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Design & Style

Frank's Inspiration

Frank Gehry

Lesson time 6:51 min

From the great sculptures by Bernini, to the fluid movement in Hiroshige's carp paintings, Frank has found inspiration for his buildings in a myriad of places. See how he translates, interprets, and adapts shapes and themes into his own designs.

Frank Gehry
Teaches Design and Architecture
In 17 lessons, Frank teaches his unconventional philosophy on architecture, design, and art.


I'm influenced by lot of people. I read a lot of stuff. I look at a lot of stuff. And I think that encourages and engages one. And I don't think you can substitute anything for it. You have to be curious and search out these great works from the past. Not to copy them, but to at least understand what it meant. I was fascinated with the fold. I mean everybody through the history of art and architecture has been fascinated with the fold. Michelangelo spent a great part of his time drawing folds. It's primitive, because when you're a child, you're in your mother's arms in the fold. So there's something magical about exploring that idea in something as concrete as a building. I have a very close friend, Irving Lavin, who's professor of art history, who is a expert on Michelangelo, Borromini, Bernini, and all those guys. And he and I travel-- his wife and my wife-- we travel occasionally, go look at stuff. And he took me to Dijon and introduced me to Claus Sluter. There is a sarcophagus of Philip the Bold. And surrounding it are figures by Sluter, Claus Sluter, that are rarely seen. If you look at those, you can begin to see where I'd be influenced on this conference room. In this case I was very inspired with that one piece. If you look at the front, the nose, right head-on, of that piece, you'll see the Sluter dip that he made with the hoods. They came over the heads of the monks. And there's a little dip like that. It's quite beautiful. I didn't realize that I'd literally taken it till later. In my early days in practicing architecture in Los Angeles, I became very close to the local art scene, as they called it. There were a lot of artists that became my friends. I was interested in there work. I was personally close to them and to their work. And I watched them create their work. And they watched me create my work. And there was a kind of synergism between us. Even though they were separate, they were separate but equal, so to speak. And in my formative years of practice, that was an important thing. At Harvard I was exposed to Corbusier. There were people from Corb's office working there that were teaching at Harvard. Corbusier had a show of his paintings. And I looked at those paintings and I didn't like the paintings. I thought they're all over the place. then I saw the designs for Ronchamp, that little church near the Swiss border. And it's so beautiful. That came out of those studies of the paintings. I could see a direct line from the paintings to the building. Made me realize that at least this architect could work out through another media. I mean, like Michael Heizer is really an incredible artist who I looked to. He grew up with a father who was an archaeologist. And so Michael in his early years experienced Egypt and the scale of those constructions. And ...

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.


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

thank you for the insight into the architecture....

Gehry's honesty and humbleness is what inspired me the most, despite all his achievements.

The Master classes were spectacular, very inspiring

An eye-opening class that really touches the heart especially for those like me who are starting in the profession


A fellow student

MR. GEHRY HOW ABOUT “NATURE”? This great Architect claim, very sincerely that he is influenced by other people: great artists and architects – referring to their work but how about “NATURE”? – Naturally occurring elements? FORM VS. FUNCTION You are influenced by 2D or 3D work of art and as a result you produce an ‘Architectural Object’…. therefore ‘Form’ comes first and then a massive task ahead – the equally important other aspect – ‘Function’ – ‘Functional aspect’ - to create/ accommodate all the spaces and requirements mentioned in the ‘Client’s Brief’, inside that object (and also outside). THE BALANCE: FORM - FUNCTION So, ‘Functional aspect’ is equally important to Arhct. Gehry, this is what he has to say: “But in the end, it's gotta be you, your conscience, your talent, your mind, directed to creating a building or environment that other people are going to use, and that has the responsibility of being a good neighbor, a responsibility of keeping the rain out and being a place where people can comfortably live, work, play - all the things you do in buildings - and be inspired by the building, nurtured by the building... have the experience of the building be a positive and uplifting one." AND ALLTHE EFFORT IS FOR WHAT? – For the ‘People’ - You are right, in the end it’s for the Benefit of the Community.

Rosario C.

I loved it, Frank Gehry is inspirational from all points of view. He has respect for "neighbors" when constructing in cities, by being so free in his mind to do where his creativity takes him. Being Jazz a point of reference, to him, clarifies its architectural performances...he said "you can't rehearse what you have not created yet"

Maria G.

I love to see who inspire the artists that inspired me, it open another door into going deeper into their creativity and soul. I really like how he puts it "Where do influences come from? If you see a painting and you can't forget it." I also find really beautiful what he points about how to do a building that the experience in it is positive and uplifting, to be inspired and nurture by it.

Tom C.

I've watched and rewatched the Frank Gehry classes. He's compelling and personal. I love every single moment I get to spend watching him talk about a subject I'll likely never put into direct practice, but the lesson that block is just an excuse you need to power through is something that everyone can absorb. Whether you're taking a class on cooking, space exploration, or interior design... you need this.


Motivational heartfelt insight that resonates and confirms the realities of the process.

Lloyd C.

It is refreshing to see designers at the height of their craft talking not so much about their own insights, but about how much they are inspired by the works of others. Gerry talks in particular about how he sees something that he may not even be able to express why he is attracted to it. He explains how his mind dwells on it and how he attempts to "riff" off of whatever that feeling is until he understands enough of it to incorporate into his own creative act.


He does not brag about his work!!! He knows he is famous but he seems to be surprised about his perfection!!!!

Monique A.

Loved the lesson! Had a bit of trouble in the Hub with the assignment it wouldn't let me upload all the photos and then it wouldn't let me do more than 3 replies when I was trying to spread the photos out.

A fellow student

The lesson is very inspiring indeed! The Document PDF attachment from the video link and the Description link is not working though

A fellow student

A good lesson in trusting yourself and your individual creative impulses, thoughts and designs. Dare to be different and dealing with it when the input to your creation is not so positive. Your voice is you. The creative process is not set but fluid and hopefully fun and agonizing. Some pretty good stuff here. Great encouragement!