FRANK GEHRY: ART + ARCHITECTURE at the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West) until May 7. $8, stu/srs $5, Wednesday 6-9 pm free. 416-979-6660. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Oh, what a sordid tale the AGO's big renovation has turned out to be. Brilliant home-grown architect Frank Gehry 's various plans could never have pleased everyone. The only question was who they would make happy.
The new show of Gehry's architecture, in the midst of the renovation, consists of his madly scribbled original designs, a series of video projections in which he muses about building, and architectural models of his thrilling greatest hits. Despite a slight didactic subtext of "Hey, you, too, can appreciate the genius we're paying for," the show is interesting.
Experience the surreal beauty of the horse-head-shaped meeting room in Berlin's DZ Bank, the exfoliating titanium pavilion at Chicago's Millennium Park and the intoxicatingly bent boxes at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Last and seemingly least (next to the gift shop) sits a mini-replica of the new AGO. Rising above Grange Park will be a shiny titanium cube tapped by spiralling staircases. In front, on Dundas, the building will be enclosed in curvaceous glass on a Douglas fir frame. It looks nice and aesthetically safe, but not very exciting.
All prominent designs need friendly monikers. This will obviously be known as Toronto's big sneeze guard, protecting the international tossed salad that is the AGO collection.
Before the sneeze guard, Gehry had an infinitely more adventurous design. A picture of the model for those plans, found only in the show's catalogue, reveals an exciting, colourful clutter of towers more like MIT's new digs. Beyond the expense, the plans were allegedly abandoned to appease local community complaints about the height. What a shame.
I can only assume the reason the gallery's not showing the model of the earlier design is so we won't know what we're missing.