Notes from Sketches of Frank Gehry

Notes from Sketches of Frank Gehry:

His first house in LA became his experimental playground, and eventually changed the course of his career.

I loved the idea of leaving the house intact and not messing with it. I came up with the idea of building the new house around it. – 9:30

Let me tell how he finished his house. One day he went up to shave in the bathroom, and there was no light to shave by. And so he picked up a hammer and knocked a hole into the ceiling, into the California sun. And then he shaved by it. – 10:30 (Charles Jencks, friend)

At the same time as I did [my] house, I was building Santa Monica Place. The night Santa Monica Place opened, we had a dinner here with the president of the Rouse company [who had paid for the development]…and he said, “What the hell is this!” I said, well, I was experimenting and playing with it. And he said, do you like it? You must like it! And I said, I do. He said, well, if you like this, then you can’t possibly like that–and he pointed over there, toward Santa Monica Place. And I said, you’re right, I don’t. And he said, so why’d you do that? I said, because I had to make a living. And he said, stop it. Stop it, don’t do that. And I said, you’re right. Now at that moment, 45 people in my office were working on projects for him. And he and I shook hands that night and decided to quit everything. And it was like jumping off a cliff, it was an amazing feeling, and I was so happy from then on. And even with all the stress of it, it just made me very happy. – 11:00

There is a huge amount of discussion about how the light hits a building, both from Gehry and Philip Johnson, throughout the film.

On his prototypes (always a combination of physical models and drawing):

I always work on two or three scales at once. Keeps me real. In my head, it keeps me thinking of the real building. I don’t become enamored with [the models]. Otherwise it could become jewelry, the object of desire, which I don’t want it to be. – 19:00

And his admiration of painters:

If I have a big envy in my life, it’s about painters. I wish I was a painter. What I’m fascinated with is the moment of truth. There’s the canvas, it’s on your easel, you’ve got a brush, and you’ve got this goddamn palette of colors and what do you do. what’s that first move. I love that dangerous place. [Interviewer: Have you ever tried to paint?] Never. I wouldn’t dare. because I wouldn’t know what to do. I know how to do a building. – 1:08:00