Magazine article The New Yorker

Gehry at Eighty

Magazine article The New Yorker

Gehry at Eighty

Article excerpt

When Frank Gehry turned an old warehouse in downtown Los Angeles into a museum, in 1983, he wasn't looking for a place to celebrate his eightieth birthday, which was then twenty-six years away. The idea was just to give the Museum of Contemporary Art a place to exhibit for a year or two while it waited for its fancy new building, by Arata Isozaki, to be ready. Nobody expected the Temporary Contemporary, as the place was called, to stick around and become one of the museum's most popular features. Gehry, like his building, is a survivor: understated in appearance and tough underneath. Last week, he invited five hundred friends to the museum, which is now called the Geffen Contemporary, for a party.

Even though Gehry produces some of the most widely studied and discussed buildings in the world, no one can accuse him of living in an architects' ghetto. He played hockey and rode motorcycles until a few years ago, and he loves to sail. The guests at his party included Brad Pitt, Arianna Huffington, Donald Sutherland, Maureen Dowd, and Laurence Fishburne.

"Brad Pitt, he's a huge architecture buff," Gehry said. "He likes architecture parties. That's how I first met him. When my hockey team won the league a few years ago, I had a party at my house, and the doorbell rang and there was Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston standing there with a bottle of tequila. It turned out he had a friend who knew someone on the hockey team who told him about the party, and he'd always wanted to see my house. I told him he had to see the Einstein Tower, in Germany, by Erich Mendelsohn, and he went to see it in Berlin."

There were a lot of personal toasts. "I have written a book about Picasso, but until I met Frank Gehry I had not met a genius who is nice," Huffington said in hers. "Frank Gehry is the friendly genius."

"He was my motorcycle buddy," Fishburne said. …

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