Movement: Post-Modern, Deconstructivism
Specialty: Contemporary Architecture
“Frank Gehry Residence,” 1978
“Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao,” 1997
“Weisman Art Museum,” 1993
“Walt Disney Concert Hall,” 2003
“Art Gallery of Ontario,” 2008
“Louis Vuitton Foundation,” 2014
The Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is one of the best known architects in the world today. He has designed some of the most startling and interesting buildings of the modern world.
Early Years and Education
Ephraim Owen Goldberg was born in the winter of 1929 in Toronto. His father, Irvin Goldberg, was an American of Russian-Jewish origin. His mother, Sadie Thelma Caplan, was of Polish Jewish descent. They were both lovers of art, and Irvin first taught him to draw at a young age, and Thelma encouraged his interest in art. His grandmother too was an important influence on the young boy, spending time with him using hardware supplies to make imaginary cities at home. However, not everything was easy for the family, and Frank had a difficult relationship with his father, who found it difficult to provide for the family.
Move to the United States
The family moved to Los Angeles in 1947. The family name was changed to Gehry at this time. Frank worked at a number of jobs to contribute to the family income, including driving trucks and announcing on the radio. He attempted studying chemical engineering, but didn’t enjoy it and quit. He tried an architecture course, found it to his liking, and received encouragement from his teachers. He settled into the course and graduated from the University of Southern California in 1954.
Beginnings in Architecture
Los Angeles was a good place to be for architects in the 1950s, and Gehry found work with Victor Gruen Associates. He married Anita Snyder in 1952, and the couple had two daughters. The relationship broke up in 1966.
Meanwhile, Gehry had to interrupt his work when he had to do his compulsory military training for a year. After returning, he moved with his family to Cambridge in 1956, as he had been admitted to Harvard Graduate School of Design. It eventually turned out the program didn’t interest him, and he left before completing.
Return to Los Angeles
Gehry moved back to Los Angeles and took up his old job with Victor Gruen. It was in 1958 that he had a breakthrough of sorts, when he was commissioned to design a private residence for Melvin David as a mountain retreat.
Gehry lived in Paris for a year in 1961-62, working for André Remondet, while simultaneously studying the work of Le Corbusier. He returned the following year to set up his own practice, “Gehry Associates.” His work during these years was divided. The houses he built for clients were based more on his own evolving style, whereas larger public projects remained more or less conventional. It was while constructing his own house that he began using materials that were otherwise regarded as purely practical evils, including chain link, unfinished plywood and other materials. This marked the beginning of much critical acclaim for the architect.
The Middle Years
By the 1980s, Gehry had begun receiving commissions for larger buildings in the vicinity of Los Angeles, for example, the California Aerospace Museum. This led to international presence, and soon he was making buildings that are now considered masterpieces of post-modern architecture.
It was in 1997 that Gehry built the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. It transformed the rundown Spanish town into an overnight attraction, and pumped new life into the region. The construction of this project made him what some people call “starchitects.”
The Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2004 to much acclaim. By this time, Gehry had begun working with non-architectural concerns. He has designed for Tiffany & Co., and also made furniture and lamps.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in 2014, and in 2015, the University of Technology in Sydney was inaugurated. The architect continues to live in Los Angeles and at his residence in Santa Monica.
1929 - Born in Toronto, Canada
1947 - The family moves to the States
1952 - Marries Anita Snyder
1954 - Receives his architecture degree from the University of South California
1962 - Sets up his own firm
1966 - Marriage with Snyder ends in divorce
1975 - Marries Berta Isabel Aguilera
1989 - Receives the Pritzker Architecture Prize
1992 - Awarded the Wolf Prize in Art
1965 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art
1978 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art
1997 - Triennale di Milano, Italy
1999 - Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
2001 - Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York
2008 - The Art Gallery of Toronto, Canada
2009 - Philadelphia Museum of Art
2010 - The Jewish Museum
Frederick Weisman Museum, Minneapolis, US
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Art Institute of Chicago
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
San Francisco Museum of Art
Vitra International Manufacturing Facility and Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany
Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Torino, Italy
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel
“Frank Gehry” by Frederic Migayrou and Aurelien Lemonier
“Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry” by Paul Goldberger
“Conversations with Frank Gehry” by Barbara Isenberg
“Frank Gehry” by Jason Miller
“Frank Gehry, Architect” by Beatriz Colomina
“Frank O. Gehry: The Complete Works” by Francesco dal Co and Kurt Foster