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Some works and the the museum

The art of Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945, Donaueschingen, Germany) is a mainstay of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection, which includes more than eleven large-format works produced in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of these works were acquired specifically to be displayed in the Museum. Among them are books, paintings, sculptures, and woodcuts. Many of these richly textured pieces sometimes incorporate organic materials like sunflower seeds or asparagus.

After years spent investigating history, mythology, and the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, Kiefer began to explore themes like human spirituality and the inner workings of the mind

The experimentation journey

Jorge Oteiza (b. 1908, Orio, Spain; d. 2003, San Sebastián, Spain) is one of the preeminent Basque artists in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao collection. The museum owns a group of sculptures Oteiza created between 1957 and 1958 that exemplify his “experimental families,” the series he used to explore the three-dimensional world by hollowing out geometric shapes like cylinders, spheres, and cubes. Some, on view in Gallery 301, belong to the Metaphysical Boxes.

Oteiza retired from sculpting in 1959 in order to research the cultural, political, and educational context of the Basque Country

Half a century in the collection

The works by Eduardo Chillida (b. 1924, San Sebastián, Spain; d. 2002, San Sebastián, Spain) were among the first to be acquired by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Chillida’s relationship with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation began in 1958 with the acquisition of From Within (1953). This work was subsequently featured in the Guggenheim Museum’s inaugural exhibition in 1959. In 1980 the New York museum held a significant show devoted solely to Chillida’s oeuvre. Nearly twenty years later, in 1999, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao organized an ambitious tribute to his full career, with the artist participation in the exhibition’s organization.

The collection of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao currently features 134 works by some of the most prominent artists of the second half of the twentieth century and the twenty-first century


The Didaktika project helps visitors explore the contents of our exhibitions through educational spaces, special activities.

In this space you will find a series of randomly organized texts under the rubric “Discover.” These wall texts invite you to discover some of the works featured in the Collection of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which is made up of 134 works. Books about the Guggenheim Bilbao holdings are available at the reading area.

Who owns this is work?

Located in Gallery 303, Barge (1962– 63) by Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925, Port Arthur, Texas, USA; d. 2008, Captiva Island, Florida, USA) marks an exception to the Guggenheim institutions’ acquisitions policy: it is the only piece jointly owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Rauschenberg created this large-format work in just twenty-four hours and packed it with visual references to American culture from the early 1960s. It seamlessly combines the artist’s mastery of screenprinting and his extraordinarily expressive brushwork

How do you feel when you look at this painting?

Rothko’s picture exemplifies American Abstract Expressionism and the style known as Color Field painting. Rothko sought to use large chromatic planes to express universal human emotions through the contemplation of color, often in the form of large chromatic planes.

Untitled (1952–53) by Mark Rothko (b. 1903, Dvinsk, Russia; d. 1970, New York) is a pivotal piece in the artist’s oeuvre and in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It played a prominent role in a 1954 exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, the first solo show of Rothko’s mature period.

Human body matters

Francesco Clemente (b. 1952, Naples, Italy) created Mother’s Room (1995–1997) as a commission for the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Evoking the spatially transformative frescos of Medieval and Renaissance stanze, the artist used a 1920s stage set as the canvas for this piece. The seventeen panels that compose the entire work combine narrative and abstraction and fuse together to create a visual experience animated by Clemente’s characteristic colors and symbols. Moreover, the human body is chosen as the main tool to interpret the meaning of each of the eight panels installed in Gallery 306.

Clemente also played an essential role in Transavantgarde art, which is characterized by the use of human figures and traditional materials. Coined by art critic Achille Bonito Oliva, the term transavantgarde defines the Italian movement that burst onto the public stage at the 1980 Venice Biennale