Philip Johnson (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 (1906-2005)
Philip Johnson (1906-2005)

image source: https://the189.com/architecture/architecture-infulence-a-short-film-on-the-work-of-philip-johnson/


About his life

Philip Johnsonin full Philip Cortelyou Johnson (born July 8, 1906, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.—died January 25, 2005, New Canaan, Connecticut), American architect and critic known both for his promotion of the International Style and, later, for his role in defining postmodernist architecture.

Portrait of American architect Philip Johnson (1906 - 2005) works on blueprints at a table in his office, New York, New York, 1979.
Portrait of American architect Philip Johnson (1906 – 2005) works on blueprints at a table in his office, New York, New York, 1979.

For more than 50 years, Philip Johnson was one of the most influential figures in American design and architecture.

What are Johnson’s style main features ?

Throughout the 1930s, Johnson was pivotal in bringing the great minimalist style to the public. As both a writer and curator he championed the work of major modern architects including Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe. Johnson was interested in their aesthetic embrace of structural elements . Their minimalism overtly addressed the role of the designer and builder, seeking to make the foundational elements of a building part of its aesthetic exterior.

info source: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/philip-johnson-about-philip-johnson/635/

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

Johnson’s reputation was enlarged by the design of his own residence, known as the Glass House, at New Canaan, Connecticut (1949). The house, which is notable for its severely simple rectilinear structure and its use of large glass panels as walls, owed much to the precise, minimalist aesthetic of Mies, but also alluded to the work of 18th- and 19th-century architects.

info source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Philip-Johnson

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

image source: https://www.inexhibit.com/mymuseum/the-glass-house-philip-johnson-new-canaan-connecticut/

In addition to the Glass House, Johnson’s New Canaan estate featured a number of other structures, including an art gallery and a sculpture pavilion. He later donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and in 2007 it was opened to the public.

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

images source: https://www.inexhibit.com/mymuseum/the-glass-house-philip-johnson-new-canaan-connecticut/

This balance between Mies influence and historical allusion shifted in the 1950s. Beginning with the Temple Kneses Tifereth Israel in Port Chester, New York (1956), Johnson made fuller use of curvilinear (particularly arch) forms and historical quotation, a pattern continued in the art gallery at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. (1963), and the IDS Center, a multibuilding group in Minneapolis (1973).

info source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Philip-Johnson

Philip Johnson, Museum Pavilion for the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C
Philip Johnson, Museum Pavilion for the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C

image source: https://www.doaks.org/resources/philip-johnson

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

image source: http://ids-center.com/?page_id=279

Other important works

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

info source: http://www.achievement.org/achiever/philip-johnson/