The Next Page: Frank Gehry, Genius?

His wrinkled buildings are simply cash machines, says David Conrad

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Stacy Innerst, Post-Gazette

rank Gehry is a sham. His buildings are insanely popular but they're souless. They're examples of whimsy hitched to the wheel of corporate excess. They're goldplated kleenex boxes placed along the world's jet-set route like highbrow Disney rides. The victory in our age of whimsy over rigor. Beautiful forms that are structurally pointless, scribbled by an annointed genius. But he sure does get them built. Out of titanium, the gold standard of the every Web designer who ever lusted for the $5,000 mountain bike he rides once a week.

Gehry's buildings have increased museum attendance ten-fold, filling them with people now happy to have a solid excuse for hustling by the art they've been taught to like but never did. When I travel and look at Gehry's work -- and in Los Angeles, we get to live with his Walt Disney Concert Hall -- I think of Arnold Schwarzenegger's last few films, where watching the special effects portions was like watching money fall off the screen. That's what impresses us these days. ("Look America, how much we blew on this Terminator!" "Look honey, how much I'm gonna blow on this wine I know nothing about." "Look at our son playing in enough athletic gear to make a car payment.") I think of that "Saturday Night Live"sketch with Jon Lovitz playing Picasso. Whenever anyone asked him for anything -- a drawing, an autograph, the money for his dinner bill -- he'd just spit on a napkin and say, "This is worth millions, because I'm Picasso!"

Bring back the Bauhaus.


David Conrad, an actor in Los Angeles, lives in the Strip District ( dconrad02@comcast.net ).


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