Published: August 16, 2010
The Jewish Museum will present a selection of colorful, luminous lamps designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry in “Fish Forms: Lamps by Frank Gehry,” on view from August 29 through October 31. This exhibition also explores the significance of fish imagery in Gehry’s work. The lamps will be displayed in near darkness to create a gallery of glowing sculptural fish lit from within.
In 1983, Gehry was asked by the Formica Corporation to make something with a new laminate product called ColorCore. When Gehry broke a piece, the resulting shards reminded him of fish scales and gave him the idea for the fish lamps. Gehry made a prototype and then turned to New City Editions, a studio located next door to his, to fabricate the lamps, each of which he designed and approved. About 30 lamps were created between 1984 and 1986.
To construct the lamps, a wood model of the fish shape was made and a wire armature was stretched over it. The wire was cut to remove the wood and resoldered, and then shards of ColorCore were glued to the armature. Some lamps incorporated larger shards of ColorCore to form a base that concealed light bulbs. Around 1990, a version of the fish lamp was made using pieces of thin plate glass.
This exhibition brings together eight of Gehry’s fish lamps, including a glass lamp in the collection of the Jewish Museum. An accompanying slide show presents an overview of how the fish form has changed from iconic symbol to transformative object in Gehry’s ongoing architectural practice.
Fish forms have been an indelible and vibrant element in Gehry’s architecture since the 1980s. Fish embodied his desire to create motion in architecture and represented a perfection that he could never realize in his buildings.
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