Sunday, January 29, 2012

Art Galleries as Springboards to a Distinguished Architectural Career: R. M. Schindler, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Frederick Fisher and Peter Zellner Case Studies

Christopher Hawthorne's article in  the January 29, 2012 issue of the Los Angeles Times, "Building on myriad abstractions," on Peter Zellner's design for the Matthew Marks Gallery (see below) immediately brought to mind the role designing art galleries and studios played in the evolution of the careers of R. M. Schindler, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Frederick Fisher and others.

Matthew Marks Gallery, West Hollywood, Peter Zellner, 2011. Joshua White photograph via L.A. Times.

Zellner is a Faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. At SCI-Arc he coordinates the Future Initiatives urban design program with David Bergman. Zellner holds a Master in Architecture from Harvard University (1999). At the GSD he was a participant in the Harvard Project on the City led by Rem Koolhaas. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from with First Class Honors from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (1993) in Australia, where he also taught between 1994-1997. 

Tokyo Fashion Museum competition entry, 2011, Peter Zellner.

A quick visit to Zellner's website reveals that, like Schindler, Gehry, Mayne and Fisher before him, the lion's share of his early career work is art centered. Following directly in Gehry's and his two disciples, Mayne's and Fisher's Venice-centric artistic commission footsteps, Zellner's conceptual and built work to date runs the gamut of the art world from direct collaboration with artist Piero Golia for a Luminous Sphere atop the Standard Hotel West Hollywood, to other galleries in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City and New York, and an exciting competition entry for the Tokyo Fashion Museum. (See above).

Braxton Gallery, Vine St., Hollywood, 1929, R. M. Schindler. 

Braxton-Shore Residence, Venice, 1928. (Project). R. M. Schindler.

Early avant-garde architect R. M. Schindler (see above), and 1960s and 70s modernists Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne and Fred Fisher began their illustrious careers in much the same fashion thus budding architects should take note. It pays to befriend and hang out with artists and their gallerists and gather inspiration from their work. The progression of designing artist studios, galleries for their dealers, and upscale residences for their patrons can lead to the ultimate jewels in the crown of an architect's oeuvre, i. e., the museums. (See my work in progress  The Schindlers and the Westons: An Avant-Garde Friendship and Richard Neutra and the California Art Club: A Pathway to the von Sternberg and Murphy Commissions and Fred Fisher and the L.A. School for more on how the early friendships with artists can serve as a springboard for important commissions and define an architectural career.) 

Danziger Studio, 7001 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, 1968, Frank Gehry. SCC/AIA Review, December 1968, front cover. Marvin Rand photograph. (From my collection).

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 1997, Frank Gehry. Art in America, 1997. Front cover. (From my collection).

Real Estate as Arts: New Architecture in Venice California by Joseph Giovannini, The Sewell Archives, 1984. 2-4-6-8 House by Morphosis on the cover. (from my collection)

Rendering, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, Thom Mayne.

L. A. Louver Gallery, Venice, Frederick Fisher. Tim Street-Porter photograph. From the cover of Frederick Fisher, Architect, Rizzoli, 1995. (From my collection).

Annenberg Center and Gardens at the Retreat at Sunnylands, Rancho Mirage, 2011, Frederick Fisher & Partners

I am working on a book proposal idea on the collaborations between architects and artists and welcome feedback on other examples of distinguished architectural careers evolving along these subject lines.