On the Good Ship Lollipop – Frank O. Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton

Frank O. Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris as seen by three famous art historians – Ackerman, Lavin, and Bredekamp – and with a foreword by the architect

“Professor Lavin’s reference to the Good Ship Lollipop brings to mind Shirley Temple sharing a vision with contemporaries of dream on a candied vessel to a beautiful world of joy and love that was given to us, probably cynically, by Hollywood, but it is nevertheless comforting to us young ones coming into the complicated and tough world of economics, politics, Roosevelt, the Hitler environment. On the ship we travel to beauty and love, a world of Hollywood fantasy, Busby Berkely kind of extravaganza, Fred Astaire dancing, dream images, Picasso, Russian constructivism, airplanes, ships, cars, all moving. Touching humanity seemed a constant positive. (…) If only the ship I created in the park in the Bois de Boulogne could reach that measure. Maybe.” Frank O. Gehry in the foreword

Frank O. Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton rises from the Bois de Boulogne as a new landmark in the Parisian skyline. Gehry’s dynamic architecture is both glittering and multifaceted: is it a sailing vessel, an iceberg, or a sea monster? Its wealth of references fascinates, while at the same time escaping any clear-cut definition. Three outstanding representatives of different generations of art history, James S. Ackerman (†), Irving Lavin, and Horst Bredekamp, paid a visit to the Fondation Louis Vuitton. In Birkhäuser’s new book, “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” they explore the building in three richly illustrated essays that try to fathom the floating architecture of the “magician” Gehry in the context of both art and architectural history.

While James S. Ackerman (1919-2016) situates Gehry’s drawings and the museum itself in the historical context of art and architecture, Irving Lavin (*1927) addresses Gehry’s own development as an architect: his prominent position as a postmodernist and his early preoccupation with the dynamic, constantly changing form of fish and sailing boats as a source of inspiration in the design process. The significance of the sail as an image in art and architectural history from the early middle ages to the present day is the topic of the essay by Horst Bredekamp (*1947), who also draws on a wealth of influences – including predecessors and contemporaries such as Erich Mendelsohn, Hans Scharoun, Robert Venturi, and Herzog & de Meuron.

A concluding photo essay with large-format aerial shots, photographs, interiors, designs, and model photos of the Fondation Louis Vuitton takes readers on a temporal and spatial stroll through the building over some 50 pages.