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On the occasion of a ten-year survey of his paintings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1968, artist Billy Al Bengston enlisted the help of architect Frank Gehry to design the exhibition’s scenography and create an architectural armature upon which the show could hang[…] […]The following conversation took place at the Santa Monica office of Gehry Partners in the summer of 2012. Reflecting back on a relationship that has spanned nearly five decades, it provides an opportunity to consider early collaborations between artists and architects, the genealogy of artistic trends that sought to expose the limitations of painting and the mediating principles of museum display, and the ways in which Gehry’s and Bengston’s practices have been historicized and understood as part of an inherently formalist brand of art in Los Angeles…
ARAM MOSHAYEDI: Let’s talk about your collaboration at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1968. Although the exhibition was billed as a ten-year survey of Billy’s paintings, it’s clear that Frank’s exhibition design was dominant and central to the execution of the show. How did the idea for this collaboration come about?
FRANK GEHRY: To start, there was no budget. We had a museum director, Ken Donahue, who was a nice, bumbly guy but a dinosaur in terms of the art stuff that was going on. His curator was none other than Maurice Tuchman. I think probably Billy proposed me to them.