菲利普•约翰逊(1906 - 2005)

“Once I discovered architecture as a need of my nature, then that enthusiasm knew no bounds…art is the only thing I’ve been alive for. There’s no such thing as leisure time. If your work is architecture, you work all the time. You wake up in the middle of the night. ‘I’ve got a wonderful idea!'” Philip Cortelyou Johnson, American architect.

Philip Johnson portrait in black and white.
Philip Johnson


About his life

Philip Johnson,bornPhilip Cortelyou Johnson July 8, 1906, in Cleveland. Growing up in his home state ofOhio, Johnson’d attend the Hackley School at Tarryton, before becoming an undergraduate atHarvard University; during this period, his studies focused onGreek literature,philology,historyandphilosophy, especially around thePre-Socraticperiod. Completing his studies in 1927, he started planning trips to Europe, developing an interest for historical Classical and Gothic monuments and buildings, being introduced, at the same time, toModernismthrough architectural historianHenry-Russel Hitchcock.

Johnson with plans for his Boston Public Library addition.
Johnson with plans for his Boston Public Library addition

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/de4b1da4-fcee-413b-b92a-cc1ff8f754bfbyBoston City Archives

In1928, his meeting with legendary architectLudwig Mies van der Rohewould not only cement their lifelong friendship (and rivalry), but marked the beginning of his steadily rising fame as well.

By1930, he joined the museum of modern arts, arraging for visits of European architects and designers (such asGropiusandLe Corbusier); this would last until1936, when, due to theGreat Depression, he left to venture into journalism and politics; this unfortunately led to his sympathy, and later full support, of the Nazi party and its zealotries; while some critics dismiss such political leanings as little more than a passing impulse (pointing to the help he offered to German architects fleeing their country, such as the aforementionedGropiusandVan der Rohe), it is undisputable that his fascist mindset had lasting consequences, both for himself and his businesses (it wasen’t until 2016 that a work by a Black architect or designer could be added to the Museum’s collections); despite abjuring these ideals in the latter decades of his life, many still were skeptical, believing him to still hold some of his worst convictions – making him an highly controversial figure to this day.

In1946, after completing his military service, Johnson returned to the Museum of Modern Art, as curator and writer; it’s at this time that he began working on hisGlass House, what would become his own private residence by1949,inaugurating hisModernperiod, that would last all the way to the early1980s, almost three decades; during this ouevre, his most recognizable projects would be theSeagram Building,a 39-stores skyscraper built in1956withVan der Rohe,Lincoln center,theBoston Public Library, and theIDS center, the latter ones realized during his collaboration withJohn Burgee, beginning in the 1960s.

The Seagram, built in tandem by Van der Rohe and Johnson; 1956.
The Seagram, built in tandem by Van der Rohe and Johnson; 1956

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/3cba2ce7-f29b-45af-a6c7-078506304646byTom Ravenscroft

During the80s, Johnson’s style underwent brisk turns and changes, starting with the eccentric megastructure known asCrystal Cathedral, aNeo-Gothicstyled, skyscraper sized glass and metal church soaring through the heavens, placing him squarely in thePost-Modernmovements of the time, soon followed by his signatureAT&T building(later known as Sony building), and office complexLipstick building .Often mixing styles and experimenting, Johnson’s career, either solo or with his historic collaborators (John Bungee first, and Alan Ritchie later on), until the 2000s, when, after retiring in the Glass house with his partner and lover, art curatorDavid Whitney, until his death, in2005.

Ultimately, Johnson’s role as an architect and critic is best focused on the promotion of the International Style and, later, for his role in defining postmodernist architecture, becoming, for all his controversies, one of America’s leading figures in design and architecture, for over 50 years.

Philip Johnson -Glass House (Painting Gallery Warhol detail).
Philip Johnson –Glass House( Painting Gallery Warhol detail)

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/163562b6-1132-4320-adef-6651ef78160dbyMark B. Schlemmer

What areJohnson’s style main features ?

Throughout the1930s, Johnson was pivotal in bringing the characteristicallyminimalaspects of the Modern style to the public. As both a writer and curator, he championed the work of many modern architects includingLe Corbusier,Walter Gropius, andMies van der Rohe,displaying great interest in their aesthetic approach to structural elements . Their studies overtly addressed the role of the designer and builder, seeking to make the foundational elements of a building part of its aesthetic exterior.

Glass House, interior, New Canaan, Connecticut (1949).
Glass House,interior, New Canaan, Connecticut (1949).

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/6932fe5f-02b0-4dfd-b619-af5d4292f9f8byMark B. Schlemmer

Johnson’s reputation was cemented by the design of his own residence, known as theGlass House, atNew Canaan,Connecticut(1949), notable for its overlysimple rectilinearstructure and its use of largeglass panelsas walls, owed much to the precise,minimalist aestheticof Van der Rohe, but also alluding to the works of 18th- and 19th-century architects.

Glass House, at New Canaan, Connecticut (1949).
Glass House,at New Canaan, Connecticut (1949).

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/e079256b-9f40-44d3-a334-8932f0429b6fbyMark B. Schlemmer

In addition to the Glass House, Johnson’s New Canaan estate featured a number of other structures, including anart galleryand asculpture pavilion. He later donated the estate to theNational Trust for Historic Preservation, and in2007it was opened to the public.

Sculpture pavilion in Glass House.
Sculpture pavilion in Glass House, Johnson.

Images source:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/5ce0881e-b24d-47f1-a33c-fe22a2a9b494byMark B. Schlemmer

This balance between Van der Rohe influences and historical allusions shifted in the 1950s. Beginning with theTemple Kneses Tifereth Israelin Port Chester, New York (1956), Johnson made fuller use of curvilinear (particularly arches) forms and historical quotation, a pattern continued in the art gallery atDumbarton Oaksin Washington, D.C. (1963), and theIDS Center, a multibuilding group in Minneapolis (1973).

IDS Center, Minneapolis.
IDS Center, Minneapolis (1973).

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/603581eb-0acc-42c8-a74b-d280e141490cbySharon Mollerus

Other important works

  • The Seagram Building, New York City, United States
  • Pennzoil Place, Houston, Texas. Completed in 1975
  • 550 Madison Avenue(formerly known as theSony Tower, and before that the AT&T Building, New York City).
  • Bobst library, New York City, United States
Pennzoil Place, Houston, Texas.
Pennzoil Place, Houston, Texas. Completed in 1975

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/7bcd7085-444b-4dcd-a490-43aa24e43887byKen Lund

550 Madison Avenue , New York City (formerly known as the Sony Tower, and before that the AT&T Building, New York City).
550 Madison Avenue (formerly known asthe Sony Tower, and before that the AT&T Building, New York City).

图像苏rce:https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/8e49fc14-6d34-4dfc-8709-fe46bacde5acbyReading Tom

Info sources:



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