Guggenheim Bilbao Guide

Museum Guide

By Google Arts & Culture

Untitled (1952/1953) by Mark RothkoGuggenheim Bilbao

Untitled- Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko was one of the pioneering figures of the Abstract Expressionist movement which originated in the US in the years after the Second World War. This is one of Rothko’s trademark minimalist color-field pieces which usually consist of a giant canvas with a couple of rectangles painted with no more than two or three colours. Rothko’s art was an attempt to completely separate art from representation; instead, he wanted to capture the experience of “basic human emotions” in these sweeping,epic-scale works and elicit overwhelming emotional responses in those who stand before it.

Untitled Mark Rothko 1952-3 (From the collection of Guggenheim Bilbao) 

Large Blue Anthropometry [ANT 105] - Yves Klein
The avant garde French artist not only challenged the idea of representational art, but the very practices by which paintings has been produced for centuries. The smatterings of blue here wasn’t applied with a brush, but with a number of nude female models dipped in paint whom he directed to roll around on the canvas. Some have argued that Klein was essentially reducing the status of these women to nothing more than serviceable implements, but his work can conversely be seen as a playful parody of genre— a “nude” without any actual visual nudity.

Large Blue Anthropometry [ANT 105] (1999) by Yves KleinGuggenheim Bilbao

Large Blue Anthropometry [ANT 105] Yves Klein c.1960 (From the collection of Guggenheim Bilbao)

Barge- Robert Rauschenberg
At almost ten metres long, Rauschenberg’s handmade silkscreen collage occupies an entire wall at Guggenheim Bilbao. Rauschenberg’s career was marked by challenging preconceptions about what actually constitutes art; his aim was to make art accessible and about everyday life rather than the abstract emotions or ideal images, taking elements of pop culture and current affairs and presenting them on a grand scale. If you look closely at this epic collage, you’ll see how he fuses contemporary images of space exploration, sport-stars, and modern architecture with a cutout of Diego Velazquez's canonical 18th century painting, the Rokeby Venus.

Barge (1962/1963) by Robert RauschenbergGuggenheim Bilbao

Barge Robert Rauschenberg 1962-3 (From the collection of Guggenheim Bilbao)

Maman- Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois’s colossal sculpture has a curious title for such an imposing, nightmarish work of art. The motif of the spider recurred time and again through Bourgeois’s era-spanning career, and as the title suggests, it was in fact meant as a celebration of her mother who was in fact a weaver. It’s an intriguingly paradoxical symbol; the spider, and indeed the sculpture, is simultaneously menacing and protective — notice the sac of eggs under her body— towering and vulnerable— held up by spindly legs. Such contradictions, Bourgeois seems to suggest, are all part of playing the maternal role.

Maman (1960) by Louise BourgeoisGuggenheim Bilbao

Maman Louise Bourgeois 1999- cast 2001 (From the collection of Guggenheim Bilbao) 

The Renowned Orders of the Night- Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer creates entire galaxies with thousands of the tiniest flecks of white paint in this surreal and spellbinding painting. Kiefer paints himself perhaps as the last man on earth, lying on his back on a scorched plain, totally alone under an endless universe. The title hints at the significance of the sky as a constant, unchanging presence. It is the only stability in a volatile and fragile world governed by mortality; it will still be exactly the same when the earth is barren and man no longer exists. But it’s also simply a painting which illustrates our enduring fascination with the beauty and mysteriousness of the night sky.

The Renowned Orders of the Night (1997) by Anselm KieferGuggenheim Bilbao

The Renowned Orders of the Night Anselm Kiefer 1997 (From the collection of Guggenheim Bilbao)

One Hundred and Fifty Multicolored Marilyns
One of the forerunners of Pop Art, Andy Warhol’s works examine where epic, high art and kitsch and celebrity intersect. Warhol had been printing images of Marilyn Monroe since 1962, a year after her death, knowingly exploiting her status as the ultimate sex symbol. The one hundred and fifty repetitions of her face, produced by mechanical silkscreening, serve both as a means of immortalising Monroe, and exposing her to the scrutiny ad infinitum, revealing the double-edged sword of life in the public eye. The piece also possesses a nightmarish quality, as the color seems to drain from Monroe’s face in each iteration, leaving just a ghostly silhouette.

One Hundred and Fifty Multicolored Marilyns (1979) by Andy WarholGuggenheim Bilbao

One Hundred and Fifty Multicolored Marilyns Andy Warhol (From the collection of Guggenheim Bilbao)

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