The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is pleased to present the exhibition Art and Space, which will be on view from December 5, 2017 through April 15, 2018. Titled after the collaboration between the artist Eduardo Chillida and the philosopher Martin Heidegger in 1969, this exhibition will occupy the entire second floor of the Museum as well as its atrium and some outdoor areas. As part of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s 20th anniversary programming, the show will celebrate the inexhaustible capacity of Frank O. Gehry’s building to generate unique dialogues between its breathtaking spaces and fundamental works of the modern and contemporary era. Stemming from key masterworks in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao collection and featuring selections from the Guggenheim constellation, along with other important loans from leading collections, this presentation will offer a new reading of the history of abstraction in the past six decades.
The investigation of the qualities of space has been one of the pillars of 20th century art and continues well into the 21st century. Key moments in this collective inquiry can be found in the recent history of Basque sculpture, and especially in the trajectories of artists Eduardo Chillida and Jorge Oteiza, both of whom received international recognition at a time when other European movements, such as Spatialism and Zero, proposed their own strategies to explore similar questions. Particularly, Chillida’s interest in the qualities of space brought him to engage in multiple collaborations with such referential philosophers and poets as Gaston Bachelard, Martin Heidegger, René Char, and Octavio Paz, among others. The exhibition Art and Space at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao aims to interrogate this cultural dialogue, to expand it historically and geographically, and to track down its persistence in contemporary practices.
Doubtless one of the most inspiring encounters ever between an artist and a philosopher, the collaboration between Chillida and Heidegger on an artist book entitled Die Kunst und der Raum, published by the renowned Erker Presse in Saint Gallen in 1969, will be the conceptual nucleus of the exhibition. While Heidegger inscribed his words on a set of lithographic stones, Chillida produced an accompanying series of “litho-collages” at a moment that critics identify as the apex of his graphic art. Alongside related works and such rarely-seen tokens of this collaboration as Heidegger’s autographed stones, the exhibition will exemplify the space-oriented debates of this period with contemporaneous works by Anthony Caro, Agostino Bonalumi, Sue Fuller, David Lamelas, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Robert Motherwell, Bruce Nauman, Pablo Palazuelo, James Rosenquist, Nobuo Sekine, and Lee Ufan. The presence of late works by Naum Gabo (a key figure in Constructivism who informed abstract sculpture’s take on pure space), Lucio Fontana (founding figure of the Spatialist movement), and Jorge Oteiza (a pioneering artist who claimed the concept of disoccupation in sculpture), will point toward preexisting space-related enquiries in modern art, which may also have foreshadowed Heidegger’s take on this question.
The selected late-modernist examples will pave the way for the presentation of carefully chosen works by artists who, for the past three decades, have updated and reinvigorated this debate by critically addressing the cultural underpinnings of space, along with newly acquired—and known to nearly everybody today—scientific notions such as the discovery of black holes, the conquest of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the development of quantum physics, to name only a few. Works by Nina Canell, Vija Celmins, Ángela de la Cruz, Olafur Eliasson, Marcius Galan, General Idea, Maria Elena González, Isa Genzken, Robert Gober, Peter Halley, Cristina Iglesias, Agnieszka Kurant, Julie Mehretu, Anna Maria Maiolino, Asier Mendizabal, Jean-Luc Moulène, Ernesto Neto, Iván Navarro, Rivane Neuenschwander, Damián Ortega, Alyson Shotz, Susana Solano, Sergio Prego, and Zarina, will among others be featured in this exhibition.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue that will also include texts and archival documentation by the artists Peter Halley, Marcius Galán, Agnieszka Kurant, Asier Mendizabal, Bruce Nauman, Damián Ortega, Alyson Shotz, Lee Ufan and Zarina, as well as critical essays by critic Sara Nadal-Melsió and the exhibition’s curator, Manuel Cirauqui.