Frank Owen Gehry ( 1929) is a Canadian architect born in Canada, currently a United States resident based in Los Angeles.
A number of his buildings, including his private residence, have become world-renowned tourist attractions. His works are cited as being among the most important works of contemporary architecture in the 2010 World Architecture Survey, which led Vanity Fair to label him as “the most important architect of our age”.
Gehry’s best-known works include the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles; Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France; MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Vontz Center for Molecular Studies on the University of Cincinnati campus; Experience Music Project in Seattle; New World Center in Miami Beach; Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis; Dancing House in Prague; the Vitra Design Museum and the museum MARTa Herfordin Germany; the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; the Cinémathèque française in Paris; and 8 Spruce Street in New York City.
Gehry has always experimented with sculpture and furniture in addition to his architectural pursuits, coaxing inventive forms out of unexpected materials.
The Fish Lamps evolved from a 1983 commission by the Formica Corporation to create objects from the then-new plastic laminate ColorCore. After accidentally shattering a piece of it while working, Gehry was inspired by the shards, which reminded him of fish scales. The first Fish Lamps, which were fabricated between 1984 and 1986, employed wire armatures molded into fish shapes, onto which shards of ColorCore are individually glued, creating clear allusions to the morphic attributes of real fish.
Since the creation of the first lamp in 1984, the fish has become a recurrent motif in Gehry’s work, as much for its “good design” as its iconographical and natural attributes. Its quicksilver appeal informs the undulating, curvilinear forms of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1997); the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago (2004); and the Marqués de Riscal Vineyard Hotel in Elciego, Spain (2006), as well as the Fish Sculpture at Vila Olímpica in Barcelona (1989–92) and Standing Glass Fish for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (1986).
Fish Sculpture at Vila Olímpica in Barcelona (1992)
The Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris (2014)
In 2012 Gehry decided to revisit his earlier ideas, and began working on an entirely new group of Fish Lamps. The resulting works range in scale from life-size to outsize, and the use of ColorCore is bolder, incorporating larger and more jagged elements. The sculptures are each unique, and each made by hand.
The softly glowing Fish Lamps are full of whimsy and vigor. As individuals or groupings of up to eight, some are fixed to pedestals, some are wall sconces, while others hang as elaborate chandeliers. Curling and flexing in attitudes of simulated motion, these artificial creatures emit a warm, incandescent light. This intimation of life, underscored by the almost organic textures of the nuanced surfaces, presents a spirited symbiosis of material, form, and function.