Exhibit Recap: Frank Gehry at LACMA

Earlier in January, J and I went to check out the Frank Gehry exhibit at LACMA. It’s a massive retrospective of his architectural career. While I’m no architecture buff, I do very much enjoy observing  and being inspired by architecture design.

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photo via the Guggenheim Bilbao’s website

 (I think most people are familiar with his name, but Frank Gehry is the [st]architect behind famous buildings like LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Abu Dhabi, Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, etc.) 

I loved this exhibit for several reasons. First, Gehry’s style speaks for itself so getting to see all the designs in one space was literally awesome. Second, there were an absolute ton of sketches, drafts, renderings and models, which really give a sense of the process. It’s a design candyland. Then there is a big highlight of how Gehry uses (and advances) technology to complement his craft, something that very much resonates with me. And finally, maybe most importantly, there’s the story of his incredible started-from-the-bottom career and how he eventually realized his unique visions for what architecture could be.

Here are my photos and thoughts from the show that I wanted to share:

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Entrance to the Exhibit, which started with a Gehry-curated presentation of pieces from LACMA’s permanent Japanese Art collection that have inspired him.
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Side shot of the massive structure at the entrance, which is made of a new Japanese fabric technology. It is a paper that can be molded when wet and becomes hard and durable as it dries. It exemplifies how Gehry constantly studies and uses new materials to push  boundaries in his work.
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Start of the actual exhibit, a massive retrospective on Gehry’s career starting from the 1960s.
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Room after room of meticulously arranged works that are grouped into six conceptual themes that trace Gehry’s career arc: Composition, Interaction, Conflict/Tension, Flux, Unity.
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Architectural model wonderland. Here’s one of the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
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Besides the intricate models, I really loved seeing the super-loose initial sketches. What seems like scribbles on a paper really translates to the final building when you see it all together. The man has vision.
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The model of the sketch prior. It was for the Corcoran Gallery of Art design competition. This one was probably my favorite. It was not built 😦
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Side shot. I like observing these things for how he uses lines, layers and depth to create an interesting visual. Even though it is a building this aesthetic can be interpreted in all sorts of other forms.
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Another really interesting part was this section focusing on his studies of objects and how he might use them in his designs. You can see here fish and horse head inspired sculptures.
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Another study in the section.
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As it gets more abstract, you can still see the original inspiration but it takes on a whole new form. I think that’s what’s interesting about creating. We’re all getting inspired from somewhere.
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Honestly I love how human and messy these look, compared to what they eventually become. Oftentimes sketchbooks/drafts I see in exhibits are so perfect and clean!
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That sketch becomes this, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. You can google images of the renderings. Interesting how scale changes what can be seen as a pile of cones and boxes into a crazy building.
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More model wonderland.
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Interesting to see how his studio evolved. As with any great achievement story, he started from the bottom and worked hard to make his vision a reality. The first time he got to really show his true unique style was when he designed his own home. Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities.
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Another interesting building. A big focus of the exhibit was on how Gehry uses advancing technology to make his visions a reality. It reminded me a lot Disney actually. I appreciate anyone who can take the best out of traditional and new media to keep pushing the limits of creation.
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The model. The intricate detail of how each piece is placed couldn’t be done without the aid of technology.
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J wandering the huge room dedicated to Gehry’s studio’s current ongoing projects. I couldn’t decide what seemed most interesting to me, but the larger LA developments will have the most direct impact on us so I am interested in how those will turn out.
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Closing out with one of the first visuals from the exhibit, a love letter to LA from Gehry. He has done a lot for this city. I didn’t know until recently that he was [somewhat controversially] tapped to head the LA River master planning.
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Ok real last picture! I wasn’t the only one snapping away. This old man was so cute! 🙂

The exhibit ran at LACMA from September 13, 2015- March 20, 2016. I expect it will hit some other cities as well. You can read the detailed advistory put out by LACMA here.

//

Update: a Make Believe Reality take, because this wall was asking for it. Happy Easter

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If you’re looking for me, I’m right here.

(To learn how I draw on photos, you can check out Skillshare.)

Cheers 🙂 MC

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