travel, novelty, and a pinch of snark

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Spiders, Basque, Kindness, and Cruelty

June 2nd, 2010 · 1 comment · Blog posts by Lia, Novelty, Recommended sights, Urban archipelagos

Louise's spider

Louise Bourgeois died on Monday. That’s her giant spider sculpture pictured above, part of her Maman (a.k.a. “mama”) series. I liked how ominous it looked against the sunset in Bilbao.

In honor of a woman who became famous as an artist late in life, this post is all about making sure you get what you want out of your time on earth. For me, that means travel.

When the Bilbao Guggenheim–a crazy-beautiful museum in what was a kind of run-down port city–was first revealed, I put a picture of it as the background on my computer at work. For years, I had it in the back of my mind as a place I’d like to see.

Imagine how happy I was when I looked out my hotel window to this view:

Bilbao hotel

The museum itself was surprisingly small. I guess I expected more art on display, but it felt like visiting about a third of the MOMA.

Still, I take pleasure in stuff like this–a tri-lingual sign that includes Basque, a regional language for this part of Spain:

Basque/Spanish/English Signs in Bilbao

If you ever visit this Guggenheim, here’s my tip that I hadn’t read about in any guidebook: There’s a great little park around back. Next time, I’ll bring a picnic.

Bilbao from behindMuseums hate to let you take pictures on the inside, but–sorry–it was too spectacular. I had to sneak one in.

Inside the Guggenheim Bilbao

You can’t really make it out too well in this photo, but on the left side are running red LED lights, a piece by Jenny Holzer. I love her projected sayings (photos of many of them here and a discussion that includes her Bilbao project here).

It was a nice moment for me, because I had also appreciated Jenny’s work at the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice, pictured below.

When writing an elegy for a great artist like Louise, including another thought-provoking work of art by another artist seems somehow fitting:

Jenny in Venice

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