But Does it Transform?
Last night I watched a documentary about architect Frank Gehry, titled Sketches of Frank Gehry.
I’ve been interested in his work since the Experience Music Project (EMP) went up at the Seattle Center. Notice that I used the word “interested”, which can have both positive and negative connotations. Make no mind, this is intentional.
As I watched this documentary I saw buildings that were extremely beautiful, such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao that heads this post, and Maggie’s Center in Scotland. I love the intricacies and forms of these pieces (they are certainly more art than architecture), and it was fantastic to hear Gehry explain the thought and creativity that went into them. It’s really intriguing to explore the artist mind, and see what their thought process involves. The film showed portions of a building design where Gehry and his crew were discussing options, and it almost felt like they were all expressing themselves on a sublevel of human communication. They used illogical phrases and very rarely expressed a full idea. I’m sure part of that is the time they’ve spent together and how well the understand each other. But it’s also a connection that I haven’t ever felt myself in that regard. Unfortunately, for all the talk about insight and thoughtfulness, one of the big feelings I got from these scenes is that Gehry’s sort of flying by the seat of his pants. If he didn’t like something he just tried to add something else goofy to make it “flow” more.
I don’t think I’m alone in this thought, either. What was interesting about this documentary was how they did a good job of showing the detractors and vocal dislike of some if not all of Gehry’s work. The filmmaker interviewed a couple of individuals that were anti-Gehry, or at the very least the movement that Gehry seems to have started. I respected the film more for taking both sides of the story. And it’s not an extremely small minority we’re talking about here. From what I can find, there seem to be quite a few critics of his work. I remember well as the EMP was going up, how local newspapers would write regular articles and polls about how the building would look and what an eyesore it would be. In the end I’m inclined to agree with them, at least as it comes to that example. I don’t like the look of the EMP (outside, at least). I think it’s overdone, and in some regard it’s an example of how Gehry seems sometimes to be mimicking himself with some of his designs. It just seems redundant. I suppose just like the royal family, each successive iteration runs a higher risk of ending up retarded.