Saturday, June 6, 2009

Philip Johnson's Retreat

Today I visited the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan. It is really more of an "experience" than a house. The house is actually one small part of the 47-acre retreat that Johnson and his partner David Whitney built into an oasis. The surroundings -- the trees, pathways, meadows, use of shadow, sky and horizon - all play a role in the experience.

The entrance is protected by a gate that features an aluminum bar that is the mast of a ship. The pathways are specifically designed to lead you down to the house and to enter the house at an angle. The grass surrounding the house itself is carefully mowed to be a "carpet."

Opposite the glass house itself is the brick house, the guest house. It has no windows that face the glass house because Philip Johnson didn't want to see his guests -- and he didn't want then to see him. The house overlooks meadow and pond with a vista of trees carefully planted. The property was farmland so when Johnson and Whitney planted the trees, they would sit a top the landing where the house stands and through a bullhorn, instruct those planting the trees exactly where to plant them.

An art gallery is built into the side of a hill and is constructed in a clover leaf pattern. Inside the clover leaf's form three circular spaces that allow the gallery to turn the walls and display different art work from the collection (Jasper Johns, Julian Schnable, Frank Stella - you get the idea). Then there is a sculpture gallery that is also wonderfully built to allow light to play of shadow and sun.

I ordered tickets 6-months ago. They only go on sale once a year. I got tickets for summer and fall - hopefully when we return in October, we can see it a new.

You can visit the site here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let's see if this works. Loved your writing and the pictures are great! Good job, love you and we once again forgot to write that letter, Mom. p.s. I found the perfect white shoes at Ente's and best of all they were 1/2 price.

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