The Getty Research Institute recently announced the acquisition of a major archive of the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.
The Frank Gehry Papers cover more than thirty years of his singular career and includes comprehensive material on some of his best-known projects. The acquisition is part purchase and part gift.
“Frank Gehry is undoubtedly the world’s most famous living architect. This extensive archive, covering the first three decades of his illustrious career, offers an in-depth look at the genesis of Gehry’s distinctive style and includes many of the projects for which he is internationally known,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute.
The archive encompasses the period from Gehry’s early graduate studies to the 1988 competition entry for the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the success of which marked Gehry’s entrée into a global architectural elite. (Gehry won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize the following year, in 1989.) The archive includes drawings, partial and complete models, project documentation, correspondence, photographs and slides, and ephemera pertaining to 283 projects designed between 1954 (the Romm House project) and 1988 (the Walt Disney Concert Hall competition). The collection also includes materials produced after 1988 for projects which were initiated before that date, including construction documents and models for the Disney Concert Hall (completed in 2003), early design drawings for the Grand Avenue Project (still in development), and materials relating to later phases of projects which had begun much earlier (Loyola Law School, 1520 Cloverfield, and the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica, to mention a few). In total, these documents offer a comprehensive portrait of the emergence and rise to prominence of Gehry’s architectural practice over a 30-year period.
“This archive constitutes a unique scholarly resource for research into postwar global architectural culture,” said Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architectural collections at the Getty Research Institute. “The collection details important architectural trajectories in the decades which witnessed shifts away from high modernism to early postmodern vocabularies, and then to high-tech and digital architectures. Frank Gehry was a powerful figure in this evolution. He contributed to the essential concepts which put Los Angeles and its particular architectural vision at the center of the global architectural discourse.”
The Gehry Archive is massive, comprising approximately 1,000 sketches, more than 120,000 working drawings, more than 100,000 slides, hundreds of boxes of office records, personal papers, and correspondence, 168 working models, and 112 presentation models. In addition to these physical materials, the collection includes digital files which represent Frank Gehry’s pioneering work in developing software platforms crucial in the design process. These digital files pertain to designs for the Vitra Museum (1989), the Disney Concert Hall, and the Grand Avenue Project.
“I’m honored by the attention of the Getty Research Institute delving into the history of my work, my beginnings, and other things that I never thought anybody would be interested in,” said Frank Gehry. “I’m very moved that this great institution, with its resources to search for the best examples of creativity in our world, has found me an interesting party. I will be forever grateful.”
About Frank Gehry
Born in 1929 and raised in Toronto, Frank O. Gehry moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1947. Gehry received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California in 1954, after which he continued his studies in City Planning at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In 1962, Frank Gehry returned to Los Angeles and founded his firm in collaboration with Greg Walsh. The office quickly became known for its innovative use of physical models and drawings in the design process; it later became a leader in the development of new platforms for computer modeling of architectural projects. Over six decades of practice, Gehry’s firm has built an architectural corpus of important public and private buildings in America, Europe, and Asia. Among the office’s most notable works are: the Danziger Studio in Los Angeles (CA); the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica (CA); the Frederick Weisman Museum of Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (CA); the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France; and the West Campus for Facebook in Menlo Park (CA). His work has earned him many prestigious awards in the architectural field. In 1989, he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, perhaps the premiere accolade in the field. In 2008, he received the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at the Venice Biennale. The third annual Getty Medal was awarded to Gehry in 2015. Frank Gehry was the recipient of the Medal of Freedom awarded by President Barack Obama in 2016.
Read the Complete GRI Announcement