Sunday, May 6, 2012

Out Spotlight

Today’s Out Spotlight was an influential American architect as well as in art, creating masterpieces that that changed the skylines of cities all over the world. With his thick, round-framed glasses, he was the most recognizable figure in American architecture for decades. Today’s Out Spotlight is Philip Johnson.

Philip Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, July 8, 1906, and was destined for a life that would leave an indelible mark on New York, as descendant of Huguenot Jacques Cortelyou, who designed the town plan of New Amsterdam (later renamed New York).

He attended the Hackley School, in Tarrytown, New York, and then studied at Harvard University as an undergraduate, where he focused on history and philosophy, particularly the work of the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Johnson interrupted his education with several extended trips to Europe. These trips became the pivotal moment of his education; he visited Chartres, the Parthenon, and many other ancient monuments, becoming increasingly fascinated with architecture.

During the Great Depression, Johnson pursued a career in journalism abroad. He subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 1928 Johnson met with architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was at the time designing the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. The meeting was a revelation for Johnson and formed the basis for a lifelong relationship of both collaboration and competition. After his military service, Johnson enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he realized his passion for architecture.

Johnson returned from Germany as a proselytizer for the new architecture. Touring Europe more comprehensively with his friends Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and Henry-Russell Hitchcock to examine firsthand recent trends in architecture, the three assembled their discoveries as the landmark show "The International Style: Architecture Since 1922" at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1932. The show was profoundly influential and is seen as the introduction of modern architecture to the American public. It introduced such pivotal architects as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe. The exhibition was also notable for a controversy: architect Frank Lloyd Wright withdrew his entries in pique that he was not more prominently featured.

Proportion, minimalism and geometry were elements Philip Johnson combined to create his masterpieces, which include iconic New York buildings. His work is characterized by innovation. In a career spanning almost 60 years, he developed a reputation for flexibility and foresight.

In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later (1978), as a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the first Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 1979.

The Glass House (1949), which he designed for himself, is a modest 56-foot-by-32-foot rectangle with exterior walls made almost entirely of glass. The building, in New Canaan, Connecticut, incorporates the bucolic setting as an integral part of the home's ambiance.

The concept of a Glass House set in a landscape with views as its real “walls” had been developed by many authors in the German Glasarchitektur drawings of the 1920s, and already sketched in initial form by Johnson's mentor Mies. The building is an essay in minimal structure, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection.

The house sits at the edge of a crest on Johnson’s estate overlooking a pond. The building's sides are glass and charcoal-painted steel; the floor, of brick, is not flush with the ground but sits 10 inches above. The interior is an open space divided by low walnut cabinets; a brick cylinder contains the bathroom and is the only object to reach floor to ceiling.

Johnson continued to build structures on his estate as architectural essays. Offset obliquely fifty feet from the Glass House is a guest house, echoing the proportions of the Glass House and completely enclosed in brick (except for three large circular windows at the rear, set in wooden frames, 5 feet in diameter, which reveal the interior of the building that was originally designed with a window in each of three rooms, two guest bedrooms at each end and a study in the middle). It now contains a bathroom, library, and single bedroom with a vaulted ceiling and shag carpet. It was built at the same time as the Glass House and can be seen as its formal counterpart. Johnson stated that he deliberately designed it to be less than perfectly comfortable, as "guests are like fish, they should only last three days at most".

Later, he added a painting gallery with an innovative viewing mechanism of rotating walls to hold paintings, followed by a sky-lit sculpture gallery. The last structures Johnson built on the estate were a library and a reception building, the latter, red and black in color and of curving walls. Johnson viewed the ensemble of one-room buildings as a total work of art, claiming that it was his best and only "landscape project."

The Philip Johnson Glass House is a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and now open to the public for tours.

After completing several houses in the idiom of Mies and Breuer, Johnson joined Mies van der Rohe as the New York associate architect for the 39-story Seagram Building in 1956. Johnson was pivotal in steering the commission towards Mies, working with Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of the CEO of Seagram. This collaboration of architects and client resulted in the bronze-and-glass tower on Park Avenue.

Completing the Seagram Building with Mies also decisively marked a shift in Johnson's career. After this accomplishment, his practice grew as projects came in from the public realm, including coordinating the master plan of Lincoln Center and designing that complex's New York State Theater. Meanwhile, Johnson began to grow bored with the orthodoxies of the International Style he had championed.

In the early Sixties he went on to produce some of his seminal works including the New York State Pavilion for the World's Fair and MoMA's east wing and sculpture garden.

From 1967 to 1991 Johnson collaborated with John Burgee. This was by far Johnson's most productive period — certainly by the measure of scale — he became known at this time as builder of iconic office towers, including Minneapolis's IDS Tower. The building's distinctive stepbacks (called "zogs" by Johnson) created an appearance that has since become one of Minneapolis's trademarks and the crown jewel of its skyline.

Although startling when they were first constructed, the glass and steel tower had by the 1960s become commonplace the world over. Johnson eventually rejected much of the metallic appearance of earlier International Style buildings, and began designing spectacular, crystalline structures uniformly sheathed in glass. Many of these became instant icons, such as PPG Place in Pittsburgh and in 1980, the Crystal Cathedral was completed for Rev. Robert H. Schuller's famed megachurch, which became a Southern California landmark.

