In the last generation or so, museums have become Western civilization's secular cathedrals. They are plum jobs for architects, since the clients are supportive and demand creativity. This book takes the building that kicked off the trend toward bold museum design and joins it with one project that has brought the process to a new peak.
Frank Lloyd Wright's soaring atrium and cantilevered spiral viewing ramp for the New York Guggenheim Museum were controversial from the start, but, despite some clear functional shortcomings (partly eased by a later addition), it has aged well. Over four decades, its fundamental idea has proven so compelling and viscerally inspiring that it is a popular and beloved space despite its flaws.
Frank Gehry's titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is large, rich, subtle, complex, and formally fragmented. It sculpts space with dizzying virtuosity and exploits its materials deftly and poetically. Opened in late 1997, it instantly became an icon that helped revitalize an old, declining industrial city. In its first year, it drew nearly 1.4 million visitors, leading to the creation of a nonstop air route between Bilbao and London.
This little volume cleverly joins the two structures through a flip-over format that puts each on the front cover, depending on how the book is held. Ezra Stoller's crisp black-and-white photos show readers the New York museum when it opened in 1959, and Jeff Goldberg's glowing color shots document the Basque city's new landmark. Julie Iovine, a New York Times design reporter, provides short but informative essays for both buildings. --John Pastier
This palm-sized book presents two innovative structures of the modern age - and two of the most important art museums. The book highlights the New York Guggenheim, Frank Lloyd Wright's achievement, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, designed to high acclaim by Frank Gehry. One half of the book contains 30 duotone photographs of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. These images were taken in 1959, shortly after the building's completion, by architectural photographer, Ezra Stoller. Flipping the book over reveals the other half, which consists of 34 colour images of the Bilbao Museum, taken by architectural photographer, Jeff Goldberg. Julie V. Iovine provides a brief introduction discussing the significance of these two masterpieces of modern architecture.