Take an Online Course on Design & Architecture with Frank Gehry

FYI: If you sign up for a Mas­ter­Class course by click­ing on the affil­i­ate links in this post, Open Cul­ture will receive a small fee that helps sup­port our oper­a­tion.

“Most of our cities are built with just face­less glass, only for economies and not for human­i­ties.” We’ve all heard many vari­a­tions on that com­plaint from many dif­fer­ent peo­ple, but sel­dom with the author­i­ty car­ried by the man mak­ing it this time: Frank Gehry, author of some of the most talked-about build­ings of the past thir­ty years. You may love or hate his work, the body of which includes such strik­ing, for­mal­ly and mate­ri­al­ly uncon­ven­tion­al build­ings as Bil­bao’s Guggen­heim Muse­um, Los Ange­les’ Walt Dis­ney Con­cert Hall, and Seat­tle’s Muse­um of Pop Cul­ture, but you can’t remain indif­fer­ent to it, and that alone tells us how deeply Gehry under­stands the pow­er of his craft.

And so when Gehry talks archi­tec­ture, we should lis­ten. Mas­ter­class, the online edu­ca­tion start­up that has pro­duced cours­es in var­i­ous dis­ci­plines with such high-pro­file prac­ti­tion­er-teach­ers as David Mamet, Her­bie Han­cock, Jane Goodall, Steve Mar­tin, and Wern­er Her­zog, has read­ied a rich oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so in the fall: “Frank Gehry Teach­es Design and Archi­tec­ture,” whose trail­er you can view above. The $90 course promis­es a look into the cre­ative process, as well as into the “nev­er-before-seen mod­el archive,” of this biggest of all “star­chi­tects” whose “vision for what archi­tec­ture could accom­plish” has reshaped not just our sky­lines but “the imag­i­na­tions of artists and design­ers around the world.”

As with any edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence, the more thor­ough­ly you pre­pare in advance, the more you’ll get out of it, and so, to that end, we sug­gest watch­ing Syd­ney Pol­lack­’s doc­u­men­tary Sketch­es of Frank Gehry, recent­ly made avail­able online by the Louis Vuit­ton Foun­da­tion. “Pol­lack is not usu­al­ly a doc­u­men­tar­i­an, and Gehry has nev­er been doc­u­ment­ed; they were friends, and Gehry sug­gest­ed Pol­lack might want to ‘do some­thing,’ ” wrote Roger Ebert in his review. “Because Pol­lack has his own clout and is not mere­ly a sup­pli­cant at Gehry’s altar, he asks pro­fes­sion­al ques­tions as his equal, sym­pa­thizes about big projects that seem to go wrong and offers insights.”

Pol­lack also “has access to the archi­tec­t’s famous clients, like Michael Eis­ner,” com­mis­sion­er of the Dis­ney Con­cert hall, “and Den­nis Hop­per, who lives in a Gehry home in San­ta Mon­i­ca” — just as Gehry him­self does, in the house whose rad­i­cal, qua­si-indus­tri­al mod­i­fi­ca­tion did much to make his name. Though he also brings in a few of the archi­tec­t’s many crit­ics to pro­vide bal­ance, “Pol­lack­’s opin­ion is clear: Gehry is a genius.” You may think so too, which would be a good a rea­son as any to take his Mas­ter­class. Even if you think the oppo­site, the phys­i­cal and cul­tur­al impact of Gehry’s work, as well as his endur­ing rel­e­vance and indus­tri­ous­ness — he con­tin­ues to design today, in his late eight­ies, espe­cial­ly for his long-ago adopt­ed home­town of Los Ange­les — has some­thing to teach us all.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Gehry’s Vision for Archi­tec­ture

On the Impor­tance of the Cre­ative Brief: Frank Gehry, Maira Kalman & Oth­ers Explain its Essen­tial Role

The ABC of Archi­tects: An Ani­mat­ed Flip­book of Famous Archi­tects and Their Best-Known Build­ings

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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