Bilbao – The Guggenheim

25 07 2005
OK i was going to write a fair bit on this but got caught up on msn.. Anyway just visited the Guggenheim museum, in bilbao on my way through to San Sebastian. The architecture of this place is amazing. I could harp on about the details of the architecture but it´d probably bore everyone. Anyway i found the desighn of the place much more interesting than the actual art work it housed. I appreciate innovative architecture much more than innovative art. In fact this particular architect Frank Gerhy doesn´t draw a distinction.. but i said i wouldn´t get into it… Suffice to say it´s a very clever and clever piece of architecture.
The other thing i found interesting was not so much the art, but the way people approached it. Every patron of the museum is supplied with an audio guide that looks like a giant phone about the size of a police club. Anyway only some of the actual paintings had an audio commentary. I obseverved the way people looked at the art. It was interesting to note that most people would only give a brief passing glance to the work that did not have an audioguide however when they found a piece with an audioguide most people would stop and punch in the code and listen to what the big phone had to say on this piece. The entire museum was charecterised by clusters of people around art with audioguide and empty spaces surrounding pieces without audiouguides. It´s like people don´t interpret the art themselves but rather listen to what someone else has to say. Perhaps this is because people are lazy and can´t be bothered forming their own opinon or because they do not feel they know enough about art, or are smart enough to draw their own interpretations.. Perhaps they are listening, trying to work out how to say something that sounds clever about art in case someone asks them or so they can sound retell their trip to their friends whilst sounding intelligent, thus earning maximum kudos.
Some of the patrons (mostly men) walked around barely giving most of the works a cursory glance searching not for artwork that resonates with them but for the audioguide symbol that will tell them what to think. This reinforced the belief i had the other day that alot of art is out of touch with the common person. And some of the art i saw today, appeared to me more of an exercise in creative writing than in art. For example the audioguide provided an eloquent essay on the structure, form, representaions, connotations, and style of a piece that consisted of 100 identical pictures of marilyn munroe. People stood and looked at that ´pop art´alot longer than more original or challening pieces. It sounds so much more impressive when someone talks of "a challening example of Abstract expresionism" (quote from guide) rather than  ´2 chairs tied together with string´  and people do love to sound impressive…



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