Assembled over the past decade, Bilbao’s collection of art spans from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. Concentrated on post-war painting and sculpture in America and Europe, the collection is autonomous yet complements the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s outstanding holdings of modern and contemporary art. This concept of individual collections existing within a shared network is at the heart of the Guggenheim’s aim to foster cultural exchange and exhibit art to the widest possible audience.
Under the Guggenheim Foundation’s advisement, Bilbao has acquired key works by some of the most significant artists of the second half of the twentieth century, including Anselm Kiefer, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, James Rosenquist, Clyfford Still, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. The acquisition of singular masterworks by leading artists allows the museum to present a series of influential high points of modern and contemporary art. Major acquisitions include Joseph Beuys’s Lightning with Stag in Its Glare (1958–85); Jeff Koons’s Puppy (1992), now iconic in its position in the museum plaza; Mark Rothko’s Untitled (1952–53); and Robert Rauschenberg’s Barge (1962–63), purchased jointly with the museum in New York.
The Guggenheim Bilbao has actively sought artists long associated with the Guggenheim Museum to engage with the unprecedented scale and dynamic galleries of the museum. Works by Francesco Clemente, Jenny Holzer, Richard Long, and Sol LeWitt, among others, were made with Gehry’s spaces in mind, and most recently Richard Serra has grouped eight monumental sculptures in a permanent installation in Bilbao’s largest gallery. Site-specific projects, such as Daniel Buren’s Arcos Rojos, 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.
Additionally, Bilbao’s holdings include work by modern and contemporary Basque and Spanish artists, including Eduardo Chillida, Cristina Iglesias, Juan Muñoz, Jorge Oteiza, Antonio Saura, and Antoni Tàpies.