When people describe architect Frank Gehry, they often use the adjective “forward-thinking.” It’s impossible to look at his work and not think you’re seeing a glimpse of our architectural future. Mercifully, his oeuvre doesn’t stop at some idealized future point, one in which objectives have been achieved in some platonically postmodern (or Brutalist, or Jetsonesque) ideal. His vision evolves; it moves on.
It’s probably no surprise that Gehry’s conversation with fellow architect Jeanne Gang veered into the philosophical as discussions between artists often do. There was little talk of aesthetics on the stage at Aspen, though—this was more about an attitude toward life.
If one wants to reach forward, Gehry said, the proper method is “don’t look back.” In mistakes, he finds opportunities. In new technology, he finds inspiration. In disagreements, he finds consensus. “I don’t get into conflicts,” Gehry said. “The client pays for the building, so you deliver the [expletive] building.”
In a wide-ranging discussion that veered away from the accompanying slides, Gehry talked about building a warehouse for Facebook, converting a two-story bowling alley into Paris’ Louis Vuitton Foundation, and a few of his own (even ongoing) mistakes.
Gehry is the recipient of the 2019 Aspen Institute Arts Leadership Award, and this conversation was the centerpiece of the Institute’s 26th Annual Summer Celebration. Listen to the entire session here, and learn how Gehry builds not only iconic buildings, but his own creative life.