Frank Gehry, the venerated architect whose body of work spans everything from furniture, jewelry, trophies, to water kettles, has recently unveiled Spinning Tales, a series of new sculptures at the Gagosian gallery in Beverly Hills. Divided into two distinct exhibitions, the show as a whole demonstrates the architect’s tireless pursuit to imbue form with a sense of animation throughout his career spanning over six decades.
Gagosian’s main gallery sends the viewer into an ocean of oversized fish, a recurring subject of Gehry’s sculptural work. The internal illumination of three works suspended from the ceiling, Fish Lamps, radiates through scales composed of polyvinyl and copper. The lamps are complemented by floor pieces that each represent schools of fish atop unfinished wood and casters. Gehry began sculpting fish in the mid-1970s in search of a “perfect form” in natural history, as opposed to those found in architecture history sought after by other postmodern architects of his generation. The fish, according to Paul Goldberger in Gagosian Quarterly, “gave Gehry, an architect who generally shied away from conventional forms, the opportunity to use one of the most familiar shapes there is, and make it his own. If the fish allowed Gehry to thumb his nose at historicism, it allowed him to do the same to critics who found his work too abstract, too unusual, or too distant from forms they recognized. No one could fail to recognize a fish.”
In a smaller, more intimate gallery upstairs, Gehry installed an immersive installation that leads the visitor down a circular path that reenacts the Mad Hatter’s tea party scene from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland almost entirely through abstract sculptures. Titled Wishful Thinking, the installation represents one of Gehry’s few opportunities to determine both the architecture and narration of a space. Centered on a glowing table populated by several oversized teacups with absurdly spindling details is a congregation of tall figures, fabricated from brightly painted metal, and playing cards bent far out of shape. “The crumpled surfaces of Wishful Thinking’s figures establish a new visual connection with some of Gehry’s best-known designs,” the gallery explained, referring perhaps to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Guggenheim Bilbao, or the local Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Dates: July 1 till August 6, 2021
Location: 456 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210