“The Art of Building: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry,” by Paul Goldberger

“The Art of Building: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry,” by Paul Goldberger

Paul Goldberger, former architecture critic for The New York Times and New Yorker and current contributing editor to Vanity Fair, exercises great tact in recounting this pivotal moment. Without saying it directly, he suggests how important it is for Frank Gehry to rise in society, to be in the spotlight rather than seeing celebrities from afar. Like Frank Goldberg, he was determined to break into a different environment, and architecture would be the path he would take to do so. When he was 17, he attended a lecture by architect Alvar Aalto, while visiting Toronto from Helsinki. Forty-eight-year-old Aalto, who has already achieved international fame, showed photos of his final sanatorium at the Paimio Sanatorium. The undulating, sculptural form of this magnificent building demonstrated the power of architecture to be healthy. Aalto then pulled one of his bent plywood chairs onto the stage. Here the ability of the thing to pamper the body and have a sense of humor appeared. Future Frank Gehry’s head was turned.

When Goldberger describes how Goldberg turned into Jerry, he depicts a combination of someone manipulating and being manipulated. Jerry says he opposes the name change. “I didn’t want to do it. You have to understand that I was very left-handed, and I was involved in liberal causes. Jerry felt it was ‘withdrawal.’ But Anita, the woman he had recently married, insisted. She was also Jewish, but her maiden name was Snyder » It was less telling, and she wasn’t using the name “Goldberg.” Frank’s mother sided with Anita. His father objected. Frank, who declared his wife a “difficult client,” tells Goldberger: “If you knew Anita, you’d know I had to that. I had no way out. I’ve been in the corner.” He invented the spelling “Gehry” to emulate Goldberg by starting with a G, keeping a high-profile letter in the middle, and ending with a tail.

The mystery in these pages is Goldberger’s own judgment on Frank Gehry’s architecture. We certainly see Jerry in the company of famous artists – Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Robert Irwin were early friends – as we follow his meteoric rise to international fame. We encounter plenty of powerful real estate developers, and learn the backstories of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and 8 Spruce Street (in my opinion, Gehry’s most successful building, suggesting he’s better at residential towers than museums and concert halls). ) and most recently the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum. However, Gehry’s unusually entertaining and intelligent biographer focuses as much on details like Brad Pitt and Arianna Huffington’s attendance at the architect’s 80th birthday party as on the characteristics of the architecture itself. By mentioning names like Larry Gagosian, Bono, Ian Schrager, Candice Bergen, and Ben Gazzara as among the people who celebrated Gehry’s 82nd birthday, Goldberger seems to suggest that fame is just as important, at least to Frank Gehry, as service Social and aesthetic impact of its buildings.

Bono sang at the funeral of the painter Balthus, whose biography was written. For me, that episode with Bono was indicative of the infatuation with celebrity that was one of the more ridiculous aspects of the life of a talented and brilliant artist. Jerry has worked, as he still does, in the halls of power, and when someone as skilled as Paul Goldberger emphasizes all the famous friends, it says a lot.

I’m sure my own opinions come into play here. With the exception of 8 Spruce Street, which is a truly livable place, Gehry’s architecture is something you might enjoy seeing once, but it lacks the lasting values, the exquisite use of natural materials and the rhythmic, humanistic form that the young Frank Goldberg supposedly noticed in Aalto. Most of Gehry’s buildings resemble giant signatures, and one senses the reserve of his biographer. Among Goldberger’s few assessments of Gehry’s work are comments such as “Although many of his forms were startling, even bizarre, they were not arrogant or arrogant.” Regarding the house that Jerry built for himself and his second wife, Goldberger notes “Jerry’s talent for making unusual forms that seemed, if not natural, then at least relatively unconscious. The house, inside and out, had a strange, different quality, but once Overcoming the shock of seeing him for the first time, he may seem gentle, even benign. Goldberger’s final assessment of his subject’s works is as follows: “Geher’s architecture invites interpretations that are as revealing of our lives and feelings as those of Frank Gehry.” In some of his writings Elsewhere, Goldberger extols the merits of great architecture with enthusiasm and passion. Here his enthusiasm is weak at best.

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