December 18, 2010 Mid-Century Modern

Giving the Gift of the Glass House

Johnson's library/study. Johnson called it an "event" on the landscape.

Are you looking for a gift for the modernist who has everything?  The folks at the Philip Johnson Glass House have an idea. Think private tour of the Glass House and then dinner at the Johnson and Mies-designed Four Seasons in New York. The modernist experience is $400 per person. In August, I visited the Glass House for the first time. I went on the Modern Friends tour that allowed photography and access to more of the buildings on the 47-acre property. The tour was close to private; there was only two other people there on a weekday in August. And no Four Seasons for me. I had a veggie burger at a local burger joint.

The Glass House

The classic shot of the Glass House.

I know Johnson’s work had major influence on introducing the International Style to residential modernism,  but I did not have a strong reaction to the Glass House itself (or at least when compared to the feeling I had when I visited the Stahl House and Miller House.) Maybe I had seen too many pictures of it. Or maybe that is the really just the point of the minimalist design, with the house disappearing against the greenery of the property. Seeing structures I was less familiar with such as Johnson’s Library/Study (1980) and the Painting Gallery (1965), which was inspired by the Treasury of Atreus, a tomb in Greece, was more interesting. These had some more personal touches that allows a visitor to get a better feel of who Johnson–who died in his beloved Glass House after a walk around the property–was. Here are just a few shots from the visit.

Glass House living room

The house is still decorated with the original furniture by Mies.

Glass House Painting Gallery

The entrance to the tomb-like Painting Gallery.

Glass House Painting Gallery

Johnson designed innovative revolving panels so he could display more art at one time.

Andy Warhol of Philip Johnson

A 1972 painting by Andy Warhol of Philip Johnson.

Inside Glass House library

Inside Johnson's one-room library/study. It has a fireplace but no bathroom. The 1984 Ghost House, an architectural folly made a chain-link, can be seen through the window.

Glass House library - books

Just some of Johnson's books on architecture.