GEHRY’S EISENHOWER – ART OR FARCE?


THE DEBATE OVER THIS MEMORIAL IS REFRESHING, BUT COMES DOWN TO LIKING THE DESIGN OR NOT, SIGNIFICANT ARCHITECTURE FOR THE MASSES.

FRANK DOES WHATEVER HE LIKES. AND I MUST ADMIT HIS RIBBON DESIGNS OF DISNEY HALL IN LA AND BILBAO IN SPAIN ARE SPECTACULAR, BUT BOTH LACK RATIONAL MANIPULATION OF FORM THAT I RESPECT. BUT, OVERALL THEY ARE SENSUOUS. THE DOWNSIDE BEING LARGE FILING CABINET BOX ADMINISTRATION BUILDINGS ADJOINING THE MUSEUMS. MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO CLUE THAT THE OFFICE BUILDINGS ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE MUSEUMS, AND WHEN THEY ARE AWARE OF WHAT THEY ARE, SHOW NO OUTRAGE. LACKING CONSISTENCY, WHO CARES?

FRANK IS A MAN OF MANY LOOKS, AND I HAVE FOUND NUMEROUS DESIGNS OF HIS INSULTING. HIS CYCLONE FENCING ERA, EXPOSED STUD FRAMES, ASPHALT FLOORS, HIS FORM FOR FORM SAKE, MARGINAL TWISTING HIGH RISE CONDO TOWERS, BINOCULAR GIMMICKS ETC.

WHEN HE GETS ON HIS ART CRAZE ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN, AND THE EISENHOWER MEMORIAL OF A SERIES OF GIGANTIC UNIFORM COLUMNS MARCHING ALONG IN A PREDICTABLE MANNER WITH A HEAVY STEEL MESH BILLBOARD SCREEN SPANNING BETWEEN WITH EISENHOWER YOUTH IN KANSAS CENTER STAGE GOING NOWHERE.

IN FRONT OF THE GIGANTIC SCREEN STATIC DRAMA ARE THE HUMAN SCALE RELIEFS BATTERING AROUND INFORMATION. THIS ALL LEAVES ME BORED. THE TREES PLAY A DOMINANT ROLE. BY THEIR SIZE I ASSUME THEY EXIST.

THERE IS A TEMPORARY FEELING ABOUT THE SCHEME THAT SUGGESTS A MOVIE SET THAT WILL DISAPPEAR. ALL SO FLEETING AND SYSTEMATIZED, LIKE MAMMOTH PROPS FOR A GULLIVER’S TRAVEL CLIP, HOLLYWOOD IN CHARACTER, BUT STRANGELY FROZEN.

THE FRAMED VIEW OF THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT AND CAPITAL BUILDING DIRECTED BY A TREE SWATH IN THE PARK IS CLEVER, BUT HARDLY A BIG STATEMENT. THIS WALK IN THE PARK INTERWOVEN WITH GIGANTIC MONUMENTALITY AND BANAL SIGNS PERPLEXES ME, AND DOES NOTHING TO SUGGEST A HIGHER CALLING. IKE’S LIFE CAN INSPIRE OTHERS TO FIGHT AND PROTECT THE U.S. INTERESTS OF LIBERTY, WHETHER ALL HIS MOTIVES AND ACTIONS WERE CORRECT IS NOT THE ISSUE. IKE WAS A SIGNIFICANT LEADER DURING A DEFINITIVE WAR AGAINST EVIL, AND WHILE PRESIDENT, DIRECTING THE COLD WAR AT A CHALLENGING TIME,.

THE DESIGN IS A BUNCH OF PARTS THAT LACK ANY FORM OF COHESIVENESS. BY NOW WE EXPECT FROM GEHRY A STRONG FORM AT LEAST. THE MEMORIAL IS BIG AND RIGID, BUT NOTHING TO GET EXCITED ABOUT. IT IS LIKE GOING TO A DRIVE IN MOVIE WITHOUT MOVIE OR SOUND, JUST A SIGN ON THE MOVIE SCREEN.
THE SMOKE STACK COLUMNS ABANDONED FOR LACK OF NEED WAITING TO BE FIRED UP.

