Guggenheim Museum
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dal 28/10/2005 al 23/2/2006
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Guggenheim Bilbao

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Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

The relationship between Architecture and Scupture from the 18th century to the present, from Etienne-Louis Boullee's project for Newton's Cenotaph (1784) to Frank O. Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The exhibition brings together a selection of 180 sculptures, paintings, and models of buildings from world architecture by some 60 artists and 50 architects, including Adolf Loos, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Kiesler, Louis Kahn, Mario Merz, and Cristina Iglesias. Spanish architects include Juan Navarro Baldeweg's project, Luis Moreno Mansilla and Emilio Tunon's architectural model. Works by the sculptor Eduardo Chillida are juxtaposed with models by architects such as Steven Holl and Herzog & de Meuron.

comunicato stampa

"Real architecture is sculpture". Constantin Brancusi

From 29 October through 26 February 2006 the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao will present ArchiSculpture: Dialogues between Architecture and Sculpture from the 18th Century to the Present Day. The exhibition examines many aspects of the close, reciprocal relationship between architecture and sculpture particularly relevant in the twentieth century.

What is archisculpture? Anyone who walks into the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and takes a look around will find themselves surrounded by one of the greatest "archisculptures" on the planet. For anyone visiting Bilbao, from a distance the extraordinary Guggenheim Museum building at first looks like a gigantic Hans Arp or Vladimir Tatlin sculpture that landed in the middle of the city like a UFO. But North American architect Frank O. Gehry's supersculpture is not just a monument or a symbol; it invites people to come inside, and houses a fascinating three-storey museum. And because it is functional, the supersculpture is also architecture. Revolutionary innovations in construction and project design offered by new digital technologies, coupled with the development of new materials, have enabled architects to create buildings with the most unusual and evocative shapes—from the deconstructivist Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to Norman Foster's cucumber-shaped building commissioned by the Swiss Re insurance company in London. Amidst the fierce competition to represent power and prestige, cities and corporations are calling on leading architects to create increasingly original buildings that are like giant corporate logos or emblems in the midst of the chaotic entanglement of the modern megalopolis.

This Guggenheim Museum Bilbao exhibition sponsored by Vizcaína de Edificaciones and Hotel Silken Domine is the result of an idea we found tremendously exciting, particularly as by vocation and profession we have close, permanent links with both architecture and the visual arts. Briefly, the exhibition proposal entailed exploring the ongoing dialectical relationship between architecture and sculpture.

From an historical perspective, the exhibits included here enable us to appraise and assess the current state of the relationship between the two arts. The exhibition is also an open invitation to think about how the dialogue might develop in the future.

An attentive look at the contents of the exhibition also reveals what the best architecture and the best sculpture of our time is currently producing around the world, thus enhancing our sensibility and contributing new ideas for us to continue, right here, the effort of which the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is itself such an outstanding example. It is also an inspiration to improve and increase our artistic heritage, itself part of the continuing bid to contribute to the full personal development of our people.

It is, then, a genuine honor for Vizcaína de Edificaciones and the Hotel Silken Domine to sponsor this exhibition, and we would like to express our most grateful thanks to all the people who worked so hard to set it up. Don't miss it!

Antonio Iráculis Miguel
Chairman of the Board of Directors

The Basque city of Bilbao was one of the first to discover that attractive sculptural architecture could serve as an effective "marketing" tool for attracting attention and luring visitors to the city, a strategy known the world over as "the Bilbao effect". A number of buildings have followed in the footsteps of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao "archisculpture", including Jean Nouvel's Torre Agbar and Herzog & de Meuron's Forum in Barcelona, or Zaha Hadid's Phaeno Science Centre, an undulating, triangular-shaped futurist building projected to open this autumn in Wolfsburg, Germany. They are like enlarged sculptures by Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore or even Eduardo Chillida; the enormous creativity architects use today to shape their buildings suggests that architecture in general is a continuation of the history of sculpture in the form of buildings.

The recent boom in sculptural architecture makes it easy to forget that "archisculptures" already existed before; in fact, the current phenomenon follows a long tradition of interplay between architecture and sculpture. The Egyptian pyramids made an impression with their geometric perfection and simple expressiveness; the Gothic style melded architectural sculpture and architecture together into a single organic fusion; and in Baroque, façades expanded and curved like the limbs of a sculpture. The close relationship between architecture and sculpture became especially noteworthy in the eighteenth century, and since then the dialogue between the two has been one of the most interesting phenomena of modernism.

