frequent Ottawa’s National Gallery. Louise Bourgeouis’ Maman is equally spidery here. (My travel companion preferred the placement of Bourgeouis’ spider in Ottawa; I agree. But Maman is a dominating presence wherever she appears.)

Maman, by Louise Bourgeois, stalks potential prey outside the Guggenheim.

In the pool that surrounds the Guggenheim, Anish Kapoor’s sculpture is a tower of bubbles rising from the water.

Sculpture by Anish Kapoor

A close-up shows how each sphere reflects the historic buildings across the river from Gehry’s complex, swirling forms.

Across the river from the Guggenheim are
the historic buildings of Bilbao’s university.

Farther along the river, Santiago Calatrava’s pedestrian bridge sweeps walkers from one shore to the other. The curving structure is dynamic and visually powerful, particularly when contrasted with the angular skyscrapers.

What a way to walk!

Bilbao exceeded my expectations. The city is lively and the Guggenheim shines, in sun or in fog.

Fog: an installation by Fujiko Nakaya

As the Michelin Guide says, it is worth a detour.

This is my last post from Spain. Tomorrow, home again, to the bright colours of autumn in Quebec.