(May 1, 2011) the Philip Johnson Glass House is launching its 5th season of tours and events since opening to the public in 2007. An essential pilgrimage for disciples of modern art and the International Style, the 47-acre site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation located about an hour northeast of New York city in New Canaan, Connecticut offers a glimpse into the creative process of one of the country's leading modernists.
photograph © Eirik Johnson
For visitors who want to learn more about the property than the existing general tours provide, the Glass House is introducing three 2-hour "Focus" tours. Each will hone in on one specific aspect of Johnson's pursuits there: architecture, contemporary art, and the landscape. At a recent press preview, my colleagues and I were treated to a delightful afternoon of sample "teaser" excursions. The day included explorations of Johnson's various buildings on the grounds; the painting and sculpture galleries along with works by Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, and Julian Schnabel; and a hike that took us down a previously-restricted path to an area below the house where Johnson and his partner David Whitney created a multi-arched folly on a man-made lake, and from where we could gaze up at their transparent retreat from a rare vantage point.
Inside the art gallery. Photograph © Harf Zimmermann
Inside the sculpture gallery. Photograph © Harf Zimmermann
Johnson's folly on the lake and Kirstein Tower, a tribute to Lincoln Kirstein, in the background.
Photograph © Eirik Johnson
Gazing up at the Glass House. Photograph © Eirik Johnson
According to a spokesperson, the new tours are meant to celebrate Johnson's 50-year legacy of architecture, as well as he and Whitney's curatorial approach toward creating a "bucolic" landscape, and their significant role in cultivating the art and artists that defined an era. To maintain this spirit, the Glass House is hosting special "Conversations in Context, a series of 10 Thursday evening tours led by such luminaries as Philip Johnson scholar Hilary Lewis, color specialists Donald Kaufman + Taffy Dahl, New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger, architects Tod Williams + Billie Tsien, artist David Salle, Diller Scofidio + Renfro partner Charles Renfro, and MoMA curator of architecture and design Barry Bergdoll. Meant to stimulate personal participation and dialogue, each of the presentations will conclude in the Glass House with a wine reception to continue the conversation.
Inside the Glass House. Photograph © Eirik Johnson
It's a beautiful site! One that not only reveals the essence of Johson's life and work, but also inspires reflection on much more than his iconic structure. For tour tickets and info about the full roster of programs that will run through November 2011, visit philipjohnsonglasshouse.org or call +1-866-811-4111.
photogtaph © Eirik Johnson