ArchiSculpture first opened to the public in winter 2004-05 at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen near Basel, Switzerland, and will move to the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany in spring 2006 after closing in Bilbao. Unprecedented in both depth and historical scope, the exhibition traces the relationship between sculpture and architecture from the eighteenth century to the present, from Etienne-Louis Boullée's project for Newton's Cenotaph (1784) to Frank O. Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The exhibition brings together a selection of 180 sculptures, paintings, and models of buildings from world architecture by some 60 artists and 50 architects, including Adolf Loos, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Kiesler, Louis Kahn, Mario Merz, and Cristina Iglesias. Spanish architects include Juan Navarro Baldeweg's project "Wang Wei" in Benidorm, and Luis Moreno Mansilla and Emilio Tuñón's architectural model of the León Auditorium.

The most unique and innovative aspect of this exhibition is the direct confrontation of works by renowned sculptors placed beside architectural models of world architecture, small sculptures in themselves, allowing visitors to draw direct comparisons between the two disciplines. Galleries on the Museum's second floor, and galleries 301, 302, 303 and 304 on the third will house ArchiSculpture, an exhibition that invites visitors into three-dimensionality and discloses a playful way of perceiving new relationships. A thoughtful, careful installation of works by the great sculptor Eduardo Chillida juxtaposed with models of buildings by international architects such as Steven Holl and Herzog & de Meuron, shows how important the paradigmatic function of modern sculpture is to today's concept of space and computer-animated design.

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a super-archisculpture in its own right, has given exhibition curator Markus Brüderlin, recently named Director of the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany, and designer Dieter Thiel, a regular at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein—the first Gehry building in Europe—an exceptional stage for installing an exhibition like ArchiSculpture.

The exhibition is organized in ten chapters, taking visitors on a journey from the eighteenth century, with Etienne-Louis Boullée's vision of a spherical cenotaph for Isaac Newton, to Jean Nouvel's 34-meter multivisionary steel Monolith floating in Lake Murten for the 2002 Swiss Exhibition.

Prologue: The Early History (Gallery 208)
In the first part of the itinerary works by the pioneers of modern sculpture—Maillol, Rodin, Matisse —are set against the four main styles in the history of architecture: archaic/Romanesque, Classical, Gothic, and Baroque. Until recently the origins of modern sculpture were fundamentally seen as a transfer of cubist painting by Braque or Picasso to the three-dimensional space. Based on a Giza pyramid, a Greek temple, Antoni Gaudí's neo-Gothic cathedral, and the Baroque dome of the church of Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza by Borromini in Rome, visitors will have the so far rare opportunity to follow how modern sculpture, since its inception around 1900, has absorbed key impulses from the history of architecture: for example, the tectonic composition of Aristide Maillol's figures shows the influence of classicism, while the Gothic style left its imprint on Rodin and Russian Constructivism.

Chapter 1:
Neoclassical: 18th to 20th centuries (Gallery 205)
With Neoclassicism and Etienne-Louis Boullée's 1784 hollow sphere—one of the outstanding projects of the Enlightenment—visitors begin the exhibition in chronological order, directly reaching the suprematist Kazimir Malevich's Architektons (ca. 1920), most widely known as a painter. The composition of white rectangular blocks are some of the remarkable sculptures of the past century. By juxtaposing them against models by Viennese architects Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann built a few years earlier, Architektons take on a completely new historical meaning. Specifically for the Bilbao exhibition, in homage to Boullée and the rigorous formal language of classicism, in this gallery German artist Gerhard Merz has created a monumental frieze made of hundreds of fluorescent tubes that illuminate the exhibition with the "Light of Enlightenment".

