The Guggenheim Bilbao is a modern architectural icon and the most famous titanium structure in the world.
The Guggenheim Bilbao was the first building in Europe to be outfitted in titanium. Frank Gehry’s structure is instantly recognisable: its explosive facades, twisting lines and interconnected sections, most of which boast a reflective titanium skin, less than a millimeter thick.
Called the “best building of the 20th century” by the possibly biased King Juan Carlos of Spain, who inaugurated the building in the fall of 1997, the building is intended to resemble a ship on the banks of the river Nervión. The luminous titanium panels resemble fish scales, echoing the other organic forms that recur commonly in Gehry’s designs. The unique look of the building also owes its life to a sophisticated software programme called Catia, initially conceived for the aerospace industry.
This spectacular building houses a world-class art collection that both draws from and compliments that of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The Museum’s collection currently features works by some significant artists of the second half of the 20th century, such as Chillida, Klein, de Kooning, Motherwell, Tàpies, and Warhol.
Currently, visitors can enjoy a major retrospective of pop artist Takashi Murakami, called the Japanese Andy Warhol. His works include paintings, sculptures, industrial designs, animes, fashion and other media and merchandise in popular culture. The city of Bilbao is also getting behind this exhibit—more than 100 stores in the Old Town will have their windows decorated with Murakami’s famed smiling flowers.