Frank Gehry has given a Spanish reporter the middle finger salute at a press conference after being asked if his own architecture was just about spectacle.
Gehry, whose landmark Louis Vuitton arts centre opened in Paris this month, is in Oviedo in northern Spain to collect the Prince of Asturias prize, which King Felipe of Spain is due to present today (Friday, 24 October).
However, a press conference held yesterday ahead of the ceremony got off to a very awkward start when Gehry – listening a translation of the journalist’s question on headphones – took immediate offence and gave no answer other than the raising of his middle finger (see video attached 2mins 30secs onwards).
There was then a prolonged period of stunned silence before a different reporter asked the 85-year-old Canadian whether cities would continue to demand ‘emblematic buildings’ such as his.
‘Let me tell you one thing,’ Gehry replied. ‘In this world we are living in, 98% of everything that is built and designed today is pure shit. There’s no sense of design, no respect for humanity or for anything else. They are damn buildings and that’s it.
‘Once in a while, however, a group of people do something special. Very few, but God, leave us alone. We are dedicated to our work. I don’t ask for work … I work with clients who respect the art of architecture. Therefore, please don’t ask questions as stupid as that one.’
Gehry went on to argue that his Guggenheim in Bilbao was an example of what a difference buildings can make to the regeneration of cities.
He later apologised for his behaviour, explaining that he had jet lag and had only just arrived at the hotel. The journalists ‘caught me at a bad moment’, he said