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Frank Gehry Biography

Arguably architecture's biggest celebrity since Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry's postmodernist buildings have cemented him as not only an architectural icon but as an influential figure in contemporary art and design.

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Early Life and Work

Frank Gehry was born as Frank Goldberg in Toronto, Canada. His architectural aspirations can be traced back to childhood, which he spent using materials from his grandfather's hardware store to build wooden cities in his grandmother's living room. His mother fostered his love for art by bringing him to museums, inspiring him to study architecture at the University of Southern California.

After graduating in 1954, Gehry served in the United States Army before attending the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1956. He left early, however, after becoming disillusioned with the lack of focus towards socially responsible architecture. He then worked for Victor Gruen Associates in Los Angeles and architect Andre Remondet in Paris, before establishing his own Los Angeles-based practice in 1962.

Inspirations and Artistry

Frank Gehry's distinct style is founded in an ahistorical and outsider approach. He stated, 'I was an outsider from the beginning. ... I was different from the architects, who called me an artist...' and views his home of Los Angeles as 'a city free of the burdens of history.'

Rather than historical references, Gehry is inspired by nature. He said, 'I got angry with it—all the historical stuff, the pastiche. I said to myself, if you have to go backward, why not go back 300 million years before man, to fish? ... I realized that [fish] were architectural, conveying motion even when they were not moving. ... the study of fish allowed me to create a kind of personal language.' This fish motif has also manifested in his sculptures including Fish Sculpture (1989–1992) at Vila Olímpica in Barcelona, and in his 'Fish Lamps' series (1984–1986).

'Fish Lamps' and other sculptural artworks, such as Bear with Us (2014) and A Study (1999), have been shown widely by his representative gallery Gagosian, providing insight into Gehry as an artist in his own right, whilst exhibiting his fascination with movement and materiality that is reflected in his better-known architectural works.

Frank Gehry Architecture

Frank Gehry's innovative sketches became reality in locations around the world in museums, concert halls, academic buildings, and houses, including his own. His Santa Monica residence (1978) was a harbinger for future works, featuring a contemporary steel and glass exterior around an original 1920s house. His signature curvilinear style is also reflected in his early furniture design, such as the Easy Edges cardboard chairs (1969–1973).

Gehry's early commissions were primarily in California; his first European commission was for the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, in 1989. After winning the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize that same year, Gehry received more major commissions, including the Weisman Art Museum, Minnesota (1993) and Dancing House, Prague (1996).

Bilbao and Beyond

Gehry's career took another turn after the completion of the Guggenheim Bilbao in 1997. Its curved titanium sheet exterior catches the light, creating an iridescent effect and echoing the shape of a sailboat. Perhaps 'the greatest building of our time,' as architect Philip Johnson declared, it is said to have transformed Bilbao as part of the city's revitalisation efforts.

Since then, Gehry has created many iconic works, including the Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle (2000), Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles (2003), and Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2014). These and other Frank Gehry buildings feature his characteristic use of deconstructivist elements such as dynamic metal and glass exteriors, and exposed materials in the interiors.

Awards and Accolades

Select awards include the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1989); Praemium Imperiale in Architecture, Japan Art Association (1992); U.S. National Medal of Arts (1998); Gold Medal, American Institute of Architects (1999); Lifetime Achievement Award, Americans for the Arts (2000); Companion to the Order of Canada (2003); and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). He has been elected to the National Academy of Design (1994), Royal Academy of Arts (1998), and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (2003).

Exhibitions

Select solo exhibitions include Architect Frank Gehry: "I Have an Idea", 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo (2015); Frank Gehry, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles (2015); Frank Gehry, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014); Frank Gehry: Art + Architecture, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2006); Frank Gehry, Architect, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2001); and The Architecture of Frank Gehry, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (both 1986).

Select group exhibitions include "Charlotte Perriand and I": Converging Events by Frank Gehry and Charlotte Perriand, Biennale Architettura collateral event, Venice (2021); "From the Spoon to the City": Objects by Architects from LACMA's Collection, LACMA, Los Angeles (2010); and West! Frank Gehry and the Artists of Venice Beach, 1962–1978, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis (2005).

Frank Gehry's website can be found here.

Rachel Kubrick | Ocual | 2021

Frank Gehry
featured artworks

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Table by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry Table, 2022 Multi-colour screenprint/collage with silver leaf, mounted to museum board
40.6 x 61 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
Hatter by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry Hatter, 2022 Multi-colour screenprint/collage with gold leaf, mounted to museum board
45.7 x 40.6 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
Duchess by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry Duchess, 2022 Multi-colour screenprint/collage with portrait by Alejandro Gehry, mounted to museum board
45.7 x 35.6 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
Duke by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry Duke, 2022 Multi-colour screenprint/collage mounted to museum board
45.7 x 35.6 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
Queen by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry Queen, 2022 Multi-colour screenprint/collage with gold and silver leaf and portrait by Alejandro Gehry, mounted to museum board
40.6 x 33 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
King by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry King, 2022 Multi-colour screenprint/collage with gold leaf and portrait by Alejandro Gehry, mounted to museum board
40.6 x 33 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
Rabbit by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry Rabbit, 2022 Multi-colour screenprint/collage with silver leaf and portrait by Alejandro Gehry, mounted to museum board
40.6 x 33 cm
Gagosian Request Price & Availability
Puzzled #5 by Frank Gehry contemporary artwork print
Frank Gehry Puzzled #5, 2011 Lithograph
49.5 x 35.5 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Request Price & Availability
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Frank Gehry
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Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, United States
Gagosian Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco +7

Frank Gehry in
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