This is the second and the last report upon my amblings into the Gehry’s Land. I still hate the little dwarf, EVEN MORE THAN BEFORE, but I have to avow that I am both puzzled and confused. Some vicious character will hurry to claim that I was never different. It may be true but not by lack of desire or attempt. So, I am going to try to put some order now into my orbs or meanders at your guise. Then, the two last space stations were the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, from where I just came back. They made me think of the Way Station the classic science fiction book of Clifford Simak even if the vague souvenir I have does not seem too relevant for the apprehension of the little merry maker achievements. They carry a certain alien look, eventually attempt to convey the message of a better future, but the mankind in spite of some partial enrichment is still in the same bog than before or worst. However, the souvenir of the book helped me to get to a decisive and distinctive query: do Gehry’s contraptions convey a certain oneiric feeling of space and shapes to come or are they evocative of some cheap cinema productions which mysteriously became blockbuster franchises? Gehry is very much alike a movie director and a movie mogul: a creative compulsive, profligate high roller, who juggles with huge budgets, careful to keep them in the tracks, adores simple peoples and befriends billionaires only. Give him a couple of years more to fool around and he will come with this kind of cities as above or even wilder. My most esteemed patron, the Gehry is a master of the Wild Best. I am quite positive. However, my zigzag travels were not enough to hatch some sense into my query – is he a genius or a joker ? – so let’s check dates before going to the marrow: Vitra Museum in Weil am Rhein (1989), Walt Disney Concert Hall of Los Angeles, (2003), the French Cinematheque in Paris (1994), The Experience Music Project at Seattle (2000), The Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris again (2016) and finally the Bilbao Guggenheim monster museum, (1997). Bilbao! Does it remember you Lotte Lenya song revered Danarel? Gehry made scores of other contraptions than these two, some really weird and sculptural, never leaving anybody indifferent, which I do not intend to tackle, neither visit nor speak about, even if I will be paid in diamonds or caviar. Reflecting a little bit more I may let myself be tempted for the second virtual proposition. Persian please!
Let’s go into Vuitton egg, the broken egg. Was it laid down by a dinosaur was my first thought? Unfortunately, the biggest egg produced by a dinosaur, namely the Hypselosaurus, which humorously enough was found in France, had a far too diminutive size, a 35cm on 25cm oval ball, than to believe the Vuitton ensemble fathered by anybody else than Gehry himself. He always had a soft spot for pharaonic projects as the majority of the top contemporaries architects who have to pay salaries to staffs going into hundreds. Let’s depict it quickly, detailed architectural analysis generates yawning, and before anything I have to say what it is and where it is located. Officially is a museum or better said a set of galleries meant to house exhibitions of contemporary art. It grew or was raised out of the way in the Bois de Boulogne at the end of a metro line, at a hefty distance from the station so better you come by your own car or you are shepherded into a Pullman bus, especially if you are of Asian ethnic stock, retired good people congregation or intensely aroused, high school terminal students of both sexes horde. To make a long story short I have to mention that the architect pretends to have been inspired by Paris’ shibboleth or slogan, call you how you like ”fluctuant nec mergitur” and built a double walled sail ship. The outer wall is made of giant polygonal ferociously bent glass panels. FG adores them and uses them profusely, in and out in the majority of his makings. The inner shell is built of white, enameled concrete panels bent into the most sophisticated soft curves. Unfortunately, concomitantly, I should be damned; it conveys also a public bathroom tiling reminiscence which is deeply anchored in the common human subconscious. And who is the individual who at least once in life didn’t launch himself desperately towards that kind of life buoy? Probably you remind my equivocal remarks about Hundertwasser urinals in Wien? What can I do there is some Meckie Messa in me when there is an opportunity to make fun of something, I must shoot. To stay on more solid grounds I will say that this inner shell is very much evocative of the XIX century steams boats and I emphasize that the little architect indulged further into his high sea navigation metaphor and circled the building by a moving slanted water plane, half artificial lake and half channeled moat, enormously active and impressive with the exception of some dysfunctional dry areas. Only an idiot will miss this easily handled and easily apprehended popular symbols. Add to that the building has two or three enormous open decks offering enthralling views of Paris and surroundings. Some are very appealing bio views of the forest and the countryside, once alas blessed by the presence of glamorous professional courtesans who left nowadays for going into a movies career. The others views are implicitly denouncing the repelling capitalist outlook of the La Defense agglomeration, the hub of the French and supranational corporations. You have to recognize that Gehry maverick masterfully combines in a single move what matters: nature, art and social criticism.
