American Masters: Season 20, Episode 7

Sketches of Frank Gehry (27 Sep. 2006)

TV Episode  |  PG-13  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,336 users   Metascore: 71/100
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A look at the life and work of the renown architect.


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Title: Sketches of Frank Gehry (27 Sep 2006)

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Episode credited cast:
Charles Arnoldi ...
Himself (as Chuck Arnoldi)
Rolf Fehlbaum ...
Hal Foster ...
Himself (archive footage)
Mildred Friedman ...
Frank O. Gehry ...
Charles Jencks ...
Philip Johnson ...
Thomas Krens ...
Peter Lewis ...
Herbert Muschamp ...


A look at the life and career of architect Frank Gehry (1929 - ), a visit to four buildings (the Vitra Museum in Germany, Maggie's Centre, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the Disney Concert Hall in L.A.), and an inquiry into creativity in conversations between Ghery and Sidney Pollack, whom Gehry asked to make this picture. Early experiences (playing with blocks with his grandmother, drawing with his father, hearing Alvar Aalto lecture), discovering computer-assisted design, finding a psychoanalyst, experimenting on his own home, and bringing an artist and sculptor's sensibility to architecture are part of Gehry's story. Friends, artists, critics, and curators comment. Written by <>

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »





Release Date:

27 September 2006 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$17,239 (USA) (12 May 2006)


$438,256 (USA) (1 September 2006)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The last film (documentary) directed by Sydney Pollack. See more »


References Apocalypse Now (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

My architect
25 May 2006 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

There is an awkward moment in Sydney Pollack's documentary "Sketches of Frank Gehry", when the subject of the film confesses about his name change from Goldberg to Gehry. Nothing is made out of it, but perhaps that defines a key to understand the man whose monumental work is examined by his distinguished friend, the director, Sydney Pollack. This is an intimate portrait of the man whose grandiose vision separates him from other luminaries of that field.

Frank Gehry is shown working in different projects. It's curious how this man doesn't even know how to use the computer in order to create his intricate designs. It helps he is now a celebrity and wealthy, as he can afford assistants that will execute his thoughts in that new medium he has yet to master.

The documentary gives us an idea of the evolution of Mr. Gehry as an innovator and the way he arrived at his present position. It surprising to realize that one of the greatest influences for him was Alvar Aalto, the great architect from Finland. One can see how he can relate to this man, more so than to others that were at the top of his profession during his formative years.

We get to hear from a lot of people and his peers. Milton Wexler, his personal analysts confesses how he has worked with Gehry for so many years. Philip Johnson also gives his assessment about the man. Ed Ruscha, the artist, talks about other aspects of Mr. Gehry's life and he even gives credit to the architect's wife, Berta in being a great influence in his life, yet, no one sees her; only a picture is shown of her.

On the other hand, Julian Schnabel, a pretentious artist himself, and dilettante movie director, is interviewed wearing a white bath robe as he pompously describes Gehry to the camera. We feel he is putting us on all the time, that he couldn't care less. He is an admirer of the spaces Gehry creates because they go well together with his art, and the way it's shown. Michael Ovitz, another shady figure, shows up to tell us how he compares Gehry's approach as a form of cubism. Well, who knew the movie mogul was an expert in this matter too! One of the most obvious omissions in the film is not interviewing Dennis Hopper in the home that Gehry designed for him in Venice, California.

Some of the best examples of Gehry's creations appear in the film. The magnificent Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain is presented in all its splendor. The same goes for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The other works are also shown, although, maybe because of the length of the documentary didn't allow to show more.

At the end, when all is said and done, we see a man that like all artists is never satisfied by his own work.

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