Frank Gehry Gets His Due With LACMA Retrospective

Giulio Marcocchi/SIPA Press
Design fan Jake Gyllenhaal with Gehry at LACMA in 2006.

The L.A.-based iconoclast is the subject of a comprehensive exhibit, including not only models and sketches of past works, but current projects: "We are adding a gallery of work that we literally took out of his studio," says the curator.

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The visionary Frank Gehry is the subject of a comprehensive retrospective at LACMA (Sept. 13 to March 20), with models, sketches, interviews and a 2006 Sydney Pollack film that illuminate the architect's shape-shifting canon. "His phenomenal creativity may remind us of artists, but he’s a consummate architect," says Stephanie Barron, co-curator of the self-titled show. The immersive exhibition, which originally unfolded last year at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, underscores the notion that the L.A.-based iconoclast is the most influential architect of our age. By embracing digital technology, Gehry forged an arresting new vocabulary of sculptural, lyrical forms. Iconic buildings like the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, stainless steel-wrapped Walt Disney Concert Hall and the glass-laced Fondation Louis Vuitton could not have been constructed without the 3D software Gehry developed. "He has been this tremendous force of change," says Barron.

An early model of the Walt Disney Concert Hall on display at LACMA.

Gehry’s avidity dates from the 1960s, with nascent structures, such as the architect’s own 1977 Santa Monica residence, fashioned from inexpensive materials. The show is a chronological survey of the L.A.-based architect’s landmark projects, including many that are still crystallizing. "We are adding to the Paris show with an extra gallery of work that we literally took right out of his studio," says Barron, in reference to forthcoming projects such as Facebook’s campus, the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington and 8150 Sunset Blvd., a mixed-use development at the base of the Hollywood Hills.

As an urbanist with an affinity for contextual design, Gehry likes to spark a "conversation" between a building and its environment. The exhibition suggests that people will be talking about his groundbreaking work for years to come. On Sept. 13, the Pritzker-winning designer took part in a discussion with Paul Goldberger, the author of a new Gehry biography. Not that the 87-year-old architect relishes looking back. Says Barron: "He’s more interested in solving what’s going to come through the door tomorrow."