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Permanent Collection - Guggenheim Bilbao

The permanent collection comprises the artworks held by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Together, the three collections provide a complete overview of the plastic arts in the twentieth century.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum now possesses one of the world's most important collections of avant-garde art, concentrating especially on the most radical experiments in abstraction carried out in the first three decades of the twentieth century. The original core collection concentrated exclusively on "non-objective art" and particularly on works by Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian. As time passed, however, the works of other artists essential to an understanding of developments in international twentieth century art began to find their way into the collection. Such artists included Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso. Among the later additions were artworks by Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, and Jackson Pollock. Eventually, more contemporary artists, such as Joseph Beuys, Jannis Kounellis, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, are also represented in the collection.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, in Venice, has some remarkable examples of Surrealist art created by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, and Yves Tanguy, together with works by artists more closely associated with Dada, such as Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Kurt Schwitters.

Figurative trends in modern art are also represented through works by a number of artists, including Giorgio de Chirico, Francis Picabia, and Rufino Tamayo.

Together, the Guggenheim collections provide both a solid basis of aesthetic quality and a cultural and historical context that serves as a stylistic and chronological guide for the Bilbao collection. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao collection has already taken on a life of its own, with works of Modern and contemporary art that complement and enhance the other two collections. It now contains works by some of the most significant artists of the second half of the twentieth century, including Eduardo Chillida, Yves Klein, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Clyfford Still, Antoni Tàpies, and Andy Warhol. A work by Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1952 marks the chronological beginning of the collection.

One unusual feature of the Bilbao collection is the group of commissioned artworks by a number of contemporary European and American artists, such as Francesco Clemente, Jenny Holzer, Sol LeWitt, Fujiko Nakaya, and Richard Serra, for several specific areas of Frank Gehry's building. Now becoming increasingly frequent in contemporary art, site-specific projects help to stimulate the dialogue between art and the institution, enriching new architectural spaces and bringing the traditional neutrality of museum display areas to an end.
Recent European art also has a prominent place in the collection, which tends to reflect the extraordinary range of mediums, techniques, and materials so characteristic of current artistic practice. A Christian Boltanski installation and a Gilbert and George photo-montage rub shoulders with works by artists using more traditional media, as seen in paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Enzo Cucchi, and Julian Schnabel. The collection will also be acquiring a considerable number of works by several individual artists-for example, Anselm Kiefer to give an overview of their artistic careers and creative developments. The Museum is thus looking to become a focal point for the in-depth study of a number of specific artists whose practices and achievements may be considered representative of the second half of the twentieth century.

The permanent collection of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao also features works by a number of leading young Basque and Spanish artists, including Txomin Badiola, Miquel Barceló, Cristina Iglesias, Prudencio Irazabal, Juan Muñoz, Juan Luis Moraza, Javier Pérez, Susana Solano, Francesc Torres, and Darío Urzay.
While it is certainly unusual for an art collection of this kind to be shared between several museums, this is by no means its only distinguishing feature. Regular changes in the presentations to the public of the permanent collection also break new ground in museum practice.

The collection is not static in the sense of the contents being permanently displayed in the same galleries of the museum. The fact that it is shared with two other institutions makes it possible for us to present many different visions of twentieth-century art and thus constantly renew the collection itself. To have available such a remarkably rich collection of twentieth-century art, ranging from the earliest avant-garde movements to the present day, is in fact a unique privilege for Bilbao. In this day and age, creating a new collection of masterpieces covering the whole of the century, and including works by the seminal figures of the Modern movement such as Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Vasily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee, is simply unfeasible.

The matter of time

The current work — The Matter of Time — installed permanently at the Museum, is the artist's most complete rumination on the physicality of space and the nature of sculpture. Installed in the largest gallery of the Frank Gehry-designed museum, the seven new commissioned sculptures join Serra's Snake (1994–97) —created for the museum's inauguration— and comprise a site-specific installation of a scale and ambition unrivaled in modern history

A Selection of Site-Specific and Outdoor Installations
Site-specific and outdoor installations by contemporary artists, responding to the spaces of the Frank Gehry building, are integral to the collection of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Permanent installations are displayed from Jenny Holzer (b. 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio, U.S.A.), Jeff Koons (b. 1955, York, Pennsylvania, U.S.A), Yves Klein (b. 1928, Nice; d. 1962, Paris), Fujiko Nakaya (b. 1933, Sapporo, Japan) and Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, Paris).

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