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Johnson, Philip

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2014.04.23 13:00
Philip Johnson Was a Nazi Propagandist
Perhaps from now on a story like this will arise every time a Johnson building is featured in the mainstream news. What's weird though is that it's as if a Johnson building getting mainstream media attention is automatically equal to a Johnson building getting "good publicity," but "good publicity" is not allowed for anything that has an association (however remote) with Nazi sympathies. If the New York State Pavilion wasn't in the current news, the article would not have happened. It's the combination of strange (guilt by) associations that harbor their own kind of almost perniciousness.
Johnson's domestic architecture of the 1950s makes for an interesting study, especially in relation to what Kahn was doing with domestic architecture at the same time, and what Le Corbusier started doing subsequently. I like the Wiley House, despite what Venturi wrote:
"In the Wiley House, for instance, in contrast to his glass house, Philip Johnson attempted to go beyond the simplicities of the elegant pavilion. He explicitly separated and articulated the enclosed "private functions" of living on a ground floor pedestal, thus separating them from the open social functions in the modular pavilion above. But even here the building becomes a diagram of an oversimplified program for living--an abstract theory of either-or. Where simplicity cannot work, simpleness results. Blatant simplification means bland architecture. Less is a bore."
Wow, I never imagined bad publicity could be so much fun (to rewrite).


2014.04.23 14:00
Philip Johnson Was a Nazi Propagandist
But there is definitely enough 'room' in cyberspace to build a museum for every atrocity.


2014.04.23 15:38
Philip Johnson Was a Nazi Propagandist
Actually, the more I investigate and study the architecture of Philip Johnson, the more I find a very good if not also somewhat rare architectural talent. He's certainly not an architect's architect, but he's very much an architecture's architect, and that's where the rareness of his talent lies. Look at this quotation from Kramer's article (linked above):
"...what characterizes his work is a series of brilliantly performed charades in which other people’s ideas, other people’s tastes, and other people’s styles have been appropriated, exploited, deconstructed, and repackaged to advance the prosperity of his own reputation and influence." Take away the notion of charade (because Johnson was never trying to fool anyone about the character of his designs) and the notion of advancing his own reputation (because Johnson was more concerned about the advancement of architecture) and we're left with: "other people’s ideas, other people’s tastes, and other people’s styles have been appropriated, exploited, deconstructed, and repackaged" which is not something particularly easy to do because it requires a very sharp eye and a very facile imagination (toward manifestation) which is exactly what amounts to talent


2014.08.08 14:56
8 August
A completely private world, New Canaan does not admit basic explanations apart from the autobiographical purpose which Johnson has poured so liberally into these buildings. What emerges is a remarkable museum of architecture. True, this is an architecture represented in keeping with the tastes of a single collector and conceived by a single designer - but in this "museum" the uncertainties, the rules violated, the baseless games, the extra-territorial nature of contemporary architectural languages, are ruthlessly listed, memorized and catalogued.
As a great admirer of Jünger, Hans Slemayer, states: "The world, for which the museum is becoming the most sacred theme, is already, by its essence, a world which sees everything in a historical perspective." Philip Johnson probably belongs to this world as well. For this reason he possesses a trait in common with Georg Fuchs. His collector's spirit reaches New Canaan, where it narrates synchronically the story of contemporary architectural uncertainties, arranging in the museum they give shape to, the traces of the interior of his own life as well.
The house of dreams and memories, Philip Johnson at New Canaan (1982)

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