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Frank Gehry, Standing Glass Fish (1986)


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
"In Toronto, when I was very young, my grandmother and I used to go to Kensington, a Jewish market, on Thursday morning. She would buy a carp for gefilte fish. She'd put it in the bathtub, fill the bathtub with water, and this big black carp--two or three feet long--would swim around in the bathtub and I would play with it. I would stand up there and watch it turn and twist . . . and then she'd kill it and make gefilte fish and that was always sad and awful and ugly."--Frank Gehry

American artist-architect Frank Gehry's Standing Glass Fish is installed in the Cowles Conservatory, suspended on invisible supports over a rectangular lily pond and surrounded by palm trees. Known for his innovative architectural projects that often include such ordinary materials as raw plywood and chain-link fencing, Gehry also experiments with nontraditional materials for his sculptural works. The body of the 22-foot Standing Glass Fish is constructed of glass and silicone, supported by a wooden armature with steel rods. Before finalizing his design for the sculpture, Gehry made a number of plexiglass models to study the flip of the fish's tail, the characteristics of its eyes, and the shape of the scales. The fish is a personal symbol for Gehry--a fond remembrance of the live carp his grandmother would buy at the market and leave swimming in the bathtub each week before she prepared gefilte fish for the family meal. He likes the patterns made by fish scales and the fluid movement of fish in water. Gehry includes fish in his drawings for buildings, makes fish lamps, and has even designed buildings shaped like fish.
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Type: Commentary, curriculum resource
Source: Text for Frank Gehry, Standing Glass Fish (1986), from the curriculum guide The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: A Garden for All Seasons, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1998.
Rights: Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009