WINTER WILL BE COLD. WHAT ABOUT THE SNOW AND ICE APPEAL? OR ARE WE TO RELATE TO IT AS THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE?

I AM MYSTIFIED BY THE REDUNDANT TWO ROWS OF HUGE COLUMNS THAT HOLD UP NOTHING OTHER THAN A MESH OF STEEL SPANNING BETWEEN. I AM WAITING FOR THEM TO PERFORM. THE COLUMNS ARE BIG, AUSTERE AND STAGNANT. WHEN WILL THE ROOF GO ON? OR IS THAT THE POINT? THEY ARE PART OF AN INDUSTRIAL RUIN?

THE CRITICS AND FAMILY OFFER NO ALTERNATIVE TO SHOW WHAT COULD BE.

AN OPEN COMPETITION WOULD BRING FORTH OTHER OPTIONS. GEHRY’S DESIGN CHALLENGED BY COMPARISON, THUS OFFERING SUBSTANTIAL REASONS TO OBJECT.

AS FAR AS TOWING THE LINE OF DUE PROCESS BEING VIOLATED BY QUESTIONING HOW THE DESIGN GOT THIS FAR, THAT IS THE AMERICAN WAY, TO RAISE PUBLIC OUTCRY AND MAKE ADJUSTMENTS.

AFTER ALL, IT IS THE PEOPLE’S MONEY THAT IS BEING SPENT TO BUILD THIS, MATCHED BY FUNDS COMING FROM THE FAMILY. MONEY TALKS.

THE ONLY COMMENT THAT GEHRY HAS MADE, IS THAT HE WILL WORK WITH THE FAMILY, AND MODIFY THE SCHEME. GEHRY IS FLEXIBLE SOMETIMES, AND THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. HE MIGHT CHUCK THE ORIGINAL DESIGN AND START OVER. HE BEING ALL TOO FAMILIAR WITH OUTCRIES THAT DERAIL PROJECTS.

NEWS FLASH!!! JUST RECEIVED AN UPDATE THAT GEHRY CHANGED A FEW THINGS. AM I MISSING SOMETHING? I AM NOT OBJECTING TO STATUES OR DIFFERENT RELIEFS, I AM OBJECTING TO THE OVERALL DESIGN. NOW WE HAVE A MANGER SCENE OF REALISTIC STATUES, SO TRITE.

GEHRY’S COMMENT “I would be proud to wear an ‘I Like Ike’ button every day for the rest of my life.”

BESIDES BEING A CREATIVE ARCHITECT, FRANK IS A SENSIBLE BUSINESS MAN.

THIS BLOG IS MEANT TO GET SOME SERIOUS DIALOGUE GOING, WHAT IS MEANINGFUL ARCHITECTURE WHEN EMBELLISHING THE GENERAL AND PRESIDENT OF OUR RECENT PAST?

GLEN HOWARD SMALL

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  • eric chavkin

    Gehry’s fractured symbolic narrative is no master metaphor or grand gesture. It is conceptually weak here and like most all of his works this is a collection of parts held together like beads with a thin string of logic, easily snapped.

    But I just blame or single out Frank Gehry. Most all SoCAL architects under his influence do the same; Mayne, Moss and the student generation after. The gestural tactics are similar, the formal strategy the same: take a complex architectural program and render it visually more complicated. This is complexity plus contradiction. Pun intended.

    eric chavkin

  • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

    ERIC,

    WHERE IS THIS ONE LEADING? TRUE GHERY IS INFLUENTIAL, BUT GOING WHERE ON THIS ONE? ALL FOR CUTTING THE BEAD STRING.

    GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    I will dip a second toe into this pool…

    The snapshot ‘this is your life’ approach to this memorial illustrates an approach I would describe as fractured. The memorial is a sum of its parts, each part representing segments or moments in the president’s life. Some are representational, some symbolic. It doesn’t matter much. The timeline screen or symbolic elements ‘speak’ in this weak architectural presentation as ‘bullet points’, as if one needs to convince onlookers and tourists of this presidents greatness or character. The overall experience I fear will beg the question ” well he did all these wonderful things, but what makes him great?”

    The answer to that question, rendered visually, as architecture, in monumental form (and I dont mean big or large) is what is needed here. And the answer has something to do with strength of character.

    I have not studied the man but words that do come to mind are courage, resolve, humility. if one could express qualities of character as form that would make a monument. A timeline does not make a life nor a resume a measure of ones accomplishment. The architecture should embody, that is contain and express, this depth of character.

    I don’t think that Gehry’s proposal has the required depth to do this. And i think that the lack of depth has everything to do with the architect.

    I gigantic I LIKE IKE button would of been better than this.

    eric chavkin

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      YOU ARE ON TO WHAT MAKES A MONUMENT, A RUSH OF FEELINGS PROJECTED BY THE PHYSICAL FORM.

      IKE WAS A REALIST PAINTER, AND HATED MODERN ART. PORTRAYED IT AS SOMETHING RUN OVER BY A TRUCK. NOT EXACT QUOTE, BUT CLOSE. OBVIOUSLY REFERRING TO JACKSON POLLACK.

      SO WHATEVER IS DONE, IT HAS TO HAVE A UNIVERSAL APPEAL. REMEMBER TRADITIONALIST PRINCE CHARLES, PRAISING FAYE JONES WOOD CHAPELS, BRIDGING THE GAP WITH BEAUTY.

      GLEN

  • david

    This might be an uninformed observation, but it feels like it skips the actual lifespan of the structure and goes right to the ruins of it, trying to establish a sort of permanence or importance without earning it.
    And maybe skipping to the end is appropriate for a dead man, but it trivializes his contribution by keeping it’s importance in the past.

    -david

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      DAVID,

      YOUR COMMENTS ARE HEAVY.

      THE PERMANENCE YOU REFER TO MUST BE THE COLUMNS AND TREES.
      AS I STATED THESE ARE HOLLOW FOR ME.

      SKIPPING TO THE END WITH PHOTOS AND STATUES TO ME IS LIKE A NEWSPAPER THAT WILL BE THROW IN THE TRASH THE NEXT DAY. THE LIFE OF LIVE CONTRIBUTIONS, AS YOU SAY, IS MISSING.

      THE WORSHIP OF THE DEAD IS NOT THE OBJECTIVE.

      GLEN

  • maninthemirror

    Hard to believe this is a F Gehry design. Looks more like a second year architectural student’s work. Has he finally lost it?
    Having said that FG has done some good work in the past, is one of the few living artists cum businessman, possibly the most famous living architect and still going strong at 80 plus. Hats off to him for that.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      MITM,

      YOU ARE SO KIND, REFRESHING TO THE COMPETITIVE WORLD.
      2ND YEAR IS TOO GRACIOUS.
      FRANK DEPENDS ON SHOCK, AND TO ME THIS IS SHOCKING. MAYBE THE REACTION HE WAS ANTICIPATING. I AM SURE HE CAN EXPLAIN IT ALL IN A LOGICAL FRIENDLY WAY, BUT I KNOW HIM BETTER.

      HE LIKES THE BAD BOY IMAGE, AND WAS BORED WITH EVERYBODY WANTING ANOTHER RIBBON DESIGN. BUT THE DOWNSIDE IS NOT BEING UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED WITH THIS DESIGN, WHICH HAS LED TO A VERY EDGY SITUATION WITH FEAR OF BEING REPLACED. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.

      80 IS A GOOD AGE, BUT 100 SOUNDS BETTER TO ME.

      GLEN

  • maninthemirror

    Glen,
    Maybe you are right. It has shocked me too, but what he has got here is more publicity than if he had done one of his ribbon designs.
    And the best part is that after getting this publicity, he can go back and do what he would have rather done in the first place – one of his ribbon designs.
    MITM

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      MITM

      FRANK IS TIRED OF HIS RIBBON DESIGNS, HE DOES NOT WANT TO DO ANOTHER ONE. LIKE ANY ARTIST THEY GET TIRED OF WHAT THE PEOPLE EXPECT OF THEM.

      FRANK AT HEART WANTS TO SHOCK AND BE THE BAD BOY. A FAMOUS QUOTE FROM RAY KAPPE ABOUT TALKING TO FRANK IN THE SEVENTIES WAS. FRANK SAYING: ” I THINK OF WHAT SHOULD BE DONE AND I DO JUST THE OPPOSITE.” THAT IS THE REAL FRANK.

      BUT THIS TIME FRANK IS ON SHAKY GROUND, BECAUSE WHAT HE CREATED MISSED BE COMPELLING AND DIFFERENT. JUST A WEAK SOLUTION THAT GETS ALMOST UNANIMOUS CRITICISM FROM ALL.

      HOW HE WILL GET OUT OF THIS FATE IS OF INTEREST. WHO KNOWS, IT MIGHT BECOME THE DARLING OF THE TOURIST CURIOSITY.

      GLEN

  • maninthemirror

    Glen.
    Like Frank, it is obvious that you too like to shock.
    But do you like the bad or good boy image?

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      MITM,

      GOOD QUESTION. I MUST ADMIT, MY SHOCK THING COMES NOT FROM MY WORK, BUT BY MAKING OBSERVATIONS AND ASKING QUESTIONS. OTHERS DO THE SAME TO ME, WHICH WHEN I AM NOT PREPARED, SETS ME OFF. MY WORK BEING MY SENSITIVE POINT.

      RECENTLY GETTING FLAX ON THE DOWNTOWN TROPISPHERE. THE COMMON CRIT THAT THE DRAWINGS AND FORM COULD BE BETTER, YES TO BOTH, BUT THE IDEA IS IN TACT AND EXPRESSED. THE FUTURE TO REWARD.

      DIALOGUE AND DEBATE I AM GETTING BETTER AT, I CONTROL MY ANGER AND FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH EXCHANGES OF DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW, AND LEARN IN THE PROCESS.

      IN MY CASE THE ULTIMATE INSULTS ARE SILENCE AND BEING IGNORED.

      FEW IN THE ARCHITECTURAL PROFESSION WANT TO TAKE ME ON IN DEBATE, YOU, ERIC AND CARLOS BEING THE EXCEPTION. BUT SUSPECT, BECAUSE YOU ALL RESPECT ME.

      MOSS, MAYNE, NOR GEHRY NOT WANTING ME AROUND TO LIVEN UP THE DISCUSSION. I AM BLACK BALLED.

      I JUST WATCHED A RECENT 25 YEAR REWARD INTERVIEW OF GEHRY ABOUT HIS HOUSE. HE STILL LIVES THERE AND GETS OFF ON THE DRAMA OF SHOCK IT PROVOKES.

      GLEN

      • maninthemirror

        Glen,
        I think would make a good politician, as you start off by saying “good question”, but then go on not to answer whether you like the good or bad boy image. :)
        Also are you going to be putting up your recent lecture on you tube?
        Cheers
        MITM

        • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

          MITM

          WHAT FASCINATES ME IS THAT ONE WOULD ASK SUCH A QUESTION, AND MANY DO.

          I CONSIDER MYSELF A GOOD BOY, AND DESIGN TO UPLIFT PEOPLE’S SPIRITS. BUT TO MANY I AM THE BAD BOY CRITICIZING OTHERS WORK.

          I STARTED THIS BLOG ABOUT PRAISING SOME PROJECTS OF GEHRY’S WORK, SO I DO GIVE RESPECT TO WORK THAT I ADMIRE.