Discretely ( it think that the images above are explicit enough) I share with you the information that FG have some weakness for the double envelope, which he applied it already to his own residence in Santa Monica, and elsewhere. Some pretend that this solid interpretation of the natural defending set, abdomen-womb, reflects the feeling of insecurity the little Jew has to tackle notwithstanding his staggering successes. Anyway, one who steps inside is confronted with a huge atrium hall similar to an old sugar loaf a little bit too busy with information desk, store, restaurant and especially the bulk dedicated to the building’s conception
and construction, ad majorem dei gloriam. The “dei” being Gehry and Bernard Arnault, the richest French magnate, who odd enough, is not a leftist billionaire notwithstanding the company above. And now, just a little detail: from the glass ceiling down, between the walls, along the walls, at various heights hang narrow balconies, suspended bridges, thin catwalks which offer excellent jumping spots for people who would like to end their life in an esthetic temple. Much better that than a ward for terminal patients…And when I say temple I mean it. I don’t push anybody but I feel of my duty to tell that I haven’t seen anywhere so much space allowed to support the argument that the major work of art exposed here is the museum itself. Long live the Museum Cult. The funniest thing of all is that in spite of his involvement with new materials, original shapes, revolutionary technologies, cardinal architectural principles, and good intentions at boot Gehry is first a distinguished, relentless and ruthless, sculptor. Indifferently of the subject, he turns the shell, the shell before anything else, into a set of dynamic, expansive,
impetuous, sometimes homogenous and often overwhelming, shapes. There is something organic in his most abstract forms which recalls me Theo Jansen Strand Beasts or eventually a nice Amazonian Armadillo which has first quality bent shields. .Have a look revered angel to one of the far too many small size models, overcrowding the public space, and tell me if there is not some intrinsic resonance with the above beasts and when I will tell about, just before the end, Gehry’s manic involvement with fishes you will see that there is in what I say much more than simple systematic slander. A master of sculptural architecture I bet? And to add a final compliment that makes me sick he has the knack to booster his barracks with rare, but quite astonishing works of art of other very gifted and of cause, very famous artists. But let’s finish with the Atrium before somebody jumps. The rest is bread and butter Gehry’s vocabulary. A huge window like the screen of the Sky Church, of Seattle, towards the running water sloped surface, corridors, staircases leading or not somewhere, obviously empty and basically invisible galleries that will come in action at a certain moment in time, a giant, bent glass shield, totally inutile, in the hall, protruding cubes in the communal space, some half cylindrical engaged little towers which may have a helicoidal staircase forbidden to plump people, light cannons, and especially the devastating exposure of the structure, wood panels, wood posts and bars, iron beams of any kind, straight and curved, flitch beams, summer beams, fixed, overhanging, continuous, cantilevered, trussed, you name them A giant very scaring robot spider, of the Manga type, threading, instead of enormously tensile and astonishingly elastic silk hard, geometrical industrial profiles was at work here. It left behind a forest mostly of metal, visually embarrassing arrangements humming at unison the same and unique message: don’t worry pal, you are in the safest place on earth. Welcome to the bunker!
