PRINT September 1997

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the new Guggenheims

LAST SUMMER, as workers were putting the finishing touches on the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, local booksellers were offering two accounts of how an American-run institution had come to stand in the heart of Basque country. One, Guggenheim Bilbao: Crónica de una Seducción (Guggenheim Bilbao: chronicle of a seduction), uses copious quotes from Baudrillard’s work and Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” to recount how Guggenheim Foundation director Thomas Krens, a “professional seducer,” tricked Basque politicians into pledging $100 million from public coffers for an imperialist enterprise that many other European cities were smart enough to reject. The other, El Milagro Guggenheim: Una Ilusión de Alto Riesgo (The Guggenheim miracle: an illusion of high risk), contends that Frank Gehry’s fanciful structure, teeming with Modernist masterworks from the museum’s New York counterpart, will transform a

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