Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Architecture on Film: Sketches of Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of a handful of contemporary architects whose work has transcended his field and permeated popular culture. Even those that might not recognize his name will likely have read about his work or even seen it in person. His use of dramatic curved surfaces and shiny metal exterior skins are trademarks of Gehry's style that every novice could point out.

So, it was particularly exciting for me to learn that an architect of Gehry's fame and prominence was going to give the public a window into his creative process. In a new documentary directed by Sydney Pollack entitled Sketches of Frank Gehry, viewers get a glimpse of a renowned architect at work. For instance, many viewers might be surprised to learn that Gehry's geometric complexity evolves initially from a messy doodled drawing not a hi-tech 3-D model, as Gehry is not very computer literate.

I'm sure an architect on Gehry's scale is a skilled bullshit artist - at that level, you have to talk the talk about your "creations" if you want others to buy into the hype and pay you untold millions for your name brand. What surprised me, however, was that this documentary appears to be extremely candid in its portrayal of Gehry (at least, if the trailer is any indication). Pollack is a personal friend of Gehry, and, while I doubt there would be anything too scathing included in the film, it appears Pollack's access to Gehry allows for a much more intimate portrait of him than would otherwise be possible. And it seems that Gehry is enough of a character to make that portrait extremely interesting.

Check out the trailer here. I know this film is now high on my "must see" list.

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