I felt oppressed and ready to blast off when I realized the presence of two streams of optic delight. The first chromatic breeze, more dominant from above, was oozing from all over the outer glass shell. The majority of the panels composing the “sails” were tightly covered by slim sheets of solid colored plastic material in quasi musical sequences. Each of the twelve “sails” carried another hue and the ensemble conveyed a state of grace, rhythm and rigor (alive rigor) that recalled the spell of the mondrianesques grids. I didn’t dare to imagine how will look the “egg” or the “ship” when these temporary patches of color which lent so much vibration to the ensemble will be peeled off. Alas, striptease is not always enthralling. Daniel Buren was the author of this glorious “extra-muros” optic musical.
To get to the second delight one has to go down to a kind of underground area or passage where along the northern arm of the artificial moat-channel Olafur Eliasson raised a palisade of very high, ground to ceiling triangular pillars. Two sides of each one are covered by variously sized couple of mirrors while the third consist of a citrine yellow glass lighted from inside.
The multitude of effects, the surprising reflections, the endless interactions, the continuous change of superposed images, ( at least one of these photo should be from the Lady of Shanghai), the recurrence of appearances, are determined in equal measure by the solid and subtle propositions of the artist as by the position or the movement of the onlooker . I cannot remember to have seen an work of art in which the spectator is so much a part of it and the blessed souvenir of the kaleidoscope of my childhood filled me with the enchantment and wonder of lore. Should one want to have an idea what it is to exist simultaneously in parallel universes the Eliasson palisade is the way to it. What may I say? Good art can lead the show and come into prominence on any scene glass ship or dinosaur’s egg included. Ha!ha!
My revered guardian angel, I never dreamed that I will come so far and the last task that is looming scares me out of my wits. And the whole will turn again into a mammoth letter. It seems that material reasonable shrinking it is a dead alley for me. So before I will start to handle the next Jewish plot, that being the Bilbao Junction, all these Guggenheim were of this paleo-semitic bred somewhere in time what explains their pathological tendency to unlimited philanthropy and their immersion into art, for lack of better – a kind of alternate baptism. And before I rush to tell you about the soup I made today I just want to mention that the Guggenheim Museum of New York was planned by the one who was
considered the leading architect of the first half of the XX century, Frank Lloyd Wright. It had the shape of a giant screw or a truncated circular reversed pyramid, depending of the onlooker. The hypermodern architecture started with a bang. There will not be missing blokes that will pretend that the Guggenheim Bilbao was conceived by the leading architect of the first half of the XXI century, Frank Gehry. So the entire saga of the old and new and future contemporary art, which is a white bearded centenarian and more, if it really started with Marcel Duchamp 1914 show, becomes an issue going from a Frank to another Frank and let’s be frank, God only knows what it will happen next, for the moment you have them face to face!
I feel very little concerned about future because I am in the third or fourth day of a mitigated fast. The morning I had a glass of Arab milk curd, I cannot take medication on an empty stomach but being at noon time around the Sainte Anne street, I sled into the Kmart, a Japanese Korean supermarket, just to see how things were going. After shooting some envious glances left and right I decided that a soup cannot be considered a fast break and did some investments in a bag of Haramaruki, Instant Green Onions misto soup and a bag of Ajinomoto which should be something similar in spite of a single shrimp shown floating in a dubious vegetal surrounding. I can bet that the decapod crustacean was reproduced on the product advertising image for decorative reasons only. Without the slightest hesitation I combined the two extracts, and added a generous spoon of Instant Vietnamese Sour Soup Paste which answers to the modest appellation of Hau Om Va Gia Vi Nau Cahn Chua. If some of the people who read this letter want to take a course of Vietnamese I advise them friendly to start by learning food names
to avoid starving. To make it less artificial I added fresh carrot bits, celery branch and hot peppers slices, coco beans segments, and a handful of slightly fried diced onion and slivered mushrooms. My impetus was such that I could throw in a mammoth if I would have one at hand. With a huge effort of restrain I ended the wizardly endeavor with half a bunch of coriander leaves I got from a not identifiable garden. The soup came out glorious but it was so hot and devilish spicy that from time to time I was, dragon like, spreading and spurting and spraying jets of flame across the street.