          I SPEAK MY MIND. OTHERS TAKE EXCEPTION TO MY COMMENTS, WHICH IS CORRECT. BUT WHAT I RESENT IS TO BE BRANDED AS BEING NEGATIVE. JUST NOT SO.

          I CRITICIZE TO QUESTION WHAT I THINK NEEDS TO BE THOUGHT ABOUT. WHETHER IT INFLUENCES OTHERS IN A POSITIVE WAY IS THE QUESTION? I HOPE SO.

          THE LECTURE TAPE ON MY GREEN PROJECTS IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING FINISHED. I DO NOT HAVE IT. HMC IS PUTTING THE FINAL TOUCHES ON IT. I REGRET THEY WERE UNABLE TO TAPE IT ALL. SO THE LAST FEW PROJECTS ARE MISSING ALONG WITH THE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.

          IT SHOULD BE READY FOR U TUBE SHORTLY.

          PATIENT,

          GLEN

          • maninthemirror

            Glen,
            Hope I continue to fascinate you with my brand of ” blatently honest ” questions.
            Your answer to being a good boy but being thought of by others as being a bad boy, led me to thinking that FGehry might be feeling just like you.
            Unfortunate that the question answers of your lecture are missing as that section is normally the most interesting.
            Being patient
            MITM

          • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

            MITM

            MY READ IS THAT GEHRY EXPECTS AND THRIVES ON CONTROVERSY. AT EASE WITH HIS CHOSEN DIRECTION. SEE HIS RECENT INTERVIEW ON HIS 25TH ANNIVERSARY ON HIS HOUSE. I THINK IT WAS IN ARCH, RECORD ON THE INTERNET. HIS STANCE AS DONE HIM WELL.

            BUT WHAT IS NEW, IF YOU READ SOME OF THE COMMENTS ON THE EISENHOWER MONUMENT, IS THE OUTRAGE AND ANGER DIRECTED AT GEHRY. MY CRIT IS MILD IN COMPARISON AND CONCENTRATES ON ARCHITECTURAL CONCERNS, WHERE AS OTHERS DO CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS AS WELL AS TRASHING HIS WORK.

            THIS PUBLIC AND PROFESSIONAL WIDE SCALE ANGER I HAVE NOT BEEN AWARE OF BEFORE. HE DEFUSES WITH HIS SOFT EXPLANATION APPROACH OF THE MIS UNDERSTOOD IDEAS ON THE PROJECT .

            IN THE PAST, THIS HAS WORKED FOR HIM AS THE ABUSED ARTIST THAT PEOPLE RALLY TO PROTECT. I LEARNED THIS THE HARD WAY. WIN THE BATTLE LOSE THE WAR.

            GEHRY IS STRONG NOW WITH HIS TRIUMPHS, SO CHALLENGING HIM STRAYS FROM THE EISENHOWER MEMORIAL PROJECT.

            YES, THE TAPE LOST A LOT OF IMPORTANT MATERIAL, SO GOES THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE TECHNOLOGY LIFE.

            GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    “Shocked! I am shocked that there is gambling in this casino!”
    A bit of a paraphrase from the film Casablanca.

    The shock of architectural juxtaposition is not new. When Mies presented his famous glass skyscraper photomontage amidst the brick and stone Berlin downtown that was shock. When Corbusier raised Paris and substituted a grid of modern towers , that was a shock. But not just for effect. It was to separate their vision from what was there. Shock was the result of contrast, difference.

    Mies shocked Berlin and the world to make visible his new system of architecture based on glass. Corbu shocked Paris with his relentless rationalism, wiping away the old to make way for the new. Their shock illustrated a new system. Your Troposphere proposal is that kind of shock. The shock OF a new system. Either replacing the old like Biosphere, or superimposed to improve, like Troposphere. The shock is the realization of a new architecture, a new world that is is just decades or years away. Like Mies , like Corbu. Shocking yet sublime.

