Romulus in Bilbao
On our last day in Asturias, we drove from Oviedo to Bilbao, partly to catch a plane home, and partly to see the Guggenheim Museum there, which we have wanted to do for ages. It was actually a wonderful drive through scenery (sorry Wales) reminiscent of Wales but on a grander scale (this is not at all the conventional image of Spain).
Cliché: the Guggenheim didn't disappoint. The photographs you get of it are amazing.
But they don't quite capture the brilliance of the size, which is both vaster than it looks, and yet somehow avoids ruining everything around it. Another true cliché: when you go in, you feel like you are entering a work of art itself, art displayed displyed within an art object that is always gives you unexpected views of itself and of the outside-- one visual surprise after the next. When you go in, people are always appearing walking along lofty walkways, and half an hour later, you're up there appearing for someone else.
I couldnt help wishing that the new architecture in my own town had a little bit of the bravery thay Frank Gehry gave to Bilbao.
The temporary exhibitions last week were a Francis Bacon show and the last of the School of Paris, 1900-1945. I confess that we gave Bacon a miss. I see why it is important but not sure I want to look at a lot of it. I'm maybe influenced by the husband who remembers from years ago when he was very junior at the ICA, that many rich guys bought Bacons but didn't keep them for very long -- as if somehow you didn't really want to live with them. If I had the money, that might be my view too,
But we did go to the Paris exhibition, which is where I spotted the Alexander Calder version of the Wolf and Twins (1928). I've never known too much about Calder except his mobiles (or 'futiles', as the husband tells me his non-admirers called them). And this was new to me (though a quick Google tells me that it should not have been). But it was a wonderfully down to earth piece, nicely capturing the wiry primitivism of early Rome (I've since learned that the cheap doorstops that served as the wolf's teats captured the popular imagination when it was first exhibited). But all in all a nice antodote to the heroic narrative.
So do go to the Guggenhein, and it's just a short walk away from the Bellas Artes Museum, where you can see, among other thing, a very wonderful/extremely disturbing Cranach Lucretia. That is she above.
This is my last post about Spain.. so a final thank you to all who made it possible.