The Gehry’s Guggenheim museum at Bilbao is an enormous cultural, esthetic, and financial, we will see, MALL strategically spread on the Nervion river shore and tightly framed by two bridges. The fact that I began my visit under a heavy,
abundant rain, that the river was accurately set nearby didn’t hinder the vicious dwarf to create two artificial lakes around parts of the building and to insert in near proximity a serpent like treacherous water fountain (I am not sure that the fountain it is part of his imperialistic ensemble) whose hidden spouts were coming suddenly in action to ensure that you got whatever it was needed to become an aquatic animal. I was forced to recognize that the general outlook is glorious.
To make things worst I discovered an unexpected positive innovation to FG personal idiom. This construct has a rear, a back (partial) and eventually lateral sides a quite rare occurrence in Gehry’s achievements. I turned, during two days around it in a desperate attempt to read something of the metastasis type agglomeration of forms, materials, sections, intentions and three-dimensional sculptural “escort” monuments of heroic size and humorous facture. To say that the apprehension came easy will be a lie and I am indebted to the little that I understood to an aerial photo I pirated (outlaws do not lack consistency) somewhere and to some hasty lectures upon the ferociously successful extravaganza I plucked from nonprofessional magazines. The professional ones, they charge, aggress you and lecture you while shamelessly indulge into unjustifiable questionnaires upon one’s undeclared income and inoffensive secret habitudes. Scavangers!
I will try to make it short but I will need to be stronger than Heracles while chopping the Hydra’s heads. The pharaonic endeavor seems to consist, forget the “escort” sculptures, of four parts. The largest one, titanium clad, eerily light reflecting at chosen hours, near to the river is a pure Gehry’s discourse in a hyperbolic mode. It looks like a joyful mountain, with bent masses, curves of any kind and complexity, exciting vertical power lines defying the sky, sinuous horizontal platforms, well rounded geometrical bodies, mostly decapitated cones, razor sharp surfaces meetings, an unmistakable asymmetrical and totally dynamic general formal articulation, with glass walls or some intentionally brutalized ox eyed windows, top light cannons of turret like facture, a magnificent gas station porch and column presence in front of one of the main entrances and many other things that I probably forgot.
I was nevertheless immediately rewarded for my obstinacy and discovered with glee that the material which made its fame and glory, the titanium panels were stained with rust. Maintenance is a very harsh mistress, my revered patron. We all humans know that. Look how we look after a short time period! Altogether, the outlook of this ship, what I say? the destroyer, the dreadnought like ensemble, that won the war, I will tell you later, which navigates against the stream still being firmly anchored into the ground, towards the La Salva Bridge and to Glory is awesome. It put a broken city on the world map and brought in the HOLY CASH.
The second section, more civil and quiet, and somehow in retreat, is made out of limestone and its conservative openings, I mean orthogonal windows, reminded me those of the French Cinematheque. The walls are generally flat and the angles seems calm and right. It is the calm before the storm. This area houses the big galleries. There is one 130 meters long…The seminal Richard Serra exhibition, the Matter of Time, conveys into an abstract mode some general Kafkaesque anguish and some evidently unanswered existential queries. Always actual and clod in iron contract will keep it in place till the end of the western civilization.
One step more towards the street and we will meet somehow the puzzling and puny rear section, the third one. It seems that it was built of conventional materials ,has a semicircular form, kind of apse and it is thoroughly painted with the exception of the roof in blue Klein or something similar. Now, I happen to know that the museum had a fancy and ambitious Klein display once. There could be any connection between the two data? I doubt. Probably this part of the building houses offices or library, or something of sorts.
