by Anna Carnick
Beginning with an insightful quote, Rizzoliâ€™s newest architectural book Frank Gehry: The Houses illustrates his philosophy that "You can learn from the past, but you canâ€™t continue to be in the past; history is not a substitute for imagination."
The retrospective of Gehryâ€™s seminal residential designs over the years includes his work before achieving fame for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. Collectively, they reveal the Pritzker-Prize-winning architectâ€™s early and ongoing experimentation with materials, colors, geometry and form.
They also predict many of the elements Gehry is so famous for today—an engagement with modern art, bellied by unions of sculptural angles and light challenging established norms of structure and geometry and providing a dramatic sense of movement. His application of ordinary materials—chain link, corrugated metal, unfinished plywood—in unconventional ways such as asphalt shingle siding, were at the time architectural breakthroughs.
Inside and out, these are projects that celebrate spaces—sometimes by dominating—and demand visitors' full attention. Recognizing the relationship between art and Gehry's architecture, Sylvia Lavin's introduction sets the tone: â€œEvery inhabitant of a house by Gehry becomes an artist, as they are called on not merely to use its spaces, but to perceive its architectures.â€
Through drawings, plans and models, as well as interior and exterior photographs, The Houses presents a captivating side of Gehry's work, complemented by insightful narration from clients and even Gehry himself. Featuring over twenty projects—some finished, some never fully recognized—most of his work was accomplished without the help of computer-aided design.
As the architect himself says, "I use art as a means of inspiration. There are no rules, no right or wrong. Iâ€™m confused as to what's ugly and what's pretty."
The book reveals his ongoing love affair with art, deconstructionism and experimentation, one that continues to break past conventional wisdomâ€™s expectations even today. The Houses sells from Amazon or Powell's.