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Frank Gehry's first major retrospective in Europe opens at the Centre Pompidou
This April 5, 2014 file photo taken in Arles, southern France, shows Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry during a press conference in front of a model of the LUMA foundation in Arles, southern France. Pritzker Prize–winning architect Gehry, based in Los Angeles, has designed the Fondation Luma as well as the Louis Vuitton arts foundation that will open next Oxtober 27, 2014 in Paris. An exhibition of Frank Gehry's works at the Centre Pompidou in Paris shows, beyond his disconcerting visual language, the consistency of his work. The exhibition runs through October 8, 2014 - January 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS.

PARIS.- For the first time in Europe, the Centre Pompidou is to present a comprehensive retrospective of the work of Frank Gehry, one of the great figures of contemporary architecture.

Known all over the world for his buildings, many of which have attained iconic status, Frank Gehry has revolutionised architecture’s aesthetics, its social and cultural role, and its relationship to the city.

It was in Los Angeles, in the early 1960s, that Gehry opened his own office as an architect. There he engaged with the California art scene, becoming friends with artists such as Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Claes Oldenburg, Larry Bell, and Ron Davis. His encounter with the works of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns would open the way to a transformation of his practice as an architect, for which his own, now world-famous, house at Santa Monica would serve as a manifesto.

Frank Gehry’s work has since then been based on the interrogation of architecture’s means of expression, a process that has brought with it new methods of design and a new approach to materials, with for example the use of such “poor” materials as cardboard, sheet steel and industrial wire mesh.

As postmodernisms triumphed, Gehry for his part escaped them. He explained himself in a now famous dialogue with director Sydney Pollack who made a biographical film about the architect in 2005 (Sketches of Frank Gehry – screened as part of the exhibition). “How do you make architecture human?” ; “How do you find a second wind after industrial collapse?”. Such questions run through Gehry’s work, through both the architecture and the urban vision so intimately associated with it. He is indeed as much an urbanist as he is an architect, the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, offering one of the most spectacular demonstrations of this – an iconic example of architecture’s capacity to revive the surrounding economic fabric.

Following an earlier presentation of Frank Gehry’s work at the Centre Pompidou in 1992, this retrospective offers a global survey of his work. It describes the development of his formal and architectural language through the different periods into which his career may be divided, from the 1960s to the present. This is done through some 60 major projects, among them the Vitra Design Museum in Germany (1989), the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (1997), the Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) and the Beekman Tower in New York (2011).

No other exhibition has ever assembled so many projects – with 225 drawings, 67 models and supporting documentation – to offer a reading of this highly distinctive architectural language. Elaborated in close co-operation with Frank Gehry Partners, the design of the exhibition is organised around two key themes: urbanism and the development of new systems of digital design and fabrication. The exhibition opens at a time when Frank Gehry has been very active in France. After building the American Center in Paris in the 1990s, he has returned in force with two major projects: a start was made on the Fondation Luma at Arles only a few months ago, while the end of October will see the opening of his most recent building, the masterly Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.

To accompany the exhibition, Éditions du Centre Pompidou will publish an exhaustive, 260-page catalogue, edited by curators Frédéric Migayrou and Aurélien Lemonier, the most authoritative work on Gehry yet to be published in French. With an exclusive interview with Frank Gehry and essays by art historians and architectural critics Marie-Ange Brayer, Gwenaël Delhumeau, Eliza Culea and Andrew Witt - its 600 illustrations present 60 of Gehry’s most outstanding projects, built or unbuilt, through sketches, drawings, plans, elevations and photographs.

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