The fourth section is a real riot and weird even for Gehry. It is detached from the museum, notwithstanding that some little contiguity you may find if you are searching well. The wide la Salva bridge passes between this something and the museum. I am sure that many innocent people consider this contraption as a result of an embezzlement (they were some very nice ones in the museum young history, one of the directors went eventually to jail) who deprived the contractors of the necessary funds to finish the chore. How I will depict it? It looks like more or less a square tower which was properly teared apart by a giant demiurge and I am thinking of the first generation of Greek gods, a furious Titan who also bent the upper part of the walls outward and eventually stole a respectable vertical fragment. The tears let’s see a monster assemblage of rods, bars and mighty iron beams, evident proofs of extensive welding and plethoric use of heroic size nuts and bolts. The giant structure together with the smart design of metal staircases and platforms, at the benefit of the guards only, are evocative of an anti-atomic refuge. The slightly ochre and buff thin limestone panels plaiting, if I may use this jewelry term, the structure are probably an act of prudent modesty. Why to shock the public with the naked truth? You can reach it only through a long flight of stairs starting from the river façade and peer inside as long as you want. Some tears are valuable, Fontana made a fortune out of them. Nobody was ready to tell me its meaning or function. I even called, long distance, the Museum with little profit. So, I am forced to suggest that this monster appendix which shows from one of its sides a “V” like shape suggesting Victory, it is a message that the architect mailed to himself. While I was dozing another image struck me. Your know this huge saurian, maybe the salt water crocodile, the most terrible of them, that holds for hours, widely opened, its frightful jaws waiting for the teeth cleaner bird to come. For a second, but only for a second the image basculated in my mind and the giant beast opened its terrible muzzle and switched on the tip of this tail like a Yogi standing on his head. Can you believe? Did Gehry thought of that?
Whatever could be the reason of its coming into being, it is today a distinguished and integrative member in the sequence of “escort” monuments. Together with the giant floral Puppy and the tulips of the hard pornographer Koons, the Kapoor’s juggler balls, the Louise Bourgeois pregnant spider (40 years ago when I met her in New York she was already a tiny elderly woman thinking a lot about sex) and Daniel Buren’s expensive use of endless gallons of water proof, foolproof paint to soak his giant arch on La Salva Bridge, today the Red Bridge, the Thing, the Broken Tower, the V, you call it how you like gives to the whole a gentle look of Amusement Park, of Holy Entertainment Area. We need it, Bilbao needed it, the world needs it, let’s go inside, it is a museum after all.
We can do it through the main, main entrance, the one that you reach directly from the street, from the tram stations, from the bus stations, peripatetically. They did not have yet heliport, but remember Seattle and trust Gehry. This entrance was compared to a canyon because its funnel shape. To me, sorry, when considering the determination with which swallows individuals and groups it suggests a vacuum cleaner irremediably aspiring people like dust. I never saw one coming back. I also avoided to give a glance to the four stupid canned trees thrown on the esplanade preceding the entrance. They came from the same provider that brought the spleen plagued arbors at the French Cinematheque.
After that I erred for a whole day around the boat I am now inside the arch, Alleluia, They call it the Atrium. It sounds familiar but it is still superb. A big loaf of sugar (again) with a chipped end was and is the hallmark of the maker. Instead of vaulted end there is a light canon, a flat transparent lid of iron and glass. Three light sources, the main entrance, the second main entrance and the light canon are pulling one up like a mighty pump, the modernist psychopomp. There is not wonder that Gehry wet its pants, I don’t want to quote him exactly, when he went to Chartres. At least is what he said. That had a long range effect. The used material is perfectly assembled; Gehry is the king of finish. An assemblage wizard, here he played with four materials masterfully: wood, white washed concrete I suppose, glass and iron. A winning formula. You are in the kingdom of curves: wide, narrow, vertical, horizontal, parabolic, double, eliptic, bicuspide, bow, cruciform, Amperstad and so on. Let’s not fall in pedantry. The quality of the curves is sublime. They are done for upper class mathematicians. Do they reflect the wrap of the universe? I have some doubts that the architecture of this tiny blob of mud, I mean earth has such cosmogonic far-reaching amplitude, but many of the performers believed it seriously during centuries.
