Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

Expressing Movement

Frank Gehry

Lesson time 06:58 min

It started with an offhand comment about a fish. It turned into Frank Gehry's signature style. Learn about Franks fascination with movement, where it came from, and how he's able to add it to an inanimate building.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Frank's Inspiration • Turning Inspiration Into Design • Creating Movement


I was interested in expressing movement with inert materials. The Greek sculptors did it. Elgin Marbles, if you look at those warriors, they're pressing into the stone. And you can feel the pressure of them today. That message gets through. The power of it gets through. The horses look like they're running. The fabric looks like it's wafting in the breeze. It still feels like it's moving. Bernini's Santa Teresa in Rome, it feels like a fabric. It feels warm and inviting. The fold is the basic child experience in his mother's arms with the clothes folds is so basic to our understanding and our first feelings of love and warmth. And Michelangelo spent a lot of his life drawing folds. The old guys were fascinated. In fact, most of the paintings, the great paintings of the years past, the portraits have the little head on top, and they spend time making that portrait, but the dress and the costumes with the folds is where they spent most of their art time. And I urge you to spend more time looking at the folds than the faces. The Museum of Modern Art had a show on Beaux-Art. And it was just at the point where all my architecture brethren were running out of ideas on modernism, because the dead end of the minimalism thing struck everybody. Malevich took minimalism in his life all the way to the black square. And then he had nothing to do after that. He didn't know what to do after. So he quit, because it was a dead end. And he started making costumes. And Lo and behold, the Museum of Modern Art has these beautiful, beautiful renderings of Beaux-Arts buildings. And the seduction was complete. And Philip Johnson did the AT&T building. And Bob Stern took off. You name it, everybody was doing post-modern and regurgitating the past. And some of it very successfully. And some of it very beautifully. But it was-- I was offended because we were looking backward. And in a lecture I gave, I said the Greek temples you're emulating are anthropomorphic. And if you really have to go back, why don't you go back 300 million years to fish. And that just came out automatically. I don't know why. And then I started drawing fish and my sketch books, just, I don't know why. I started drawing them, because I said that. And then I realized that heroes see good through beautiful fish drawings of the carp. And there are many Japanese prints that I've seen and loved with carp and flowing tails and fins and that kind of stuff. And I started drawing fish everywhere, just in my sketchbook. I never intended to build them, buildings that looked like fish. And then I was invited by a fashion house in Italy to make a fish sculpture. They had seen my fish drawings. And they said could you make a fish sculpture for a fashion show. And I said, of course. And I went to Cinecitta in Roma. And I got them to b...

About the Instructor

At 19 years old, Frank Gehry was a truck driver taking sculpture classes at night school. His vision for what architecture could accomplish went on to reshape our cities’ skylines and the imaginations of artists and designers around the world. In his online architecture class, this master builder invites you into his never-before-seen model archive for a look into his creative process.

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Frank Gehry

In 17 lessons, Frank teaches his unconventional philosophy on architecture, design, and art.

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