Mad Maxxi The brilliance of Bilbao, and you know I mean the museum, not the town, is that under all ...

Mad Maxxi
The brilliance of Bilbao, and you know I mean the museum, not the town, is that under all that sumptuous shrouding is a very sensible and usable museum. Despite what some say about the original Guggenheim and its offspring they are both remarkable places to view art. The Wright building for its continuous storyline, always with a view to the whole space; and the Gehry for its equally imaginative collage of museum typologies united by the skin that spawned the Bilbao Effect. They both, for entirely different reasons, are buildings that actually like art.

Rome?s MAXXI seems so resentful of the fact that it must contain ?other?s? art, that it does its best to make that experience subservient to the real art on display; Dame Hadid.

This is a building nearly consumed by the most sinuous and confounding circulation route ever devised since Norman Bel Geddes designed the Futurama building at the 1939 New York World?s Fair. But Futurama was entirely about the trip. It was a ride, literally, through time, scale, space and narrative that began at the winding ramps outside and ended in a full scale intersection in the New York of the future.

MAXXI, on the other hand, attempts to create a future through style rather than content, a feat that will age as surely as Rome has endured. The insult is made even more confounding by the remarkable exposition in the architectural model exhibition currently (permanently?) on display. There the losing entries in the international competition show us what might have been, making it even clearer that the winner was to be more art than art museum, more brand image than content.

While ZH may deserve a paean for any number of reasons, why must it impersonate an art museum? Perhaps because it is less dangerous than imitating a Fire Station?though some artists may disagree.