This exhibition celebrates 20 years of partnership between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Echoing the museum’s opening exhibition in October 1997, which occupied the entire building, The Art of Our Time: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collections reveals how the collections of the museums in the Guggenheim constellation have grown and flourished over the years and underscores and traces the evolution of the Bilbao collection from its inception to present day maturity, and how it has become an international benchmark over the years.
Following a loose chronology, the exhibition begins at the third floor with an extraordinary selection of works produced at the dawn of the 20th century. This was a time marked by the triumph of early avant-garde movements that, armed with utopian longings and ambitions for political change, challenged the rich figurative legacy of Western art and advocated new approaches that looked beyond mere aesthetic concerns. The nonobjective paintings that Solomon R. Guggenheim collected, represented primarily by the work of Vasily Kandinsky, date from this moment. These paintings are displayed alongside works by later artists who embraced the principles of Art Informel and Abstract Expressionism, some acquired by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and others by the Solomon. R. Guggenheim Museum New York. There are also examples of Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual art from the Panza Collection, which joined the Guggenheim holdings in the early 1990s and lent the collections a new depth in postwar art. This section also features two significant and independent monographic groups of sculptures from the Bilbao collection-one dedicated to Jorge Oteiza and the other to Eduardo Chillida.
Most of the second floor is given over to large-format works, such as a mural by Sol LeWitt created specifically for the gallery in which it is shown and works by Anselm Kiefer presented in the gallery for which they were acquired. The first floor, devoted to the most recent creations, reflects the Guggenheim’s engagement with new centers of contemporary artistic production around the world.