The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao has always been on my must visit list and I was not disappointed with the building. It is a fantasy of soft metallic curves with light flooding in from all directions and a different feel depending on what angle you look at it. The setting next to the river and close to two bridges which have extraordinary designs works well too.
The art itself was mixed. There was an interesting Chagall exhibit and also one of modern Chinese artists – mostly video – but annoyingly they do not allow any photos of art exhibits – kind of strange in this day and age?
Obviously everyone visits the Guggenheim in Bilbao (and of course I did too) but it is worth taking time to see the Museo de Bellas Artes too. It has a permanent collection including some big names but also houses a great selection of more modern Spanish art. I liked the variety it offers (it is celebrating 110 years of existence this year so there is a retrospective of some of their favourite pieces.
The picture on the left is a Rembrandt on loan from the Dulwich Gallery – it is stunning and unusual to see a portrait of a young female from him. She seems to be jumping out of the picture. On the right is the moustachioed Philip of Spain by Velasquez. I am particularly fond of the Zuloaga painting of the Countess Matthieu de Noailles – bottom right – she looks like a lady who knew her own mind even back in the mid 19th century and apparently she was a trendsetter, writer and contributed to society in many ways.
My favourite in this group is the young girl with the carnation in her mouth – lovely soft colours – by Guiard. Of course the Murillo of St Peter in Tears is pretty good too!
And now on to modern contributions including a huge room with a video exhibit called the infinite garden – it runs for 75 minutes and I happily sat in it for 20 minutes – wish I had had more time. The Spectator by Cronica is also fun – made of paper mache.
And finally I went on a pinxtos tour (pinxtos is roughly the Basque equivalent of tapas but both parts of Spain insist that what they make is very different to the other!). I just know they taste delicious.
I jumped on a bus and rattled into the pretty countryside outside of Bilbao heading for Vitoria-Gasteiz – which I had never heard of although it is the capital of the Basque Country in Spain.
It was full of surprises. Not too many people. Lovely old alleyways but also splashes of fabulous street art which I always love especially when it is in places that are very old. The pinxtos were pretty good too.