It is impossible to miss the curving and sinuous structure located in Paris’s 16th arrondissement, which has the bearing of a ship built of glass. This building is the Fondation Louis Vuitton; the museum and cultural centre designed by modern architecture’s greatest transformer of shapes, Frank Gehry—the Pritzker prize-winning designer whose buildings have earned him the status of a household name. In this heartfelt portrait of both the architect and the building he has created, filmmaker Emile Rafael lets the man and one of his most unique structures speak for themselves. Mounted by arching glass sails, the building—whose initial concept was that of a fish—is depicted from its smallest details to its shimmering external envelope. Seeming to sail on the lawns of the Bois de Boulogne, the Fondation is revealed as a building in motion, continually slipping and flowing like the creature on which it is based. It draws parallels with Gehry’s other great monuments to culture; the Bilbao Museum, the Guggenheim, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, where exciting shapes elevate the works of art they host and contain.
Speaking about his meditative portrait of the great shape-shifter of modern architecture, Rafael explains: “Gehry’s presence and energy was enough to fill the entire building. We spoke at great length about his love for art in all its guises, including how architecture is often overlooked as an art form in itself. With the film, my job was to try and capture what we had spoken about visually—to film the building with the same poetry and sense of movement and expression that Gehry had described and so aspired to in designing it.”