The Art Outside the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Exploring and photographing the exterior of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a rare treat, and in addition to the magnificent structure itself, there are several unusual and wonderful artworks installed outside.

Maman by the artist Louise Bourgeois

Maman by the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois

The most prominent is the spider which stands on the walkway near the atrium terrace posed as though ready to scurry along, it’s many long bent legs can be seen from the La Salve Bridge, across the Nervion estuary and from within the museum.  It’s very accessible to all  and the temptation to lean against a spindly leg is irresistible.

IMG_6768“Maman (1999) is a sculpture by the artist Louise Bourgeois. The sculpture, which resembles a spider, is amongst the world’s largest, measuring over 30 ft high and over 33 ft wide, with a sac containing 26 marble eggs. Its abdomen and thorax are made up of ribbed bronze. The title is the familiar French word for Mother.” Wikipedia

“The sculpture alludes to the strength of her mother, with metaphors of spinning, weaving, nurture and protection.”



Tulips, a bouquet of multicolor balloon flowers blown up to gargantuan proportions (more than 2 meters tall and 5 meters across), belongs to the ambitious Celebration series, initiated by Jeff Koons in 1994.

The Tulips sculpture is located on the atrium terrace and is only accessible from the inside of the museum, although it is clearly visible from across the pond.

Tulips by artist Jeff Koons.  Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating

Tulips by artist Jeff Koons. Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating

“Jeff Koons is an American artist known for his reproductions of banal objects—such as balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces.”

The Puppy by Jeff Koons

The Puppy by Jeff Koons

“The Puppy, (also by Jeff Koons) a 43 ft (13 m) tall topiary sculpture of a West Highland White Terrior puppy, executed in a variety of flowers (including Marigolds, Begonias, Impatiens, Petunias, and Lobelias) on a transparent colour-coated chrome stainless steel substructure.”  Wikipedia

The Puppy was purchased in 1997 and installed on the terrace outside the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.  Before the dedication at the museum, an Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) trio disguised as gardeners attempted to plant explosive-filled flowerpots near the sculpture, but was foiled by Basque police officer Jose María Aguirre, who then was shot dead by ETA members. Currently the square in which the statue is placed bears the name of Aguirre.” Wikipedia

Outdoor Installation sculpture Tall Tree and the Eye by Anish Kapoor at the Guggenheim Bilbao.  It is located in the pond on the north side of the museum.


Tulips and Tall Tree and the Eye


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