Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

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jay
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by jay »

SDR.... Johnson's history with Nazism and fascism is obviously concerning. This quite clearly is what the "woke" movement is protesting... Is your complaint with these actions simply due to the man being dead and unable defend himself? Or perhaps it's a broader view that 'any artwork itself is autonomous', meaning it doesn't matter who made it, the only thing that matters is the work itself....? (I'm very sympathetic to this view, personally.)

If, as you suggest, the "woke" movement is intent on proving something about themselves.... it's pretty clear that they're saying 'silence is complicity' and that history doesn't get a free pass from contemporary judgment.

https://www.archpaper.com/2018/11/mark- ... ass-house/

peterm
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by peterm »

Tim writes: “The good news: We are 6 pages into this thread. No one seems to like Philip Johnson.”

I absolutely love listening to him talk. He clearly had a remarkable, self deprecating sense of humor, a quick wit and a keen eye. And I think the Glass house is a masterpiece. (A reverential copy can often be as beautiful as the “real thing”.)

When he talked about Wright’s Johnson Wax building in the Burns documentary I was moved to tears.

SDR
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by SDR »

Indeed. And, as has been outlined earlier, the Glass House is in fact not a copy of anything, its several differences from the Farnsworth house being noted. It is the sort of object---like the cube or the sphere---that man or nature would have and should have produced, somewhere, at least once. It is elemental; in the way that the Pettit Memorial Chapel is an elemental expression of the Prairie style, the Glass House is an elemental statement of the Miesian aesthetic (noting that its detailing is similar to but not a copy of any of Mies's buildings).

As for "woke": To prove that we are not evil ourself, we should explicitly disassociate ourself from every single instance of evil that we can find in the world ? How does that work ? Maybe we do it continent by continent, or decade by decade, until the rot everywhere has been named and shamed ? Or do we go with the flow, letting others settle on one example or another, and sign on to that week's "Person to be Pilloried" in scattershot fashion ? Sounds like a lifetime's obsession, either way.

Sorry, but I just don't see it. The adage about people who live in glass houses (ahem) comes to mind . . .!

S

peterm
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by peterm »

As I wrote earlier, it’s a copy in the opposite or negative. Mies says elevate, Johnson places on the ground. Mies is white, Johnson black, etc.

Maybe I should have called it an homage.

SDR
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by SDR »

Rather than citing Farnsworth---perhaps because it's the only built example in America of something similar to Johnson's house---we could find another even closer analogy in Mies's work, and if not, settle for observing the obvious similarity in material and spirit ? An homage, as you say . . .

S

peterm
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by peterm »

Farnsworth is important to mention because Johnson saw Mies drawings, then quickly designed and built his negative, opposite response before Mies could finish his. And, of course, this did not sit well with Mies. In fact, he was furious.

An admirable quality about Johnson is that he never attempted to hide or deny his many “borrowed” ideas.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3060342/all ... lass-house

SDR
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by SDR »

Thanks for that reference. I'm usually suspicious of facts that are said to be "widely known"---but if Johnson said he was influenced by the Farnsworth, I'll gladly defer. I may have been guilty of substituting my own instinct for the actual history.

I only balk at "copy," as the differences between the two houses are not limited to color, foundation and contents. It would be quicker to count the similarities: exposed steel frame, three bays, large sheets of glass, flat roof. Farnsworth's steel verticals occur outside the plane of the wall; his glass box is framed in lighter steel and extends beyond the major support members at either end. Johnson introduces a chair-rail-height mullion which Mies omits (though it is seen in other works).

In 1949 observers could be excused for conflating the two exercises: they were much more like each other than like any other MCM residences of the day. Today we might be more particular in our critique; I would have expected Mies to better assess the similarities---and the differences---between his work and Johnson's.

S

peterm
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by peterm »

I guess since Mies was preparing to build the world’s first all glass house with steel structure, he might have have good reason to be furious with his friend for beating him to it, after studying Mies’ drawings. My impression is that since Johnson knew he was stealing the idea, he went out of his way to make sure it wasn’t too close a copy. In fact, he went as far as he could to build the opposite.

It’s still an incredible house, possibly more livable and inviting than his mentor’s.

SDR
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by SDR »

Yes. That makes sense. I didn't learn about the sequence you describe early enough to cement itself into my understanding of the Glass House, I guess. One tends to be skeptical of "covers" of the original tune . . . ?

I'm happy to have that article with its accounting of the multiple sources for the estate.

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by Roderick Grant »

Johnson may have been witty and interesting, but he was also vicious. He had a tongue that could cut meat. If crossed, he could ruin careers, like John Burgee's.

SDR
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by SDR »

Is there any hint in the literature that Mies painted Farnsworth in a way that would further distinguish it from Johnson's house---or was it always meant to be white ?

In a bookstore in Berkeley long ago I perused a book which illustrated some of the many variations in plan that Johnson discarded before settling on what was built. The bathroom cylinder was at one point a coiled serpentine wall. I wish I hadn't left that book on the shelf.

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by Roderick Grant »

Interesting point, considering how often, after Farnsworth, Mies colored his framing in black.

peterm
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by peterm »

After Farnsworth, all of the houses were white: McCormick, Greenwald, and the unbuilt 50’ by 50’. And remember that Tugendhat was white, too. All houses were brick or white.

From what I’ve read, he wanted to differentiate the house surrounded by nature from the building surrounded by other manmade structures. 860 880 lakeshore had already been built in black. He only used black, silver and bronze in the highrises. From a practical point of view, white would have been a nightmare anywhere in an urban environment.

I think he always intended Farnsworth to be white.

See the 1945 presentation drawing:

https://www.archdaily.com/59719/ad-clas ... ohe-sketch

“ White, as an example, was chosen to not disrupt the natural surroundings: “…we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity.” he said. For Mies van der Rohe, looking at nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House had a totally different and more profound significance than from the outside as, from the inside, nature becomes “…part of a larger whole.” ”

The irony of this is that white makes the greatest contrast to nature, except in snow covered winter. Black would recede, and at least in theory disappear and become “one with nature”. White is the most classical; the Greek Temples were on his mind.

SDR
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by SDR »

Thanks, Peter---most helpful. Love that original elevation: white. I wonder if Johnson was aware of that. I expect he would have wanted some distance from "the source" as well ?

Black certainly recedes. Come to think of it, Craig Ellwood's homages are white, I think.

S

SDR
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Re: Article: Cancel Culture pays a visit to Philip Johnson

Post by SDR »

Not all of them---but this one is:

https://crosbydoe.com/press/temple-of-s ... residence/

"For Ellwood the Daphne Residence was [his] first white steel house . . ."

S

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