25 years ago I was sent to Los Angeles to report for a British architecture magazine on the curious new buildings by a uniquely West Coast species of architect that we were then hearing about in Europe. Those architects were Frank Gehry, also Morphosis, Eric Owen Moss, Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung, and others, and their work represented a totally refreshing, ad-hoc variant on the rethinking of architecture that was going on at that time following the rejection of doctrinaire Modernism; a rethinking that unfortunately often found expression on the East Coast and in Europe in ghastly, neo-classically styled, real estate.
When it came to choosing an image for the cover of the issue that grew out of that trip, however, I chose instead of a building, a fish lamp — suspended like the moon over the endless cityscape (shown, in cropped image by Tim Street-Porter, above). Designed by Frank Gehry, somehow in its sensuality, humor, elemental beauty and freethinking about what architecture could be, it was emblematic of the design sensibility alive in LA.
This was one of a series created in the mid-1980s out of a then new plastic laminate, ColorCore, and the fish, and curves, subsequently became a signature of his work. Now Gehry has gone back to designing fish lamps, and they go on show January 11 through February 14 at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills and in Paris. Shown, below (in photo by Benjamin Lee Ritchie Handler), is one of the new sinewy fish, made, as before, of metal wire, ColoreCore formica and silicone. Check out the show and see if Gehry’s free spirit remains undampened.