The collection—known as The Frank Gehry Papers—contains material spanning over 30 years of the architect’s work and was acquired by the GRI through a combination of gifts and purchases. Thomas Gaehtgens, GRI director, touted the acquisition in a press release: “This extensive archive, covering the first three decades of his illustrious career, offers an in-depth look at the genesis of Gehry’s distinctive style and includes many of the projects for which he is internationally known.”
The archive spans work produced during a period from 1954 to 1988. With the acquisition, the GRI is increasing its already expansive array of modern and contemporary architecture collections. The Gehry archives will serve to “connect with threads” between GRI’s expansive modern and contemporary architecture collections, according to Gaehtgens.
The archive contains a combination of presentation and study models, project drawings, correspondence, photographs, slides, and sketches relating to 283 projects, roughly spanning the period between the Romm House and the competition entry for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This era encompasses work on some of the architect’s most groundbreaking buildings. The archive contains roughly 1,000 sketches, 120,000 working drawings, 100,000 slides, and hundreds of boxes of records. There are also 168 working models and 112 presentation models in the collection. Importantly, the collection also includes various digital collections, including files pertaining to early designs for the Vitra museum from 1989, the Disney Concert Hall, and the perhaps soon to be realized Grand Avenue project.
Certain works from the archive will be on view at the upcoming GRI exhibition Berlin/Los Angeles: A Space for Music that opens April 25.
Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architectural collections at the GRI added that Gehry’s work during this period serves as an important bridge between the high modernism and early postmodern eras, saying “Gehry was a powerful figure in this evolution. He contributed to the essential concepts which put Los Angeles and its particular architectural vision at the center of the global architectural discourse.”
In announcing the acquisition, Gehry stated, “I’m honored by the attention of the Getty Research Institute delving into the history of my work, my beginnings, and other things that I never thought anybody would be interested in” adding, “I’m very moved that this great institution, with its resources to search for the best examples of creativity in our world, has found me an interesting party. I will be forever grateful.”