Chapter 2:
The Triumph over Scale: "Architecture Is Sculpture" (Brancusi) (Galleries 205–206)
"Why, it is my studio!", exclaimed Constantin Brancusi upon first seeing the Manhattan skyline from a ship in 1926. The agglomeration of cubical skyscrapers reminded him of the geometric pedestals with their luminous bronze figures that the Romanian sculptor kept in his atelier in Paris. In the exhibition a large-format photograph of his workshop recalls this relationship and shows surprising analogies with the playful design of the Atrium and the staircase of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Brancusi, for whom " real architecture is sculpture", is considered a model not only for a number of twentieth century sculptors, but also for several architects, including Gehry himself. The exhibition recreates a synthesis of Brancusi's atelier. However, different sculptures have been replaced by models of new skyscrapers such as Minoru Yamasaki's World Trade Center in New York, itself already considered a utopia. In the 1950s Brancusi proposed erecting a 122-metre high-rise in Chicago based on his sculpture Endless Column. Buildings used to be measured against human scale based on the laws of proportion. Brancusi is one of those who exceeded this proportionality of scale, defining architecture as a scaleless enlargement of sculptures or design objects, a practice common today for good and for bad.

Chapter 3 and 4:
The Conquest of Three-Dimensional Space 1910–1930: Cubism, De Stijl, Bauhaus (Gallery 206)
The Discovery of Sculptural Form 1910-1930: Expressionism in Architecture (Gallery 207):
Around 1900 famous art historian August Schmarsow made this distinction: sculpture is the "shaper of bodies" and architecture the " shaper of space". This clear division became untenable as of 1910. Architecture became increasingly more plastic and corporeal, and sculpture sought to dissolve the closed body and open itself up to space. Thus, spurred on by Cubism, in 1912 Alexander Archipenko in cutting a hole in his Walking Woman attempted to fuse mass, volume, and empty space. Sculpture became more constructive and tectonic, establishing a connection with the geometric designs of the International Style represented by such architects as Vantongerloo and Mies van der Rohe. At the same time, architecture was becoming more sculptural. The expressive architecture of Bruno Taut, Erich Mendelsohn or Rudolf Steiner has defined the proximity between anthropomorphous architecture and figurative sculpture to present day, including the Blob architecture of Greg Lynn and Lars Spuybroek. The opposite poles of hard geometric modernism—early Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe—and soft, organic biomorphic expressiveness create a dialogue between Expressionist and rationalistic architecture. These contrapositions have remained alive to our day as seen in the debate between Box and Blob. The contrast between organic and geometric and between body and space is one of the leitmotifs of this exhibition.

Chapter 5:
Language–Soul–Space: Rudolf Steiner and Ludwig Wittgenstein (Galleries 207 through 209)
This contrast is found, for example, in the confrontation between the architectural works created by two of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, guided by the idea of "philosophy transformed into architecture": anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner with his second Goetheanum built in Switzerland between 1924 and 1928, and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's cubic, rationalistic house built for his sister in Austria between 1926 and 1928. This unique association of spirit and rationality make up the sanctum santorum of the exhibition, complemented by opposing positions in contemporary sculpture by conceptual artists such as Joseph Beuys and Sol LeWitt.

Chapter 6:
Architecture Becomes Sculpture – Sculpture Becomes Architecture 1950–1960 (Gallery 209)
This contraposition also appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, a period which, in contrast to the pre-World War II era, was known as an " Age of Sculpture" (Carola Giedion-Welcker, 1955). Le Corbusier created the Ronchamp chapel at that time, altogether unlike the geometric box design used for his Villa Savoye (1929–31). At the same time Frank Lloyd Wright created his organic spiral for the Guggenheim Museum, bordering New York's Central Park. The curved walls in Gallery 209 provide an ideal setting for the so-called "sculptural style" in the history of architecture. Meanwhile, in the history of sculpture a new revolution was under way. Eduardo Chillida managed to "turn the body of the sculpture into the space of architecture", thus laying the foundations in the sixties for a new chapter in sculptural architecture.

Chapter 7:
Sculpture as Way and Place: From Monument to Installation (Gallery 203)
Equally revolutionary were Alberto Giacometti's experiments with the idea of the pedestal and the idea of the plaza, which in the 1950s initiated what was to become a major artistic movement. Giacometti is considered the father of installation art, an artistic movement that conquers space, penetrates urban space, ascribes itself a new function - "useful sculpture" - and even tries to transform all social body into social sculpture (Joseph Beuys).

Chapter 8:
Minimal Architecture – Landscape Sculpture 1970–2000 (Gallery 202)
The time came when architecture seized every opportunity to use avant-garde experiments in sculpture, exploit its ideas and literally absorb sculpture into architecture. The minimalist architecture of Herzog & de Meuron adopted, and in a sense refined, the method of Minimalism (Donald Judd, Dan Graham), while the elementarism of architects like Peter Zumthor or Peter Eisenman takes its inspiration directly from the radical approach of Walter De Maria's Land Art.

Chapter 9:
The Sculpted City 1960-1970: Urban Utopias and Informal Mega-Sculptures (Gallery 304)
The new urban utopias, which in the 1960s departed from the objectivity of functionalism, also looked to art for inspiration (Constant, Arata Isozaki, Yona Friedman). Beginning in the mid-1950s, more and more city designs consisting of large-scale sculptural forms emerged. In the late fifties Austrian architect Hans Hollein designed monumental architectural sculptures for Vienna aimed at densifying certain parts of the city and imbuing them with a sense of identity. The pieces on display on the Museum's third floor Gallery 304, particularly sculptor Miquel Navarro's urban installation Wall City (Ciudad muralla, 1995–2000), installed beside the glass wall, thus allowing visitors to establish a direct connection between the utopian artworks inside the Museum and the view of Bilbao's real urban landscape outside.

Chapter 10:
Box and Blob and the Discovery of Virtual Space – The Twenty-First Century (Gallery 302)
This last chapter is dedicated to the hottest controversy today: the factional dispute between advocates of Box and Blob. Functionalist architecture traditionally takes its cue from the rectangular box shape. On the other hand, ever since primitive man lived in caves, organic spatial configurations have been a familiar alternative. Computer-aided architecture reaches its highest potential with blobmeister architecture (BLOB: Binary Large OBjects). In this exhibition this debate is documented by a confrontation between Greg Lynn's Embryological Houses and a reinterpretation of Jean Nouvel's Monolith: a cube that raises the idea of the Box to a radical, hieratic monumentality. The most recent blobmeister architecture has taken the relationship between sculpture and architecture "(Hans) Arp and Blob", to an entirely new plateau, which brings us to the exhibition's second thesis: In view of its creativity and use of advanced technologies, might contemporary architecture be seen as a continuation of the history of sculpture by other means? Some sceptical souls, including the acclaimed art theorist Rosalind Krauss, feel that architecture absorbs or even "devours" sculpture. No other place in the world so clearly demonstrates these liaisons dangereuses as Bilbao. With the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Frank O. Gehry created in 1997 a supersculpture that seems to swallow up everything else. Snake, Richard Serra's sculpture created for Bilbao in 1994­–97, whose precedents in the 1970s and eighties were still creating critical dialogues with precarious public spaces, disappeared in the Museum's enormous gallery as if lost in the belly of a whale. But with the seven new monumental sculptures commissioned to be installed permanently in the Arcelor Gallery (104) last June, Richard Serra has written a new chapter in the story of "The Architect and the Sculptor". The title of this installation weighing more than a thousand tonnes, The Matter of Time, suggests that the last word has yet to be spoken and that only time can tell what will eventually prevail. The mission of ArchiSculpture is to demonstrate that rather than cannibalistic, relationships between architecture and sculpture over the centuries have been and continue to be fruitful. The confrontation between works of Hans Arp, Gordon Matta-Clark, Bruce Nauman, etc., and Frank O. Gehry's sculptural interior, coupled with several models of the singular building, intensify this dialogue. Thus, visitors are given a unique opportunity to experience the building as a supersculpture, while at the same time reliving the history of sculpture under a different light.

The exhibition is accompanied by a profusely illustrated catalogue featuring works in the exhibition as well as numerous reference paintings, sculptures, and architectural designs, edited by exhibition curator, Markus Brüderlin, and with contributions by himself as well as by Friedrich Teja Bach, Ernst Beyeler, Werner Hofmann, Walter Kugler, Marie Theres Staufer, Philip Ursprung, and Viola Weigel. The catalogue has been published by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao with the generous sponsorship of Hotel Silken Domine.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Communications Department
Tel: +34 944359008 Fax: +34 944359059

Abandoibarra Et. 2 48001 Bilbao
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Monday: closed.
In July and August the Museum opens Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ticket window closes half an hour before Museum closing time.
Galleries begin closing 15 minutes before museum closing time.

Alex Katz
dal 22/10/2015 al 6/2/2016

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