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Frank Gehry wins Prince of Asturias award for the arts

85-year-old designer of Guggenheim Bilbao recognized for viewing architecture as an art

Anatxu Zabalbeascoa
Frank Gehry standing in front of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Frank Gehry standing in front of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.luis alberto garcía

Frank Gehry, the 85-year-old architect and designer who created the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, won the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts on Wednesday.

The jury of Spain’s most prestigious cross-disciplinary awards, which have been compared with the Nobel Prizes, said that Gehry’s buildings are characterized by “a virtuosity in the play of complex shapes, use of uncommon materials such as titanium, and technological innovation, which has had an impact on other arts.”

Gehry joins past winners that include filmmakers Michael Haneke and Woody Allen, musician Paco de Lucía and Bob Dylan, as well as fellow architects Rafael Moneo and Norman Foster.

Gehry has designed hats for Lady Gaga and jewels for Tiffany’s, not to mention reinventing the skyscraper

The decision to reward a man who has designed hats for Lady Gaga and jewels for Tiffany’s, not to mention reinventing the skyscraper, means accepting that architecture is what Gehry himself always claimed it it be: an art above everything else.

The man who has been described by Vanity Fair as “the most important architect of our time” has become a brand unto himself. A friend of singers and actors, he was a character in The Simpsons and has become a celebrity among the wider public – a rare occurrence.

A resident of Santa Monica (California), where he built his own home in 1978 using hardware store materials, Gehry celebrated his 82nd birthday in New York, on the 76th floor of the skyscraper he built at 8, Spruce Street.

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