FRANK GEHRY

 

Frank Gehry, "Fondation Louis Vuitton Final Design Model,' 2005–14, Paris, France, Gehry Partners, LLP, Los Angeles. © 2015 Gehry Partners, LLP.

 

 

September 13, 2015 - January 31, 2016, at Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA], Miracle Mile

by Diane Calder

 

 

When Frank Gehry utilized rough plywood panels, chain link fencing and corrugated steel to construct an augmentation to the Dutch colonial style residence he purchased in the 1970’s, the rugged entrapment of the original structure was not unequivocally appreciated by his Santa Monica neighbors. But as the architect’s deconstructed home gained recognition as a groundbreaking project, Gehry’s wrapped subversion of the residence served to promote his innovative approach to common utilitarian materials. This gave the Canadian born, Los Angeles based architect an edge in procuring the commission for MOCA’s early 1980’s repurposing of a former warehouse near little Tokyo into the initially interim exhibition space that took on the nickname of “The Temporary Contemporary.” The 55,000 square-foot facility captivated artists and visitors with its accessibility. It’s informality and lack of pretension offered enormous latitude for the exhibition of innovative works such as Chris Burden’s institutional critique and literal dig, “Exposing the Foundations of Art.”

 

 

 

Frank Gehry, "Fondation Louis Vuitton Final Design Model,' 2005–14, Paris, France, Gehry Partners, LLP, Los Angeles. © 2015 Gehry Partners, LLP.

 

 

This period of Gehry’s architectural career, in which he created dynamic tensions with utilitarian materials, segmenting individual elements of geometric structures based on functionality, is the subject of the first of six conceptual themes in this major retrospective of Gerhy’s transformation of domestic and international architecture. Curator Stephanie Barron has worked with Gehry to help visitors comprehend the architect’s intuitive design methods via an assembly of 60-plus projects, examined through 200 drawings and 66 models, including speculative and final plans for already built and yet to be completed projects. Those as recent as Facebook’s new campus and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s renovation recognize increasing focus on the relationship of buildings with their environment. It’s a theme that underscores the evolution of Gehry’s thinking since the early 1960’s.

 

By the late 1980’s, Gerhry became frustrated with the two-dimensional construction plans on which he had been relying. They were totally inadequate for the new materials and complex forms he longed to introduce into his practice. He turned to the aeronautics and automobile industry, adapting Dassault Systemes’ CATIA (computer aided software), which supports the digital manipulation of three-dimensional representations.

 

Originally tested on the fish sculpture he designed for the Olympic Village in Barcelona, Gehry was soon making use of CATIA on structures as grand as his swooping, titanium clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. That 1997 edifice put the bleak, industrial Basque city on the map. It generated unending amounts of contemporary architectural tourism.  Before long, critics were dubbing the economic and cultural revitalization of cities through iconic architecture “The Bilbao Effect."

 

Bilbao’s Guggenheim is closely related to Gerhry’s iconic Disney Concert Hall. Originally conceived to be built from white stone in plans that pre-date those of Spain’s Guggenheim, scarcity of sufficient funding lead to revisions that included the modification to a less costly stainless steel skin. The reflective qualities of that surface, amplified by the dynamics of its flowing clusters of curved forms, make Gehry’s Concert Hall photogenic from every side. At all hours of the day and night, it attracts film and video professionals along with tourists eager to take selfies near an edifice that many regard is one of the keys to the redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles.