Delves Broughton writes how Gehry sought the company of artists and architects, but found himself marginalised by both groups. The architects tried to belittle him by calling him ‘artist’, while the artists called him a ‘plumber’. But Gehry drew his energy from straddling these worlds.
“There was a powerful, powerful energy I was getting from this [art] scene that I wasn’t getting from the architecture world. What attracted me to them is that they worked intuitively. They would do what they wanted and take the consequences. Their work was more direct and in such contrast to what I was doing in architecture, which was so rigid. You have to deal with safety issues — fireproofing, sprinklers, handrails for stairways, things like that. You go through training that teaches you to do things in a very careful way, following codes and budgets. But those constraints didn’t speak to aesthetics.” (Frank Gehry)
Only in 1997, when the Bilbao Guggenheim opened to worldwide acclaim, Gehry’s blend of energy and competence, and his ability to bring a unique architectural vision to reality were finally recognized. He was sixty-nine.
More Gehry in Sketches of Frank Gehry, a 2006 documentary by Sydney Pollack (his final film before his death in 2008) about Gehry’s life and work.