Let’s stay with the curves. Huge computer muscles were used to produce them. Gehry pretends to be a computer illiterate. I have two close friends in this sad situation which is today a kind of infirmity. He does not know to use it but his sidekicks do. And he is a genius. A genius accepts what he does not understand. At the beginning they used CATIA, a program Dassault created to build inutile war planes that were efficacious only once and that pain today to find a customer. After Gehry and the sidekicks launched, the Gehry Technologies, the man has such a Hutzpah, created their own program and milked fat architectural conglomerates for services or rent of their know-how. Later he sold the Technologies to another conglomerate for an astronomic quantity of coins. A modest man, he kept the amount secret. Thanks God that he is a rebel otherwise he will be one billion dollar richer every half a year. I will send him the Che Guevara beret for his last birthday. However the time that the playful dwarf, homo ludens, was doing endless models of cardboard, plastic bottles, paper, plywood, tape or just plain garbage, arte povera of sorts seems either over or less decisive. But let’s go back to the atrium, to the termite nest (that is a compliment, the tiny beasts are the best builders on earth), to the heart of the whole. It is three stores high, I offers easy access to galleries, the different levels are available even for retarded, there are plenty of staircase, the elevators are in Swiss mode efficiency, balconies and platforms propose astonishingly variegated views, and the plan of the various sections is the best I have seen in my life. At a whole is enormously impressive. However, I feel compelled to say that there are many dead ends, blind corridors, extremely busy areas filled with an array of incomprehensible metal profiles and the worst of everything huge armored curved again, glass shields, generally hanging meaningless from the ceiling, or attached to the wall, I cannot look to them without getting dizzy and shiver lamentably. If one of these “fixations” will slid down will cut a bunch of people in two better than an ISIS butcher. Gehry it is sold to them, I am sure that he will install a couple of them in his mausoleum, in and out ruthless. We cannot pass our life in the atrium.
We will go into a gallery. The main one. I already spoke about, it is at the ground level on the right hand. The biggest of all. There Richard Serra hit the jackpot with his The Matter of Time. A permanent exhibition. The matter of time means 80 to 85 give or take some, our life expectation. More we cannot sensate and some stumble into Alzheimer even before. The end is not very funny. There are some few exceptions. Australian Aboriginals when they are not drunk or drugged, or when they are, juggle with Continuum Time which is a cult-ritual concept in which history, space, art, tradition, existence are fused beyond recognition. From Einstein on, mathematician and astro-physicians have access to time space wrap, alternate times, beginning and end of time, and some other weird conceptions and contraptions commoners are unable to grasp even if they are speaking meaninglessly profusely about. Let’s return to Serra, his time is solid. We are in a sort of ship’s hold, The boat in the boat. There you will find 130 meters of sensuous, quite orgiastic, set of abstract catharsis. Contents and container are combined in a mute dialogue while each entity is both signified and signifier, carrier and carried. This enchanted garden is blessed with soft and accurately exact lighting in spite of the multiplicity of sources: natural, lateral and above, and artificial – spots inserted in graciously curved (again) ceiling panels. From balconies located at each end one can admire a set of immaculate trusses reminding the gothic flying buttresses. Are they purely decorative or have some function? The chromatic balance, the equilibrium between the silky shining white of the construction and the brown, rusty, mat surfaces of the artifacts done in withered still is transcendental. Nobody will be shocked to see a pulpit hanging somewhere. Is Serra the rust metaphor man? Not exactly but he fancies metal a lot… He is exactly my age and looks grim. Smile man, smile, you reached the Olympus For God’s sake. Time is short! But that is beyond the point.
