Monday, 25 November 2013


We stopped off in Bilbao for a night; it made for a shorter drive and gave us an opportunity to visit the Guggenheim museum of modern art there.

In a new country one is sensitised to the new, to different ways of doing.  There was a first for me in the hotel: a sink designed not to have a plug.  So I shaved in running water, which worked well enough but seemed wasteful.   And the traffic light-controlled pedestrian crossings feature not only a red stationary man telling you not to cross, but the green one is cutely animated.  My mind idly drifted to considering that if it were realistic, he should start to run in the final seconds, and with a bit of luck, trip up at the end.  Delight!  7 seconds to go and he speeded up. Didn't fall over though.

The Guggenheim museum really is a stupendous building, it has to be visited for that alone.

The two exhibits that left the strongest impression were the smiling ladies of Alex Katz, and the steel shapes by Richard Serra.  Walking into the steel curves gave me a peculiar sensation of claustrophobia, as the curves close in above or beside, then open out again.  Although the work fits well into its place in the museum, I came away with the impression that it really needs to be outside in the open.

Alex Katz' ladies I could have spent much more time with.  The smiling head-and-shoulders, effected in bold colours against a dark background invite a consideration of what the artist has conveyed of the sitters' personalities, and what he has hidden, and how.

We are asked not to photograph the exhibits, nor touch them, fair enough.  But it then lends to little problems, at least for philistines like me: "Is that a bench we can sit on, or is it art?"  Or "Is that projector endlessly shuffling through its carousel of slides but projecting nothing on the wall broken, or is it art?"

1 comment:

Helen Devries said...

Just catching up...and drawing breath after the shock of Rioja prices....

The pedestrian lights here must have come from Spain...they feature the same running green man - and they bleep faster as it runs up to red man time.

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