Photo Essays

Frank Gehry Frames LACMA’s Calder Exhibition

by Hrag Vartanian on February 5, 2014

A view of the Frank Gehry-designed installation of "Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (© Calder Foundation, New York, Artists Rights Society, NY, photo © Fredrik Nilsen)

A view of the Frank Gehry-designed installation of “Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (all images © Calder Foundation, New York, Artists Rights Society, NY, photo © Fredrik Nilsen)

LOS ANGELES — Architects often, not always, make good exhibition designers. It may seem obvious, since architects as a rule frame and organize space, but few actually get involved in the design of major museum exhibitions. Frank Gehry is an exception to the rule and the Los Angeles-based architect has for decades been designing exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), including last year’s Ken Price show and even a show back in 1968 for artist Billy Al Bengston.

His latest exhibition project focuses on the sculptures, stabiles, and mobiles of 20th century American artist Alexander Calder. Responding to Calder’s linear forms, biomorphic shapes, and affection for sweeping angles, Gehry uses crisp niches, modernist railings, and transitions from light blue, gray, and white walls to frame this coherent and well-known body of work.

Contrasted against the dark gray floor, Gehry uses different types and heights of podiums and shelves to emphasize each work’s flourishes and distinctive shadows. The show echoes a little of Calder’s playfulness, but a strong sense of bygone utopia prevails in Gehry’s clean surfaces, minimal wall text, serious tone, and austere spaces.

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The Frank Gehry-designed exhibition Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic continues at the Resnick Pavilion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles) until July 27.

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  • Jeffrey Turner

    That’s not a very good installation, Calder’s work needs space, not confined in a niche.
    Gehry should go back to architecture and fix the trail of leaky roofs he’s left behind.

    • http://hragv.com/ Hrag Vartanian

      I think it worked. I agree it was a little crowded but the installation did make me are Calder anew.

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