I’ve been six hours in the Pompidou at the Frank Gehry and Marcel Duchamp shows, and I’ve hit the point where it’s hard to tell which is which. It seems there’s a lot the two have in common – not least their production levels. There’s something too of Duchamp’s ‘ready made’ in Gehry’s early work; the use of ‘poor’, generic materials like steel fencing as symbolic elements in his home, the massive binoculars appropriated as the entrance to the 1991 Chiat/ Day building or an aeroplane pinned delicately like a butterfly on the side of his 1984 California Aerospace Museum. Gehry’s 2007 turd of a proposal for Andorra’s National Art Museum is as visually shocking as Duchamp’s 1917 urinal ‘Fountain’ – which turned him into modern art’s enfant terrible and set the precedent for what the idea of ‘art’ might be – a role that some might say the 85 year old Gehry parallels in architecture today.
Analogies apart, there are also visual similarities. I’m doubly aware of this later, standing in front of Paris’ Fondation Louis Vuitton at the city’s Jardin d’Acclimatation, which, with its fractured carapace of huge glazed curves rising from the foot of a grand stepped water feature, bears an uncanny resemblance to Duchamp’s Futurist ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ (1913) – except here she’s fallen down and is lying at its foot. ….