What’s with Frank (Gehry) and the Fish?


Something fishy is afloat at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, but you have to act fast to catch it: Frank Gehry: Spinning Tales closes on Saturday (August 6), so try to grab a few moments and visit the gallery to view two floors of monumental, sculpture: fish on the first floor and characters from Alice in Wonderland on the second. Don’t miss the related special program about the show, featuring Frank and a few spectacular musicians.

Credit: Cynthia Carlson

Mark your calendars for this Thursday at 5:00PST for what will be a highly produced (and brief) program celebrating  Frank Gehry: Spinning Tales and featuring musical performances by esperanza spalding and Gustavo Dudamel and YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), as well as a conversation between Frank Gehry and Julian Rose conducted in Gehry’s Los Angeles studio.

Marking the celebrated architect’s eighth exhibition with the gallery, Spinning Tales pairs large-scale elaborations on the Fish Lamps series with a new sculptural installation, Wishful Thinking (2021), based on the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In this episode, acclaimed jazz bassist, singer, and songwriter esperanza spalding plays a new original score in an improvised performance in the gallery. The music’s sinuous, free-flowing quality echoes the piscine forms on view. spalding has collaborated with Gehry previously, and they are currently working together on Iphigenia, a new opera inspired by the Greek mythological figure.

Gehry has been involved with the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1970. The Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, which houses the orchestra today, opened in 2003, while the Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center at Inglewood, which Gehry designed as YOLA’s first permanent, purpose-built facility, will open in August 2021. Launched in 2007, the YOLA program has democratized music education for students aged 5 to 18 from LA neighborhoods. It currently supports more than 1,300 young musicians across four sites, providing them with free instruments, music instruction, academic support, and leadership training, under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel.

Dudamel, music and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducts an ensemble of fifteen YOLA musicians. Surrounded by Gehry’s sculptures, they perform the first movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 3. And inside Gehry’s installation Wishful Thinking, YOLA cellist Natalie Aviña plays the gigue from the composer’s Suite for Solo Cello no. 2.

Architectural historian and critic Julian Rose visits Gehry in his studio to discuss the making of the recent artworks and their multivalent connections to his architectural practice, while Tomas Osinski, Sophie Lauriault, and Tae Park—all close collaborators on the production of Gehry’s projects—offer a tour of the architect’s studio, sharing their insights into the technical and procedural complexities of his practice.

credit: Cynthia Carlson

Here is an article by noted critic Paul Goldberger about Gehry’s longstanding attraction to the fish as a form, which is art-criticism wonky, but verifies a decades long obsession with the scaly creatures. It’s neat to think about how something so simple has influenced the artist over time.