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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: 7 / 7)

Award-Winning Architect

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  Frank Gehry

It sounds like patience is important too.

Frank Gehry: Patience, yeah. But hanging on, being relentless, just never giving up, I guess that's patience, and having a vision. You've got to know where you want to go with it, and how to explain it.

I used to think that the explanation robbed the essence out of the thing. It was sort of, "I didn't want to take this." There is a feeling of that in the art world or in architecture, but I discovered that the more I could explain myself, the better it was in terms of the relationship with the other people, and that even when I became very intuitive and I didn't know exactly where I was going, I could analyze it for somebody and tell them what I thought I was doing and where I thought I was doing it and how it fit into the history of my work. So I think in my case, I find the clients very important to the equation.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

Can you tell us a little bit about what students should be thinking about, if they're interested in going into architecture. Should they be doing a lot of math courses?

Frank Gehry Interview Photo
Frank Gehry: I think there are a lot of ways to be an architect, and math is certainly an important part of it. But there are a lot of different areas in architecture, and the schools have a tendency to develop a certain kind architect -- trying to make the stars. But all of us need a lot of help from a lot of different kinds of people. First of all, you have to love architecture. If you love it more than anything and you want to be part of it, then you find your particular niche or your way of dealing with it. It may not be the same way I deal with it, it may be working with research in planning and housing. It may develop into materials research. It may be in graphics as it applies to architecture. It may be in the presentation of architecture. There are so many parts I can enumerate, but I think it's a broader field.

I suppose you can't be thinking about being an artist and also thinking maybe you'd like to be a lawyer, or a doctor, or something as well. You've got to be committed.

Frank Gehry: A nine-year-old kid came to my office the other day. He was doing a paper for his class on architecture. And he said, "How do you know when you want to be something, like an architect? How will I know?" And I said, "What's your favorite thing?" This just popped out of me. "What is your favorite thing that you do?" And he said, "I love the sleepovers at my house when I can stay up late with my friends." And I said, "Okay. When you love architecture more than that, then you'll know it's the right thing."

[ Key to Success ] Passion

You make it all sound pretty daunting.

Frank Gehry: It's an awesome thing to come out and look for a way to make a living, and to get into the world. It looks awesome, and it's huge, and some of us do things now that make us look so smart, like we've conquered it. But it just takes baby steps. You start a little bit at a time, and it grows, and you can do it. We're just normal human beings, and we did it, so you can do it.

You came to this country from Canada, and I wondered what kind of image you get when you think of the American Dream.

Frank Gehry Interview Photo
Frank Gehry: It's the same as the Canadian Dream, I think. The American Dream is about freedom, free expression, melting pot, ideas, exchange of ideas. That's my American Dream. It's very naive, I think, but I hang onto it. I'm scared of the guns and stuff that's going on.

But is there still a possibility of that dream?

Frank Gehry: Well, if you look at my career, I'm realizing an American Dream. I'm having a great time. I'm certainly appreciated by enough people to make it worthwhile. I feel good, and I'm getting to act out a certain game or whatever you want to call it, and I think it is contributing something to the world. How important it is, I don't know. I don't have any illusions or visions of grandeur about it.

And you call yourself an architect!

Frank Gehry: Yeah!

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