Issue 1 2015 is a special issue dedicated to American architect Frank Gehry and some of his most iconic buildings, including the new Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. All featured buildings are open for the public to visit. Photography by Danica Kus, Marchand & Meffre and Markus Anderson.
Thanks to computer technology Gehry’s forms have become more and more expreimental. However what he initially proposed for the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris was a technically unrealizable project. But as Jean-Paul Claverie (Bernard Arnault’s close advisor) explains, they were able to assemble a team to sort out technical issues and the impossible was made possible. The result was a building surpassing expectations and all the usual criticism in the media.
Gehry has been an easy target for speculation about meaning and value, because his buildings are so spectacular, like sculptural art works that people can use, inhabit and enjoy. And the public loves them. Gehry has never been interested in theoretical concepts; he didn’t like the idea of deconstructivism and has never written any kind of manifestos about his work. This he claims is part of the reason he is not always getting his due respect within the architectural establishment. As Tony Berlant, the LA-based artists and long-term friend of Gehry, recalls in an interview for this issue, Gehry has always felt closer to the art scene, where thought processes are more creative and intuitive.
When Gehry talks about his inspirations he mentions the folds sculpted by Bernini and Borromini. In the 1980s when architects used pastiche elements in a post-modern ironic manner from historical classicism, Gehry designed giant folds in his buildings, playing with scale. His buildings are the most photographed, the ones that best exemplify today’s ‘Architectural Sublime’. When fine art photographer Danica Kus was working on her series on the three most iconic Gehry buildings, she spent long hours around them observing not only the architecture, but also people’s delight in and around the buildings.
The ‘Bilbao effect’ has become an exhausted term, Juan Coll-Barreu, architect from the Basque country with offices in Madrid and Bilbao points out in his article, but without Gehry “the modern discourse on architecture would have been dangerously homogenous”. As someone working and living by one of Gehry’s icons he has witnessed the transformation since the opening of the Guggenheim in 1997. For the post-digital generation of architects the increased play with sculptural form seems natural.