We are in Bilbao, a medium sized industrial shipping port in Northern Spain. It’s an interesting little city whose core retains some real character. The real attraction though is the Guggenheim Museum. How exactly the Frank Gehry designed building ended up in Bilbao still eludes me but that’s neither here nor there. Its beauty and grace are without question. Since it’s completion this building has become an instant icon and the city’s star cultural attraction.
There are two major exhibits in place now, retrospectives of both George Braque and Yoko Ono.
Braque, the early 20th century abstract painter, is credited, along with friend Pablo Picasso, with being one of the founders of the cubist movement. The paintings are interesting and thought provoking, but the retrospective is a little like an art history lesson. Are there really enough art historians out there to draw huge crowds to Northern Spain?
The Yoko Ono retrospective shows work from 1963 to 2010. The problem I have with Yoko’s work is her. Like so many people my age, that are a little “stuck in the sixties”, she will always be the person that committed two unforgivably heinous crimes. She popularized the primal scream and broke up the Beatles. Now even if you can get past all that and learn to somehow appreciate what she does as an artist, does she really have the capacity to attract people from around the globe to this somewhat remote Basque city? I don’t think so.
What makes this place work is the sheer scale of it all.
Size really does matter at the Guggenheim in Bilbao..