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Conversations with Frank Gehry Hardcover – 1 Jun 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (1 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307268004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307268006
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.4 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 638,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By ka tong on 14 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
gd book, quite thick. havent started reading it, but it's in a conversation form thing, looking forward to reading it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Light in an Empty Room 28 May 2009
By Dmitry Portnoy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a breezily readable, generously and eclectically illustrated book, packed with personal, practical and historical revelations and observations that paradoxically don't really add up to anything.

But wait: that may very well be the point.

First the good stuff. There are many, many pages here that are worth the purchase price: a photo of the model for the Disney Concert Hall that won the 1988 competition and that looks nothing like the finished building, another photo of what the Disney Concert Hall would have looked like had it been clad in travertine as was the original plan, Gehry's stories about surviving the Army and Harvard, Philip Johnson's assessment of the Bilbao Guggenheim, Gehry's practice of leaving building models outside for a year to see what they'll look like in the changing light of the seasons--and many more. I don't want to spoil all of them.

Here's what isn't here: any singular philosophy or manifesto, anything admonishing or inspirational, any broad program or narrow purpose. In the sixties, Gehry started using rough, exposed framework and junky materials like chainlink and corrugated metal because, craftsmanship in construction had declined, and a perfect finish would have been impossible. In the seventies, he turned an ordinary house inside-out and outraged half of Santa Monica-because he needed extra space for his sons. In the eighties, he won the commission for the Disney Concert Hall by making an emotional appeal to Walt Disney's accessibility and unpretentiousness. In the nineties, he created the most astonishing building of the late twentieth century by first refusing a commission to repurpose an existing structure.

Is there a pattern here? A take home lesson? None that I can see. It's all collaborative, and contingent, and improvisational, playful, experimental. Let's try this. That's not going to work? Then let's try this instead. Follow your genius. Go with the flow. Maybe it's all a big mystery.

But no, there's not even any mystery. In one of the funniest exchanges in the book, Gehry says, (of the museum in Bilbao) "They wanted a Sydney Opera House;" to which Barbara Isenberg replies, "How could you tell that?" which prompts from Gehry, "They said, 'We want you to build us a Sydney Opera House.'"

And that's exactly what he did. No big mystery. Not even anything to puzzle over.

In many respects, this book is as open, obvious, user-friendly, and beautiful and witty as one of Gehry's buildings. But it's also, paradoxically, empty. The buildings are filled with music and people and art. The book is filled with words and explanations, which are, I think, playfully, delightfully, even insightfully, beside the point.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Insight Into the Evolution of a Creative Mind 8 Sept. 2009
By R. Crawford - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! Aside from the well documented and beautifully photographed architectural
references, this book offered a great personal view of Frank Gehry's early years, his influences, personal struggles and the evolution of his design and thought process.

I didn't want the book to end. Hopefully, a follow-up book will include more
of FG's early experiences and allow us to see where this next phase of his life will take him.

This book makes me want to go to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Worth Reading, Refreshing 21 Feb. 2010
By Films McMoviewatcher - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What I enjoyed most about this book and a book by Steven Holl I read concurrently was the lack of dogma I've found so prevalent and so off-putting in much of the architecture philosophies I have read. Rather than touting their methods as the best and only way to do architecture, these two come across simply as humans telling stories. Without trying to elevate their ideas or subjugate other philosophies, they present their work with enthusiasm tempered by realism. I found the personality that comes across in Gehry's dialogue makes his philosophies and practices accessible. It wasn't necessarily mind-blowing stuff, but I found the stories quite interesting. A passage I particularly liked was about Gehry advising his students to "be yourself, you're the expert on you. you're the only expert and thats a nice place to be." If only more teachers asked this of their students.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Delightful Read! 9 Sept. 2009
By Lauren Pope - Published on
Format: Hardcover
'Conversations with Frank Gehry' is an approachable look at his art, providing insight into the precision and planning of seemingly abstract architecture. The casual familiarity Isenberg has with Gehry is refreshing, allowing for a genuine representation of a complicated genius. I especially enjoyed the discussions on Gehry's forthcoming buildings. Well worth the read!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Conversations with Frank Gehry -- An Enjoyable Treat 8 Sept. 2009
By Ellen Woods - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A long-time fan of Gehry's work, I found Barbara Isenberg's warm and intimate dialogue with him to provide a more personal side of the man. The photographs, layout, and design of the book make for a stunning portrait of his amazing talent. I've been giving this book to my clients with rave reviews and plan to give it as a guest gift for the holidays as opposed to just another bottle of wine. What an enjoyable treat!
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