One does not necessarily associate Spain with 21st century architecture, that is until one views Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao in the Basque Country of northern Spain. Oh, there's Gaudi to be sure, but but even he doesn't approach the surrealism of Gehry.
I was at least aware of this building before going to Spain and was hoping to get a little time to do something with it in terms of photography. We got one hour. The choice came down to viewing some of the art held within this crazy building, or photographing it. There was no choice. The Guggenheim collection is noted for its modernism and surrealism. Jean and I visited the Peggy Gugenheim museum in Venice a few years ago. I've seen all that art I need to see; I chose to photograph. One might think there is a disconnect between not liking abstract art and creating it one's self, but I think there is a great difference between abstract art and making montages of feathers, bottle caps,etc. I like abstraction in art, I don't see anything artistic about a urinal glued to a stand. Just my opinion.
The building at Bilbao was opened in 1997 and considered perhaps the most important structure of its time. I will leave that determination to others. That it is unusual there is no argument. It is styled as "contemporary", "expressionist", and "deconstructionist". I'm not sure what all that means but it sure isn't Gothic. Seen from a distance it looks like a huge "other worldly" ship at dock. Up close one must focus on just portions at a time. Its skin resembles shiny scales of a fish or serpent. One might also conjure up images of a space ship. Whatever, it is certainly "contemporary" or beyond.
The business of photographing this subject is daunting. Given but one hour it is impossible to wander far enough to get it all into view at once. I think moving across the river might have been the thing to do, but there just wasn't time. I solved that with a Fisheye lens. The rest devolved into an exercise of lines, shapes, and compositional exercises. And frankly that is where the fun was. I don't think it's possible to exhaust the opportunities this building offers. For most of the hour I played with putting pieces of puzzles together into some kind of interesting composition. I played with diagonals, straight lines, curves, converging lines, shapes, etc. Lighting too played a part as shadows and highlights played unpredictably across the various surfaces presented from different vantage points. It was a pure exercise in composition that just seemed to go on and on until I realized I needed to run if I was to avoid missing our bus.
I haven't decided if I liked the building or not. I do know that no other piece of architecture has ever caught my imagination as this one did. For that reason I decided to put these images into a group by themselves. It's but a sample of the body of work resulting from that hour's shoot.