The Glass House || The Art

The Painting Gallery

A Frank Stella dominion.

Frank Stella
Effingham II, 1966
Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy on canvas


Frank Stella
Brzozdowce I, 1973
Mixed media: felt, fabric, and acrylic on panel and plywood

Frank Stella
Hagmatana III, 1967
Fluorescent acrylic on canvas


Frank Stella
Averroes, 1960
Aluminum paint on canvas


Frank Stella
Tetuan II, 1964
Fluorescent alkyd on canvas


We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Painting Gallery is built as a tomb, its exterior very much resembling that of the Royal Tomb of Philip II in Aigai, Greece. Philip II (382–336 BC) was the king of Macedonia from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC, and father of Alexander the Great. Our guide confirmed the design was, indeed, inspired by Kind Philip’s tomb.

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The Sculpture Gallery

While the Painting Gallery was inspired by an ancient Greek Tomb, Johnson looked to modern Greece for the design of his Sculpture Gallery. His inspiration came partly from the Greek islands and their many villages marked by stairways. Johnson remarked that in these villages, “every street is a staircase to somewhere.” He liked it so much that he seriously considered moving his residence from the Glass House to the Sculpture Gallery. But then, he thought again: “Where would I have put the sculpture?

Robert Morris
Untitled, 1965-70
Three L-shaped units of stainless steel


John Chamberlain
The Archbishop, The Golfer, and Ralph, 1982-83
Painted and chromium plated steel

George Segal
Lovers on a Bed II, 1970
Plaster, iron bed frame, paint


Frank Stella
Raft of Medusa, Part I, 1990
Oil and enamel on etched honeycomb aluminum with steel pipes, beams, and other metal elements


Michael Heizer
Prismatic Flake #4, 1990
Modified concrete, steel base


Julian Schnabel
Ozymandias, 1986-90
It looks so much like wood that it was hard to believe it is made of cast bronze, patina and paint


An exterior view of the Sculpture Gallery

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The Studio

The Studio, a one-room workspace and library, was referred to by Johnson as an ”event on the landscape”. When first completed, the Studio’s stucco exterior was bright white, but later Johnson painted it a soft brown color, described by colorist Donald Kaufman as ”stone greige.”

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Da Monsta

This building, constructed of modified gunnite, is the closest to Johnson’s thinking about sculpture and form at the end of his life – what he called the ”structured warp.”

The name of the building is an adaptation of the “monster”, a phrase for the building that resulted from a conversation with architecture critic Herbert Muschamp. Johnson felt the building had the quality of a living thing.

I thought Frank Gehry would have felt at home here.

The Glass House

New Canaan, CT

November 18th, 2018

The Glass House

“In the case of the Glass House, the stylistic approach is perfectly clear. Mies van der Rohe and I had discussed how you could build a glass house and each of us built one. Mies’ was, of course, primary and mine was an adoption from the master, although it’s quite a different approach. In my case, there were a lot of historical influences at work. The Glass House stylistically is a mixture of Mies van der Rohe, Malevich, the Parthenon, the English garden, the whole Romantic Movement, the asymmetry of the 19th century. In other words, all these things are mixed up in it but basically it is the last of the modern, in the sense of the historic way we treat modern architecture today, the simple cube.” – Philip Johnson, 1991

And so it was that Johnson’s famed masterpiece came to be. But it’s not just the house: a Studio, a Painting Gallery, a Sculpture Gallery, Da Monsta, a Brick House and a Pavillion in the Pond complete the picture.

But first things first:

The Gate

A standalone structure with no fence, so anyone can just walk by. Still, quite impressive in size and mechanics, with the bar sliding up to let our shuttle bus enter, and down again behind it. It was a sailboat boom in a previous life.

The Brick House

In contrast to the diaphanous Glass House, it was conceived as a guest house offering total privacy – light pours in from skylights and the only windows were placed at the rear.

The Glass House

Although there are no walls separating them, Philip Johnson referred to areas within the space as “rooms.” So we have the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and an entrance area – their limits defined by furniture or objects.

And, yes, it gets really hot when the sun shines. In order to avoid suffocation from the greenhouse effect, Johnson had special modular wooden panels placed on the glass ones for shade; they would be moved according to the hour of day or season.

The painting in the ”living room” is ”Burial of Phocion” ca. 1648-49, by Nicolas Poussin. It was selected specifically for the house by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the first director of the Museum of Modern Art.

The only really private room is the bathroom enclosed in a rounded brick structure that holds the fireplace on the other side.

View to the Pavillion in the Pond and the Monument to Lincoln Kirstein, 1985 – a 30 feet high tower, which Johnson frequently climbed, describing it “a staircase to nowhere.”

The Grounds

Artwork by Donald Judd, Untitled (1971).
Concrete
Rear view of the Brick House and its round windows.

Let’s take a breath here because, next, we’ll take a look at the art.

The Glass House

New Canaan, CT

November 18th, 2018

The French touch

Recently, the Jewish Museum presented the first U.S. exhibition on the work of French designer and architect Pierre Chareau (1883–1950). On show were mainly furniture and lighting fixtures, as well as designs for Maison de Verre, the glass house completed in Paris in 1932, in collaboration with Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet (1889-1979) and craftsman metalworker Louis Dalbet.

Chareau’s designs were complemented by pieces from his personal art collection, since both he and his wife Dollie were active collectors.

But I only had eyes for these sleek, stylish pieces of furniture and fixtures created in the 1920s, yet so modern they could have come right out of a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park.

Take your pick:

La Religieuse (the nun) floor lamp, ca. 1923. Mahogany and alabaster with metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
Sofa, 1923. Rosewood with fabric upholstery.
Telephone table, ca. 1924. Walnut and patinated iron. La Petite Religieuse (the little nun), table lamp ca. 1924. Walnut, alabaster and patinated iron, metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
La Religieuse (the nun) floor lamp, ca. 1923. Mahogany and alabaster with metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
Coat and hat rack designed for La Maison de Verre ca. 1931. – Metalwork by Louis Dalbet. Stool, ca. 1923. Mahogany and mahogany-veneered wood. – Bookcase with swivelling table, ca. 1930. Walnut and black patinated iron. – Ceiling lamp, ca. 1923. Patinated brass and alabaster.
From ”The grand salon de la Maison de Verre”. Corbeille (basket) sofa, 1923. Wood and velours, with tapestry upholstery by Jean Lurçat. – Telephone fan table, ca. 1924. Wood. – High backed chauffeuse (fireside armchair), ca. 1925.

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design exhibition ran between November 2016 – March 2017. You can read and browse through more photos on The Jewish Museum website.

January 8th, 2017