The point is the fish, the plain proletarian carp fish of Gehry’s jewish childhood when his grandmother was buying one for Shabath. Goyem cannot understand that. That was family. So, the little dwarf pretend that he found in the fish the curved lines of the universe and the ultimate shapes of the creation, the one that lead to accomplished forms, that it, (the fish, his concept, his creation) is moving even when it is standing, that it expresses simultaneously dynamics, energy, and quietness. You know what ? I believe him… Art needs surroundings… and value. And if we speak of value it was the most valuable investment this ruined city, Bilbao made in all its history. Who were the giant Basques people who lead to that? …Better them than Theresa May speaking nonsense after the London Bridge massacre…they were bankrupt and miserable, a dying city…their industries collapsed…From where they took the 89 millions to invest into the museum God only knows…
they load into the subway Foster made and into the airport the Calatrava did and gave them a flying bridge for free, and Pelli came with a giant chimney building at boot, the Iberdrola skyscraper… And it worked…They put the city on on the world map, and more importantly got a conspicuous income which resurrected the city economy, that is what it is called the Bilbao effect…
Little by little I am coming by, two more issues to tackle, the name of the venture and general conclusions and I am out of the mouse trap I stuck myself. But before that I have some prophecies. I may be wrong, but prophecies are meant to be out of focus. So let’s go. Hundred years from now we will have: the Russian Wermacht ready to strike without to know whom, the Chinese powerhouse after flooding the world puzzled where to go, the Indians learned multitude torn between using their genius to become rich at home or abroad, the Muslim community agitated and plagued by the perennial sexual complex and compulsive rioting, and the western world squealing and whining on a nasal mode, United States included, against capitalism and upon human rights and the poor.
And because we speak about the States, how it come that an American cultural franchise, had a museum in a backyard Basque country which was plagued by financial worries , a terrorist movement and a not very appealing, still very much alive, non Indo European language? It seems that the Guggenheim Foundation got some kind of ownership just by lending its name, rotating there part of its collections, organizing temporary exhibitions and playing a decisive role in the museum management without to invest a penny. More, they got a onetime fee of 20 million dollars while the Basques paid for the building, created an acquisition fund and subsidize the annual expenses. It didn’t lack imbeciles to protest against this kind of cultural imperialism but the Basques government kept strong and stuck to a decision which beneficially changed the destiny of the city and of the province financially and culturally, from head to toe.
And how this ship-fish cultural whale, there is some kind of zoological nonsense here, because it is cultural before anything else, this “Nef des fous” fare in the turbulent waters of aesthetic appreciation? Phillip Johnson who was the Godfather of the American Architecture burst in tears while declaring it “the most important building of our time”. He was then 91 years old. You know old people can be sometimes childish…However after two days of visit and after that I seen so much Gehry that I was near to have an overdose syndrome I begun to hum another tune. Neither age nor senility can automatically indicate a wrong judgement. Experience has by definition an intrinsic value, an irreplaceable one. And when I got the results of the Vanity Fair enquiry soliciting the opinion of leading world architects and I learned that Gehry’s extravaganza got 26 votes out 52, and between the voters they were 11 Pritkzer prize (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for architecture ) and eight deans of famous architecture schools, I made up my mind and I said to myself: ok I am going to howl with the wolves. Then I remember that I was once defining an artistic leader for Madalina as someone who tackles very important projects, finds innovative solutions, is recognized by the pairs and has far reaching influence. It is exactly what happens here. Gehry is by any means a genial architect and an exceptional artist, sculptor before anything else, even if there are some shortcoming in his facture and even if sometimes gets into a joker mood and produces curios work like the Dancing Houses and even if he is beastly overdoing every time that he has the occasion. And the fact that the Rebel likes some caresses, rewards, medals of sort, serendipity trinkets etc., it is a ultimate proof that he is partially human. I still dislike him sincerely but I advise all the heroes who reached this part of my report to my protector awake to take if they didn’t before the first plane to Bilbao.
With sincere thanks and unlimited gratefulness for bringing me till here in fair condition and basically high spirits, always ready for a good mad laugh, I take leave from you my most esteemed patron and protector.
THE VUITTON FOUNDATION, PARIS
THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, BILBAO