May 3, 2011
8 Spruce Street, a 76 story residential apartment building in New York City designed by Frank Gerhy has officially opened. The Wall Street Journal recently sat down with Gerhy to talk about that project and his thoughts on life. These are excerpts from the interview which was published April 2, 2011. Read the entire article HERE.
The best advice I’ve received is to be yourself. The best artists do that. People look over their shoulders too much. I tell kids that come to Yale, where I’ve taught every other year since 1978, to find your own way because then you’re the only expert. Some people might not like what you do, but still, you’re the only expert.
One of my greatest influences is the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The first time I saw his sculpture of Saint Teresa [in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome] was in 1960. You can only see it during Mass and in order to see the little chapel it’s in, you have to get to the front pew and lean forward. I don’t know how to do the crossing myself very well. The young priest was howling with laughter when he saw me in the front row, trying to kneel when everyone else kneels, but doing it wrong.
I’ve always been fascinated with folds. All artists through the ages have spent time on the fold. Michelangelo had stacks of drawings of fabric. At 8 Spruce, we’re using Bernini’s folds to inspire the façade. I look for ways to express feeling in a building without using historic decoration.
If I think of my greatest achievement, it’s like a love affair: You’re always excited about the building you’re working on. So right now it’s 8 Spruce St., but next month it will be something else.
The next building I’m working on is the Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi. They’re pouring the foundations right now.
At any given moment, I’m working on 20 projects, in stages ranging from conceptual to construction.
I can’t retire. I’m 82. It’s too young.
—Edited from an interview by Jackie Cooperman