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 1,332 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 Columbo (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

A jolly little Jewish man
11 August 2006 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

"No person who is not a great sculptor or painter can be an architect. If he is not a sculptor or painter, he can only be a builder." John Ruskin

There are times when I can't begin writing until I've tidied up or made phone calls, generally wasting time until it's so running out I must run to write. On a much grander scale, architect Frank Gehry describes similar blocks to his creative process; then he releases his demons and creates buildings such as Guggenheim Balboa, perhaps the most celebrated museum architecture of modern times.

The Sketches of Frank Gehry documentary is filled with the humanity of a jolly little Jewish man who became a premier architect, perhaps out performing Johnson and Pei. The documentary is directed by Sydney Pollack (Tootsie), who knows nothing of architecture and therefore is perfect for the job, according to Gehry. The doc's singular weakness is Pollack's regular intrusions, even having another camera recording him while he is recording Gehry.

I like most about this doc the moments when Gehry lets us into his creative process, for instance by constructing a new building model of flexibly-placed pieces of cardboard that he changes before our eyes with his reasons. When he shows how he took a Hieronymous Bosch painting and created a building out of its composition, I was a happy human listening to a god's creation.

Pollack's eye for the curving shapes and moments of balance as well as clash is unfailing; Gehry's post-modern cubism almost shimmers when you look at it with the sun. Indeed Gehry builds with light foremost in his mind.

Unlike My Architect(2003), which spends too much time as Nathaniel Khan tries to deal with his errant architect father Louis, Sketches is about only the lovable genius, whom we get to know better than Nathaniel does his father.

After all the sons and directors, however, what lasts are the buildings that spring from the mind of a nice little guy with a very big talent. Enjoy!

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