Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Summer 2021

Interview: Frank O. Gehry

The legend lets loose on his own legacy and discusses his current favorite project


Architecture, Articles, Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is arguably the world’s most famous living architect. At 92, does he even require an introduction? Pritzker Prize winner. Iconoclast. Angeleno. His buildings are sculptural and controversial — cultural flash points and crowd-pleasing favorites. Last year, Frank Gehry: Catalogue Raisonné of the Drawings Volume One, 1954–1978, edited by historian Jean-Louis Cohen, was released by Cahiers d’Art. The first of what will be eight career-spanning tomes, the book focuses on early works — designs that predate the titanium and computational dexterity that mark Gehry Partners’ best-known architecture. The 1950s through the 70s were a time of wild growth and experimentation for the architect, from his diploma thesis at the University of Southern California (1954), with its midcentury aesthetic akin to the Case Study Houses and rife with Japanese influences, to Gehry’s own residence in Santa Monica (1978), which exploded any conventional notions of home. The abundant sketches and drawings in the Catalogue Raisonné reinforce an understanding of Gehry as a processes- based architect: iterative and intuitive, rigorously searching for form in what others might see as the arbitrary — methods, perhaps, not dissimilar to those practiced by the cohort of East and West Coast artists he ran with at the time.