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If you like Frank Gehry's story, you might also like:
J. Carter Brown,
Dale Chihuly,
Philip Johnson,
Maya Lin,
James Rosenquist
Vincent Scully and
Wayne Thiebaud

Frank Gehry also appears in the video:
Art and Architecture: Freedom of Expression and Form

Related Links:
The Pritzker Prize
Gehry Partners

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Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
Profile of Frank Gehry Biography of Frank Gehry Interview with Frank Gehry Frank Gehry Photo Gallery

Frank Gehry Interview (page: 6 / 7)

Award-Winning Architect

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  Frank Gehry

What can you predict about the future of architecture?

Frank Gehry: I hang on to democracy, sort of, even though it's not perfectly practiced, that this has changed the game a lot. And you see a lot of architects, a lot of ideas being more accepted. There are more all-star architects today than there were when I was a kid. There are many different kinds of work, signatures in work, and we do co-exist. I like Bob Stern's work a lot. So we can be different, we can co-exist. We're going to have to find ways to make cities that express that. They can't be the historical, idyllic 19th century model anymore, because we're not living like that anymore, and our world isn't like that. We're finding ways to move forward, while learning from the past. You don't ignore it, you don't destroy it, but you build from it.

I think pluralism is the most optimistic. There are now many ideas, many possibilities. How do you bring that together into a new city form?

What role do you see yourself playing in that?

Frank Gehry: You just do your work, and if somebody likes it, they like it, and if they don't, you don't try to sell them on it. I think that most of the world wants to live in the past, and I think it is going to catch up with us at some point, and I don't know when that's going to happen. Maybe it's my fantasy. Maybe I want it to happen because I'm tired of it. I think we should start living in the present in trying to deal with it. It seems like it would be much more positive.

Frank Gehry Interview Photo
I think the blurring of the lines between art and architecture has got to happen. I don't think these categories are working very well. I am finding the crossover much more exhilarating and much more interesting, and the collaboration much more interesting. In architecture, I don't think you can build Rockefeller Center today. It represents a different politic, a different ethic, a different idea.

The grand monument kind of thing?

Frank Gehry: It just represents the power of the Rockefellers, and I see it breaking down and becoming much more pluralistic, which leads me to collaboration. I think that our politics suggest that many ideas could coexist, and the richness of ideas coexisting interests me, and it's led me to collaborating with other architects, with other artists, and I find that exhilarating and very fruitful. Things happen. I just collaborated with Philip Johnson and Claes Oldenburg and his wife and Richard Serra and Larry Bell.

On what project?

Frank Gehry: On a house, which the guy isn't building.

He's not building it after all that?

Frank Gehry: No. No. It's very painful when these things happen, but when you do houses, you are dealing with emotion at some kind of high pitch. So I never expect much, but this one got pretty good. It was like a chess game. I had the biggest piece of it. It was my project. I brought them all in, and Philip had a little guest house, and he made his move on the guest house, and then I would play against him. It was like a chess game, and he is so brilliant, this guy! He could preempt my trajectory. He would get me just before I made the move. And then Claes had done stuff before that had seeped into my head through the binoculars and stuff like that. So some of the shapes, after the fact, I could recognize were coming from way back somewhere. Those shapes turned on Richard Serra to do a new kind of piece, which came out of the house. So there was this play happening. When you see the whole package, you can see the energy. If it was built, it would be really clear. We all can feel it. We can see it, and that's kept us going. That's pretty exciting. That's really taking the best people you can get and upping the ante a lot.

There's a sort of stereotype image of the architect as an autocratic egomaniac that we see in movies and in novels like The Fountainhead. You seem like the antithesis of that.

Frank Gehry: Yeah.

In the real world, what personal characteristics do you think a person needs to be an architect?

Frank Gehry Interview Photo
Frank Gehry: Well, I think there are all kinds of architects. So one of the problems is the schools supposedly create architects like me. That's the whole thrust, and not many people can do it. I think the educational thing has to change a bit, so that you allow different kinds of architects to evolve, because when you get in practice, you need all these different skills. It's not something you can do yourself. I think that having an open mind about collaboration with people is important. If you are the Lone Ranger, it's a little bit harder, I think. I think that the iconoclast that you suggest, The Fountainhead, is hard to exist in the context of our politics now, in our world. There are a few people that try it and get away with it, but the people that do it, I don't see them producing what the guys who used to do it did. So it's a pose. It's not real.

You have to be a collaborator, don't you?

Frank Gehry: I think you do.

I think you have to be a collaborator on lots of levels. You have to be willing to be a leader in the collaboration. You have to be able to work with the clients and inspire them to more than they -- I mean, usually when they come to me, they are ready. They want to do something special. Even the Disney Hall thing, they carved out a real free path for me. Even today with all the troubles, they're not really hitting at the design as the flaw. I'm 66, so you get to a point where you get some powers and some credibility -- it took a long time -- with certain people. It's not with everybody. The U.S. Government won't hire me. They laugh.

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This page last revised on Sep 21, 2010 20:58 EDT
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