Ramble On

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Visiting the Glass House, Part 3

Because he was a famous architect, the completion of Philip Johnson's attracted a lot of attention in the press at the time.  A number of publications since then have called the gatherings that occurred there a '20th Century Salon' - since they featured other prominent arts and culture figures from the mid-century era.  

The story goes that there is a cigarette burn on one of the Mies pieces in the living room - courtesy of Andy Warhol (this will not be the only Warhol reference in today's post, by the way).  Our group toured the main house and had a walk around the grounds.

While we were in the house, Mary and I couldn't help notice a few similarities between the place and our beloved Hawksbill Cabin.  One example is the brick flooring that ends at the line of windows, as it does at our house - although here, there's a bit of lawn outside, and at the Hawksbill Cabin, the view continues to the brick terrace, progressing off into the wilderness of the hollow below.

Our tour included many of the other buildings on the property.  I won't highlight them in this post, but would refer readers back to the Wikipedia article for more information.  However, here is a view from the living room, looking out to the pond and a couple of the follies there.

The original 11-acre estate was developed over the course of 50 years or so, with small structures such as these scattered throughout.  I can imagine strolling about these grounds and enjoying the little projects as I came upon them - a very relaxing juxtaposition to life in the city.

Johnson lived here with his partner David Whitney.  They collected a lot of art, including this Warhol portrait of Johnson, and built galleries for the paintings as well as the sculptures.  These buildings are on one side of the grounds, so we enjoyed a walk through the fall colors, mostly hickory trees, over to them,

There was an installation by a Japanese artist in place at the time that periodically framed the main house in fog.  Our visit took place on a sunny day so the feature was a bit incongruous - I would have liked to see it under an overcast sky to appreciate it differently, evoking a naturalist frame of mind.

As we progressed towards the end of our tour, we visited Johnson's library and studio, a small building set away and across the field from the main house.  There on a drawing table I saw some of the tools he used laid out precisely, at the ready, should someone come along and need to roll out some construction drawings and work on a detail.  Nothing doing, though, and eventually my thoughts turned to the thought that most of that work is done on computers now anyway!

Finally, our tour ended, and the group made our way by shuttle back to New Canaan.  The group all parted ways, and Mary and I hopped on the train, bound for our next stop, New York, where we planned to spend a couple of nights sightseeing from a home base in Chelsea.  I'll get to those posts next.

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