The AT&T Building in Manhattan, now the Sony Building, was completed in 1984 and was immediately controversial, at the time, it was seen as provocation on a grand scale: crowning a Manhattan skyscraper with a shape echoing a historical wardrobe top, as of the Chippendale furniture design, defied every precept of the modernist aesthetic. The historical pattern had been effectively outlawed among architects for years. In retrospect other critics have seen the AT&T Building as the first Postmodernist statement, necessary in the context of modernism's aesthetic cul-de-sac. In 1987, Johnson was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Houston. The institution's Hines College of Architecture is also housed in one of Johnson's buildings.

Johnson architectural work can be seen as a balancing act between two dominant trends in post-war American art: the more "serious" movement of Minimalism, and the more populist movement of Pop Art. His best work has aspects of both movements. His personal art collection reflected this dichotomy, as well, as he introduced artists such as Mark Rothko to the Museum of Modern Art as well as Andy Warhol. Straddling between these two camps, his work was seen by purists of either side as always too contaminated or influenced by the other

As an art collector Johnson's eclectic eye supported avant-garde movements and young artists often before they became widely known. His collection of American art was strong in Abstract expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Neo-Dada, Color Field, Lyrical Abstraction, and Neo-Expressionism and he often donated important works from his collection to institutions like MoMA, and other important private museums and University collections like the Norton Simon Museum, the Sheldon Museum of Art and the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University among many others.

And it wasn’t only a Pop Art but rock as well as he is mentioned in David Bowie’s song "Thru These Architect's Eyes".

Johnson died in his sleep January 25, 2005 while at the Glass House retreat. He was survived by his life partner of 45 years, David Whitney, who died later that year at age 66.


Critical Thinking said...

Sorry confused. I was not addressing you, but the troll who has already been deleted. Your question is a good one. There are many possibilities of why there are so many oddities surrounding this pregnancy. Martial problems being one of many. Living in the closet for so many years is a strain on any family. So who knows what else is going on with this family.

the real m said...

Fascinating spotlight as usual. I look forward to this feature every Sunday. Not sure how you find
these every week, but great job.

Off topic but The Avengers is tearing up the box office. I am too old to see that in a theater but will have to see it on DVD.

problem? said...

I think it is the really out-there implication by some (regular posters and anon) that Maggie used a surrogate that just had heads scratching. That just makes no sense for so many reasons that have already been brought up in past comments by others.

So, what is going on?

It is possible there were marital problems. Find me a marriage with a young kid (especially with the pressures of fame) that doesn't have some problems. Sometimes, when marriages are strained at this point, but there is still a lot of love there, a couple has another kid. It can bring you close together again. That's what happened in my marriage, as a matter of fact. I can imagine that's what happened with Maggie and Peter.

So why are they pimping out baby photos?

Maybe they didn't. The paps might be stalking their house, and they did the 'right thing' by keeping Ramona out of it.

Or, maybe they called the paps to get it over with. Or, maybe they just wanted to promote themselves a little for an upcoming release.

In any case, I have been watching Maggie's pregnancy too and I have truthfully not seen any of the up-then-down, big-then-small baby bump photos that have been alluded to. The growth of her bump has seemed totally normal to me.

The only odd thing I recall is the persistence on here of mention of an article where a supposed "friend" was quoted in December (?) that Maggie was about six months along.

Maggie was probably due around May 1, which puts her conception date around August 1. How pregnant you are is calculated from the date of your last period so in Maggie's case, say that was July 15. Well then she would have been "six months pregnant" around January 15. Well, honestly, no one I know who is pregnant talks in months. That is old school. It's all about weeks. When I was pregnant and asked by older people how many "months along" I was, I had to stop and calculate, like count on my fingers, because it was all in weeks in my head. MOST people wait until they are 13-14 weeks to go public with a pregnancy, which is about the time most women begin to show (though some show later, some earlier. Shorter women usually show a little earlier than taller women.) Some people wait longer if they've had a prior miscarriage. So on this timeline, Maggie could have gone public as early as Nov 1.

She waited a month. The US Weekly article was Nov 28, and stated she was "about 4 months along."

Which is exactly right.

So, what's the problem, again?

too good for you said...

Don't worry. People here talk about a lot of things. Personal and professional Jake just hasn't been working for like nine months or so. Which means there isn't mucht to discuss about his career. Try Gyllenbabble, Wet, Dark and Wild and Gyllencrazy, if you want a pure fansite that never questions Hollywood or celebrities.

Those fansites are too good for you.I suggest you guys stay here to do your marriage or gay blah blah homework.Even though Jake haven't been working for years, they still won't waste time talking garbage.

too good for you said...

Does WDW onwer know her blog link with here??
This place doesn't deserve to be on the same page with WDW.WDW is one of the best Jake fansite I've ever seen.I just come here to see dog fighting for fun.

EOW said...

Poster for End of Watch

Carlotta said...

Great Out Spotlight! Love this blog since I found it.

LA Times said...

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden gave a nod to same-sex marriage Sunday by saying he is comfortable with the idea of "men marrying men" and "women marrying women" having the same rights as heterosexual couples.

In an interview on "Meet the Press," Biden declined to rule out the possibility that, in a second term, President Obama might move from his position of supporting civil unions to backing same-sex marriage.

Biden prefaced his comments with the caveat that the president sets administration policy, and then said: "I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties."