Monday, January 7, 2013

Philip Johnson's Glass House - New Canaan, CT

I never thought about visiting Philip Johnson's Glass House until I saw Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. I deem the latter one of the most well known Modernist residences in the United States. This one instantly came to mind as the second most famous (at least in my limited history of 20th century architecture). I had the opportunity to visit it in October and here are some highlights.

I learned so much about Johnson and found that he was quite endearing. He regularly patted the exterior of one area of the visitor's center near the entrance door every morning as if it was his "baby."

Camden Hardy's concrete block visits the Glass House. More on this rock soon, I hereby promise.

View of Phillip Johnson's bed from the interior. Johnson always said he had the world's most expensive wallpaper.

View of his bed from the exterior (not for the night owls as that sun rises way too early). Fans of his architecture would walk right up to the house and knock on the front door. Some even saw him taking a nap here in the middle of the day. Talk about artist stalking...

The kitchen sink (because i had to).

The very small shower in an equally tiny bathroom.

The mildew encrusted beams in the Sculpture Building with a reflection of a George Segal artwork on the ceiling).

A fragment of a large Micheal Heizer sculpture with a white wall in the background (Sculpture Building).

The conical shaped swimming pool (what an unfortunate idea as it limits the space to swim yet oh so inviting despite the fall leaves and cool weather).

Andy Warhol's portrait of Phillip Johnson in the gallery. The walls rotate which facilitates the storage of other paintings. Apparently carpeted gallery walls is not only a Midwest phenomenon. Alas.

Johnson's rolodexes in the visitor's center in New Canaan opened to Robert Rauschenberg (numbers for his warehouse, NYC home and Captiva Island residence) and contacts at MOMA.

I walked away thinking that it would be impossible to collect things if one lived in this house as the storage space was so limited. One would have to construct another space and what do you know? Johnson did. It was surprising how many out buildings there were on the property (visitor's center, greenhouses, guest house, gallery and sculpture building). All but the guest house were available to visit. Also enlightening was how musty everything smelled and how visible mildew was in certain areas. Surely this cannot be a good thing.

Overall, I am so glad I was able to visit. Now I need to break out the 20th century art history book and see what other architecturally famous residences I need to see in the not so distant future (aside from Hearst's Castle).

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