Spain - A Weekend in Bilbao

Author: Sue Rogers
Date: 1st October 2004

Bilbao

I knew Bilbao was a port, I knew it was the centre of the Basque separatist movement and  latterly I knew about it because of the new Guggenheim Museum. I adore Frank Gehry’s scaley monstrosities, so it was an ideal weekend trip.

The museum dominates the city and the river Nervion, that runs through the centre of Bilbao. There isn’t much else to see other than fish restaurants, tiled bars with wooden benches oozing character and a lot of chain shops, like Zara (good bargains). But the gallery and surrounding artworks are absorbing and a stroll along the river is rewarding.

The Guggenheim Building is stunning. I could sit and watch it glinting in the sun for hours. I could swear it almost undulates against the blue sky. Alongside, on the quay, is one of the captivatingly grotesque editions of Louise Bourgeois’s Maman spider sculpture. The sculpture is one of the largest in the world and the original starred at the opening of Tate Modern. Further stiff competition is provided by the grandly named Quantum Field X3, an outdoor installation by Japanese artist Hiro Yamagata. These are huge ‘Holographic Cubes Reflecting a Dazzling Spectrum of Colours’. It’s a shame the exhibitions inside the gallery are ditch water dull.

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