Thursday, October 18, 2012

Flashback Thursdays: David Hockney and the Flower Puppy

    Doesn't that sound like the title of kids' book? It's art, actually. Art with a capital "A".
    While it was bookended by the twin delights of San Sebastián and--a post is in the works--St. Jean de Luz, the main reason for our trip to the Basque country was to visit Bilbao, specifically the Guggenheim Museum. We could have gone any time. We went in June because of the massive David Hockney exhibit on there.
     Designed by Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim's eye-popping architecture is enough of a draw in itself. Saying that the museum has given this town a new lease on life is no exaggeration. Pre-Guggenheim, it was a not-too-glamourous port on the Bay of Biscay but, since 1997, when the museum opened, literally millions have come to gaze at it.
    It's exceptionally gazeworthy too, curvaceous, gleaming, sheathed in titanium, it looks like some colossal metallic flower.

   Around the museum are water features, walkways--and this astounding sculpture called Maman--a mother spider around 10 metres high. Bet that gives little kids nightmares.

Far friendlier, and even taller, American artist .Jeff Koons's "Puppy" stands in the forecourt of the museum.
Completely covered with flowers, it's watered by an internal system.
 Inside the Guggenheim, the sense of lightness and space is phenomenal.
Everything is on a colossal scale, including these works by David Hockney. He used traditional methods for the works in this room, but elsewhere his "paintings" had been done on an iPad.
     Best to let him tell you about them himself.
     We spent the whole of Saturday afternoon there and all of Sunday, often having rooms completely to ourselves. Before we leave Bilbao, a plug for the museum restaurant....
  ...where we had a terrific breakfast of tortilla, bread filled with scrambled egg and chorizo.
 Back there for lunch, I began with fresh sardines on a bed of...can't remember but it was good.
 Pork, but what pork. I think it had been roasted, then sliced then packed with its juices into a pan, then cut into oblongs and seared on all sides to create a deeply flavoured crust. Pumpkin purée was a good match.

Raspberry ice cream on a thick cream with cubes of licorice jelly. Delicious from start to finish even if the chef did go overboard with the edible smears.

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