Flash News: Focus on Guggenheim Bilbao – Richard Serra – Hermann and Margrit Rupf – Francis Bacon


2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, one of the five museums of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, located in the Spanish Basque Country. Famous for its flexible architecture in glass and titanium designed by Frank Gehry, the museum attracts visitors both for the quality of its monumental perennial sculptures (Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer and Richard Serra) and for the quality of its exhibitions. To celebrate this anniversary, Artprice dedicates this brief report to the museum.

An extraordinary experience offered by Richard Serra

For enthusiasts of Richard SERRA‘s work: one of his most beautiful and most complete artworks is installed at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The installation The Matter of Time offers a memorable experience and comprises eight sculptures that interact beautifully with Franck O. Gehry’s flexible architecture. Ellipses and torsional spirals are spread out over the entire Arcelor-Mittal gallery, on the ground floor of the museum, where each work, composed of several tons of steel, plays with gravity and weight. In total, 1,000 tons of sculptures were installed “to the nearest tenth of a millimetre” as part of an exceptional and perennial commission from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which cost €16 million 10 years ago but would be difficult to estimate today… Very few large installations are currently for sale on the market. One of the most imposing – and the most expensive ever sold in the auction room – is L.A. Cone, a slightly concave installation more than 4.40m high by 5m wide. By walking along this steel wall, one can see the subtle rusty nuances of the material and the interaction between body and sculpture takes place through the simplicity and the stripping down of this unique piece. Such sculptures being extremely rare at auction, L.A. Cone more than doubled its estimate of $2 million in May 2013 (at Christie’s New York). In 2016, a single sculpture was available at auction: Thirty-Five Feet of Lead Rolled Up, consisting of a sheet of lead methodically rolled on itself, playing on the hard and soft qualities of the material while creating new possibilities in sculpture. The price of this now “historic” 1968 work: $293,000.

The treasures of Hermann and Margrit Rupf

The exhibition of Hermann and Margrit Rupf’s collection runs until 23 April 2017. Although the Rupfs are relatively unknown, the artists in their collection – particularly impressive in terms of Cubist works – are the most famous of the second half of the 20th century. Pablo PICASSO, Georges BRAQUE, Juan GRIS, Fernand LÉGER, Paul KLEE and Wassily KANDINSKY rub shoulders with contemporary artists. A unique opportunity to see a dozen Cubist works by Braque, alongside a painting by Olivier MOSSET or Enrico CASTELLANI. Hermann Rupf began buying works in 1907-1908 from the famous Kahnweiler Gallery in Paris. He married Margrit Wirtz in 1910 and the couple continued their acquisitions after the First World War to include Braque, Derain, Gris, Laurens, Léger and Klee. Some artists became close friends, like Vassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, who occasionally gave them paintings as a birthday or Christmas gift. Between regular acquisitions from Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, an ardent supporter of Cubism, gifts from artists and later acquisitions to the collection including some major names of Italian art (Castellani, Fontana, Piero Manzoni), the Rupf exhibition brings together 70 works by leading artists from the first half of the 20th century, as well as contemporary art.

The Francis Bacon exhibition comes to an end

Francis Bacon, Picasso, Velasquez: here is, to say the least, an enticing trio, whose exhibition ends on 8 January 2017. Francis Bacon: from Picasso to Velasquez is an extraordinary tour de force, bringing together some 80 paintings including some of the most striking by the British artist born in Ireland. Moreover, the majority of the works exhibited come from private collections, often British, along with a few loans from the Marlborough Gallery, who are in charge of the rights of the artist. An imposing exhibition, where Francis BACON‘s work is compared with great French and Spanish masters who had a major influence on the artist’s career: Picasso and Velasquez as the title of the exhibition tells us, but also Zurbaran, Murillo and El Greco. The exhibition also allows visitors to approach the work of Bacon from another perspective, recalling that the artist began to paint after visiting the exhibition A Hundred drawings by Picasso at the Paul Rosenberg Gallery in Paris, in 1927. He then became a keen admirer of Spanish culture before developing a real obsession for Velasquez and his portrait of Pope Innocent X. Another highlight of this exhibition is the reconstruction of some of the artist’s major triptychs, each worth $100 million! Seated Woman, which sold for $28.165 million at Phillips, New York, on 14 May 2015, regains its true value by being exhibited with the other two works that made up the original triptych.