Frank O. Gehry and Fish

A Symbolic Motif

This rare Fish Lamp by American architect Frank Gehry is among the most important designs of his oeuvre, and the fish is the most personal of Gehry’s motifs. As a child, Gehry’s grandmother purchased a carp every Thursday and kept it alive in the bathtub. Gehry would play with the carp until it was killed the following day for Sabbath supper.

This lamp was included in the exhibtion Fish Forms: Lamps by Frank Gehry, August - September 2010 at The Jewish Museum, New York

The fish is found throughout Gehry’s works from small residential and commercial projects to sculptures of monumental scale, such as the Standing Glass Fish in the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. Throughout his career, Gehry has transformed the carp of his childhood into new, triumphant forms such as the luminous Fish Lamp. This rare work is from approximately three dozen unique fish and snake lamps produced by New City Editions.

Standing Glass Fish for the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis 1986.

The GFT Fish, 1985-1986.

Fish, Barcelona, Spain, 1992.

Rebecca's Restaurant, Venice, California, 1982-85.

I kept drawing it [the fish] and it started to become for me like a symbol for a certain kind of perfection that I couldn't achieve with my buildings.

—Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry was born on February 28, 1929 in Toronto, Canada. His family moved to Los Angeles where Gehry would attend the University of Southern California earning his bachelor degree in architecture in 1954. In 1956 Gehry moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to study city planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he completed only two years of the program before returning to Los Angeles. Back in California, Gehry worked for Hideo Sasaki, Pereira & Luckman, Victor Gruen & Associates and André Remondet before starting his own firm, Frank Gehry and Associates in 1962.

Early projects in his career, such as his Easy Edges furniture line (1969-1973) comprised of chairs, stools and tables made of stacked corrugated cardboard, and his 1978 remodel of his Santa Monica residence using industrial items such as chain-link fencing, corrugated metal, wire-reinforced glass and plywood exhibit Gehry’s innovative use of materials and originality in form. By the 1980s Gehry was established in the field and in 1989 he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize for his experimental and extraordinary approach to design. Gehry rose to fame with important structures and projects such as the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (1997) and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles (2003). Today Gehry is well-known for his distinct, artistic style.

Auction Results Frank Gehry