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The Guggenheim Bilbao is one of the world’s best contemporary art museums and a great place to visit at any time of year, but we visited this winter to find out why the next few months, in particular, are a great time to go. From the new Art and Space exhibition to David Hockney’s new show, here’s why now is the time to go.
This year, the Guggenheim Bilbao celebrates its 20th anniversary with a special programme of events and exhibitions, so it’s a great time visit this monumental museum. Its year of celebrations will continue until October 2018, so there’s plenty of time to visit and find out what’s going on.
One of the big 20th anniversary celebratory exhibitions being held is Art and Space, which is on until April 15 2018. The inspiration for the exhibit came from the collaboration between Basque artist Eduardo Chillida and the philosopher Martin Heidegger on a book called Art and Space, from 1969. It provides a different way of looking at space and the way it’s portrayed.
Curated by Manuel Cirauqui, the exhibition displays a fascinating array of both new and older pieces, including a bold red lacquer painting by Prudencio Irazabal, and Object of Reflection by Alyson Shotz, in which sheets of aluminium and stainless steel are draped like cloth. Another of the standout pieces is this deconstructed car suspended from the ceiling by Mexican artist Damián Ortega, called Cosmic Thing.
Until January 14 2018, the Guggenheim will be hosting an exhibition of works by Anni Albers, entitled Touching Vision. One of the most eminent Bauhaus artists, Anni Albers pioneered the reinvention of fibre art, displaying her visuals through weaving and textiles. The exhibition takes visitors on a chronological route of the artist’s early work, much of which took inspiration from the patterns found in pre-Colombian culture.
An exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts in London in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life by David Hockney is the artist’s newest body of work. He returned to portraits later in life and spent his time painting his friends and family, taking three days to paint each from the live subject. The paintings are all same size and each has a bright blue or green block-colour background. The result is a remarkable collection of fascinating, energetic pieces, each one unique, but joined together by something bigger. During one of his painting sessions, the subject didn’t turn up, so Hockney decided to paint a basket of fruit instead, hence the 1 still life. The exhibit will be at the Guggenheim until February 25 2018.
Eduardo Chillida is one of the Basque Country’s greatest artists, and while his large-scale sculptures can be found all over the world, the Guggenheim Bilbao is one of the best places to get to know his art. Because the new Art and Space exhibition was inspired partly by Chillida, the next few months at the Guggenheim are an ideal time to see his work. Pieces to look out for include How Profound Is The Air, a sculpted piece of natural stone, and Advice to Space V, a large-scale piece of twisted, rusted steel.
Yves Klein’s Fire Fountain may be another of the Guggenheim’s installations that’s there year round, but it’s even more spectacular in winter, during the dark and cold evenings. Placed in front of Frank Gehry’s titanium structure, the streams of fire shoot into the air as if from the water below, and create dancing patterns on the shiny surfaces around them. Although Klein never got to complete this artwork during his lifetime, he left sketches and designs, and partially realised his dream at an exhibit in the Czech Republic.
On until March 11 2018, Winter is a performance art piece by Amie Siegel, looking at the relationship of sound and image in film production. In a large, dark room, visitors are invited to sit and watch the film, with all the instruments and objects used to create the sound set up in various spots around the screen. Performance dates include December 15 2017, February 2, 9 and 16 and March 2 and 9 2018.
Richard Serra’s The Matter of Time is part of the Guggenheim permanent collection and has become an integral part of the museum. This enormous work is so mesmerising that even if you’ve visited the Guggenheim before, you’ll return to the exhibit again and again, getting lost among the huge undulating sheets and mazes of iron.