Frank Gehry is, likely, the world’s most famous architect. His works include the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. We also know that he is also prolific as a designer of furniture and as an artist. What surprised me this time is that, at ninety-two, following a pandemic year when he had to lay 170 people working at his office, he has not stopped pushing the envelope. This time, as an artist.
Gehry’s dual exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills was remarkable. The ground floor exhibition was titled Spinning Tales and showed several hanged Fish Lamps made for the first time in polyvinyl and copper. This last version of his fishes evolved through large-scale sculptures, such as Standing Glass Fish at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, 1986; the 22-meter high fish for a fish restaurant in Kobe, Japan, 1987; and El Peix (The Fish) at the Barcelona Olympics, 1992.
The upper floor immersive installation, Wishful Thinking, was based on Alice Adventures in Wonderland. Framing the show was a mirror wall and a textured chain-link fence. This artwork echoes preceding architectural works such as the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, 2000; the Marqués de Riscal Hotel, Elciego, Spain; and the Biomuseo in Panama City, 2014.
Gehry was born Frank Owen Golberg in Toronto. His father was born in Brooklyn to Russian Jewish parents, and his mother was a Jewish immigrant from Lodz. In 1947 his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Los Angeles, where he still lives.
One of his latest projects is the World’s Jewish Museum in Tel Aviv, located adjacent to Hayarkon Park.
I documented three of his architectural masterpieces during the last nine years: Disney Hall in Los Angeles in 2012, the Lou Ruvo Center for Mental Health in Las Vegas in 2013, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris in 2018. This is the first time that I approach his artwork unlinked to a building. Although the scale and complexity of architecture and art can be very different, this exhibition proves that one medium can feed into the other.