Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

It was a beautiful day driving into Bilbao from San Sebastian.  An easy drive, about an hour and ten minutes and not complicated at all to get to our hotel,  The Silken Gran Domine Bilbao.  We crossed over the Nervion River, through the red sculpture on the bridge into Bilbao, turned right at Alameda Mazarredo and there we were, right at the hotel.  This shot was taken from our hotel room on the fifth floor overlooking the Guggenheim Museum. 
I particularly like the water surrounding parts of the museum with the reflections of the building itself and the bridge.
Another view from our hotel room.  The two buildings on the left are new since we were last here.
Puppy, created by Jeff Koons, is a 36 foot high sculpture of a West Highland terrier topiary covered in bedding plants.
The building itself is what attracts the crowds, not so much the special exhibitions.  On exhibition now are works by Jeff Koons and Jean-Michael Basquiat, featured on the second and third floors.  Not much to my liking. 
Designed by architect, Frank Gehry, the museum opened in the fall of 1997.  It was a rare feat, for it was constructed on time and on budget.  Covered in glass, titanium and limestone, the building's curves seem to be almost random.
Being an organized traveler, I had bought our tickets on line prior to leaving the states.  There is Len, with the hat on, walking down the stairs to the entrance, bypassing the long line of people on the right waiting to buy tickets.
Leaving the museum and on out way to a super lunch at Porrue.
Even though I am not a fan of spiders, I do like the giant spider, Maman, that stands over thirty feet tall by French-American artist and sculptor, Louse Bourgeois.  1999.  Maman is in the perfect spot between the museum and the river.
 Looking up on the main floor inside the museum.
What I do like is the permanent exhibition of the series of eight weathered steel sculptures designed by American sculptor, Richard Serra.
A curving path, titled Snake, is made of a three sinuous steel sheets.  It is rather intimidating walking the whole length of the Snake.

 If you are prone to claustrophobia, I certainly do not recommend going into them.
You can really get an idea of the massive scale these sculptures are.  The sculptures vary in height from 12 to 14 feet tall and weigh 44 to 276 tons!
Len and I started our trip by flying to Barcelona through Toronto, Canada and to our surprise there was a Richard Serra sculpture, titled "Tilted Spheres", in terminal one in the Toronto airport!  By the way, it had a great echo!  What a way to start our trip.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Palau de La Musica Catalana in Barcelona is spectacular

 The Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona opened its doors in February of 1908. It was built between 1905 and 1908 by the architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner.  It is one of the best examples of Modernism, the Spanish 19th century Art Noveau movement that emphasized natural form, bright colors and curveular lines.  Today it is one of the most singular concert halls in the world.
 The main vestibule is flooded with light through the stained-glass windows that filters onto the mosaic tiles on the walls and the ceiling.  The ceiling is decorated with a ceramic mosaic in a shape of a star.
 There is tile everywhere.
 The stairways are massive with its marble railings and stairs.
I particularly like the balustrades that are made out of amber-colored transparent glass that also acts as lighting when lit. 

The reception room, the Lluis Millet Hall, used between acts was impressive with its massive wrought iron chandelier and floral motif stained-glass with glass doors that lead out to a balcony.
The balcony has a double colonnade of 14 beautiful glass mosaic columns.
 Every column has a different floral pattern.
 Between the reception hall and the concert hall is the second floor vestibule that leads into the concert hall.
 The concert hall is equal in height and width with a semicircular stage. 
The building is sandwiched between tiny streets and other large buildings so providing natural light was a big concern.  This huge stained-glass skylight forms an inverted dome depicting a choir of forty female faces.   It is the only concert hall in the world that is illuminated by natural light during the day.
The stage is captivating.  The wall behind the stage is a reddish-colored mosaic that showcase eighteen different muses. The lower bodies are made of mosaic that form part of the wall and the upper bodies are sculptures that protrude from the wall.
Each muse is dressed in a different costume and headdress representing the different styles of clothing over the years. 
 And each muse is playing different musical instruments.
 Both sides of the concert hall is illuminated by these large stained-glass windows. 
Every year more than 500 thousand people attend over 300 concerts to this concert hall that holds 2,200 people.
It is an interesting venue to tour.  The first part of the tour was in the Chamber Music Hall where we watched a video that was very well done on the history of the Palau de La Musica: clips of its earlier construction, performances by many musicians and singers of all styles, etc..  
You can go to their website and buy tickets on line in advance which made things so much easier.  I highly recommend a visit to this extraordinary building.