    Gehry shocks in a similar way but not the same. His shock is the shock of an artist. His ‘new world’ substitutes images for system. The shock is the WTF type and resonates like graffiti. The shock of something out-of-place.

    Your shock is like first seeing the future. It is the shock of wonder.

    Stay thirsty my friend

    eric chavkin

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      CHANGE IS A CHALLENGE, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT DISRUPTS THE FAMILIAR. FOR MANY IT IS A SHOCK. DURING MY RECENT TRIP TO LA THE PREDOMINENT PATTERN OF LOW DENSITY HOUSING WAS THE GABLE ROOF THAT MULIPLIES AT A FRANTIC RATE. A GIVEN THAT HAS NOT CHANGED FOR A HUNDRED YEARS. I EXPECTED DIFFERENT AND BUILT MY HOUSE TO SHOW THE WAY. SHOCKING TO THE VAST MAJORITY. BUT I REALIZED IT DOES NOT MATTER. THE PATTERN IS SET.

      GEHRY IS SHOCKING WITH NO DEEPTH. YOU CLAIM AN ARTIST APPROACH. THERE ALSO IS THE ARTIST APPROACH THAT MAKES ONE CONSCIOUS OF A NEW VISUAL BEAUTY OR HIGHER CALLING. MEMORIALS HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY. BURNO TRAUT (SP) TOME DID THAT FOR ME. AND MY ROTUNDAS IN MANAGUA EVOKE BY EXAMPLE.

      GEHRY IS HAPPY IN HIS BAD BOY GROVE, BUT THIS TIME SHOUTING WITH A WHIMPER.

      GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    Critical interpretation of others work is like peer review. Some are diplomatic, others are vicious. I am on the vicious side.

  • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

    ERIC,

    NOT VICIOUS, BUT ONE THAT FIGHTS WITH ALL THOSE CLEAVER CREATIVE DESCRIPTIVE OFF BEAT WORDS AND VAST KNOWLEDGE, THE BIG PICTURE SUMMARY BEING YOUR CLOSER.

    THE ULTIMATE, BEING IN A POSITION THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO LOSE. YOU ARE HONEST, HOW FRIGHTENING.

    YOUR FRIEND,

    GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    NOT VICIOUS? I use a CREATIVE CLEAVER and I BEAT up people with WORDS.
    hahaha
    There is a method to the madness.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      MY SPELLING FLAWS GET ME INTO TROUBLE. CLEVER NOT CLEAVER, BUT IN A WAY SAYING THE SAME THING.

      GLEN

  • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

    READERS,

    AS YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTICED, THE FAMILY OF EISENHOWER HAS RESPONDED TO GEHRY WITH NO.

    The nation’s economic downturn “ushered in a new era” for 21st century memorial projects, the family said, along with the need to reconnect with Eisenhower’s values of celebrating things that are simple, sustainable and affordable.

    THE BEAT GOES ON. I FEEL LIKE DOING A DESIGN, BUT THAT WOULD BE IN BAD TASTE? THE FAMILY IS WITHOUT AN IMAGE TO COUNTER WITH. BUT I KNOW SO LITTLE ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND THE DESIRES.

    I FEEL IT IS OK TO PUBLIC CRITICIZE, BUT TO DO A COUNTER DESIGN IS CROSSING THE LINE.

    THERE IS THE ARCHITECTS UNWRITTEN CODE. DO NOT INFRINGE ON ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE ARCHITECT.
    I KNOW THAT IS VIOLATED ALL THE TIME WITH CLIENTS WANTING SECOND OPINIONS AND PAYING ARCHITECTS TO DO SO. BUT THAT IS NOT ETHICAL.

    I HAVE NEVER HEARD FROM ARCHITECTS THAT MESS AROUND WITH MY DESIGNS. BUT I HAVE MADE IT A PRACTICE TO HONOR THE ORIGINAL ARCHITECT.

    GLEN