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Frank O. Gehry (American, born Canada 1929)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American architect, exhibition designer and teacher. He qualified at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1954 and attended the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, in 1956–7. After working in various architectural practices, from 1962 he practised independently in Venice, Los Angeles. His early work focused on the potential of small-scale works to provide a succinct metaphorical statement, as with various exhibition designs for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and his designs for the Joseph Magnin Stores at Costa Mesa and San Jose (both 1968), CA. In his major works he was interested more in the manipulation of architectural form than in technical innovation, and he was concerned with the conceptual and spatial content of buildings rather than the tighter demands of the architectural brief. Seeking an ‘open-ended’ approach to architecture, he was influenced by the work of fine artists, but his works of the late 1970s proved that his approach could provide habitable if haphazard buildings, as in the Wagner House (1978), Los Angeles, and his own Gehry House (1979) in Santa Monica, CA . The latter is composed of apparently casually assembled low-cost corrugated metal panels, steel poles and a canopy of wire mesh fencing. This idiosyncratic, industrialized effect, with the minimum of conspicuous expenditure, was also employed in the converted warehousing that he transformed into temporary accommodation for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 1983.

Influenced by the tradition defined by Colin Rowe in his book Collage City (1978), Gehry demonstrated his mastery of architectural collage in the Law School Building (1981) for Loyola University, Los Angeles, an urban infill with a latent sense of classicism alluding to the place of Roman Law in the school’s curriculum. In other works a single striking image is employed effectively, for example in the California Aerospace Museum (1982), Los Angeles, where a full-scale F-104 jet fighter is transfixed on the entrance façade . Similarly, his design (1986) for the Kobe Fish restaurant in Japan relies on a sculptural representation of a vast fish-like form at the entrance. Many of Gehry’s works include expressionist elements, while his innovative approach to questions of architectural form led to his being associated with Post-modernism. From 1972 he taught at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and at the universities of Harvard and Yale.

Michael Spens
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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