In October 1997, the unforgettable swooping metal panels of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao made their debut, drawing the attention of art and architecture lovers around the world. Images of the building quickly circulated through the infant world wide web, turning the museum into an instant icon that permanently elevated and transformed the international perception of the city of Bilbao.
Cities all over the world saw the potential in creating their own “Bilbao Effect,” and soon, a slew of new eye-catching, sculptural buildings had be built. This phenomenon persisted through the 2000s, manifesting itself in works by Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and many others. But recently, notable figures both inside and outside architecture have began to distance themselves from the icon, notably in the design philosophies of OMA and alumni such as Jeanne Gang and Matthias Sauerbruch.
In a new opinion piece for the Guardian, photographer Stuart Franklin extends this sentiment not just to architecture, but to all images in general. Franklin explains the history of the “iconic image” and the reasons why it may no longer exist.
Read Franklin’s full piece, here.