Gehry has always experimented with sculpture and furniture in addition to his architectural pursuits, coaxing inventive forms out of unexpected materials, from the Easy Edges
(1969–73) and Experimental Edges
(1979–82)—chairs and tables carved from blocks of industrial corrugated cardboard—to the Knoll furniture series (1989–92), fashioned from bentwood. The Fish Lamps
evolved from a 1983 commission by the Formica Corporation to create objects from the then-new plastic laminate ColorCore. After accidentally shattering a piece of it while working, Gehry was inspired by the shards, which reminded him of fish scales. The first Fish Lamps
, which were shown in “Frank Gehry: Unique Lamps” in 1984 at Gagosian Los Angeles, employed wire armatures molded into fish shapes, onto which shards of ColorCore are individually glued, creating clear allusions to the morphic attributes of real fish.
Since the creation of the first lamp in 1984, Gehry’s Fish Lamps
have been exhibited in London, Paris, Hong Kong, and now Rome. The fish has become a recurrent motif in Gehry’s work, as much for its “good design” as for its iconographical and natural attributes. Its quicksilver appeal informs
the undulating, curvilinear forms of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1997); the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago (2004); and the Marqués de Riscal Vineyard Hotel in Elciego, Spain (2006), as well as the Fish Sculpture
at Vila Olímpica in Barcelona (1989–92) and Standing Glass Fish
for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (1986).
In 2012 Gehry decided to revisit his earlier ideas, and began working on an entirely new group of Fish Lamps
. The resulting works range in scale from life-size to outsize, and the use of ColorCore is bolder, incorporating larger and morejagged elements. The sculptures are each unique, and each made by hand.
The softly glowing Fish Lamps
are full of whimsy and vigor. Curling and flexing in attitudes of simulated motion, these artificial creatures emit a warm, incandescent light. This intimation of life, underscored by the almost organic textures of the nuanced surfaces, presents a spirited symbiosis of material, form, and function.
Via Francesco Crispi, 16
FINO AL 16 SETTEMBRE (orario: lunedì-venerdì 10,30 / 19)