JOHNSON, Philip

(1906-2005)
   One of the most influential architects of the 20th century in the United States, Philip Johnson is known for developing his scholarly interests in aesthetics and architectural history into a monumental, modern architectural idiom. After traveling to Germany to study the work of modern European architects such as Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Johnson returned to the United States in 1930 and went on to establish the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1932, Johnson, together with the architectural historian Henry Russell Hitchcock, organized an exhibition of International style architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which helped to establish not only the term "International style" but also the criteria for this new modernism. By focusing on the formal aspects of these modern European buildings, which included a focus on functionality and a lack of applied decoration, Johnson and Hitchcock helped to make this spare modernism popular in the United States.
   Johnson was deeply influenced by Mies's focus on rich materials, as seen in Mies's Barcelona Pavilion from 1929, and from that connection Johnson went on to experiment with the use of glass in his buildings, as seen in his famous private residence called the "Glass House," built with his associate Richard Foster in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1949. Here Johnson was inspired by sketches of glass houses made by Mies van der Rohe, as well as Mies's Farnsworth House, built in Plano, Illinois, in 1946. Johnson sought to take these plans a step further by constructing an almost completely transparent home, built as a cube of glass with the most minimal support system and with internal partitions that loosely divide the living quarters and enclose only the bathroom. Set into a lush, country landscape, the home's privacy is ensured by its isolated setting rather than its walls. In 1959, Mies van der Rohe and Johnson built one of the earliest International style skyscrapers, the 39-story Seagram Building in New York City. This sleek bronze and tinted-glass office building on Park Avenue established a new corporate identity widely copied across the United States that was both discreet and elegant.
   While Johnson's early work conformed to the International style, his later work is characterized by a reintroduction of historical references and symbolism, which became the hallmark of Post-Modernism. In 1968, Johnson formed a partnership with the American architect John Burgee, and the joining of Johnson's aesthetic sensibilities with Burgee's business skills resulted in a very prolific career for both that shifted the majority of Johnson's commissions from smaller works to more monumental corporate construction. Together they sought to infuse modern architecture with a greater symbolic, aesthetic, and visual variety by the inclusion of classical references, a new ornamentation, and a firmer integration with the surrounding environment. Their most famous building is the AT&T Corporate Headquarters, built in New York City in 1978-1983. This skyscraper is the first building to break away from the modern glass towers that dominated urban skylines across the United States; instead, Johnson's skyscraper is covered with an elegant granite veneer and features a tall central classical arch that rises through several stories, flanked by the columns of a colossal ground-floor portico. Thirty-six rows of tall windows mask the 80-story building, giving the illusion of a more human-scaled height. The most famous feature of the building, however, is the roofline, which is in the shape of a Chippendale highboy. Although many people did not initially appreciate Johnson's humorous connection between a "highboy" and a "high-rise," the Seagram Building has since become an icon of Post-Mod-ern aesthetics and has served to bring architecture down from its lofty, intellectual premise to a more popular vernacular language. In 1979, Philip Johnson was the first architect to win the newly established Pritzker Architecture Prize.
   The socalled Lipstick Building, a skyscraper office building constructed by Johnson and Burgee in New York City in 1986, is an equally expressive commercial building. The structure received its unusual elliptical shape due to the developer's requirement to create a unique structure that would upstage its surroundings and overcome its undesirable Manhattan site. Johnson remarked that in this building, all offices could be considered "corner" offices, and in fact, this building housed the architectural firm of Johnson/Burgee until its gradual dissolution began in 1991. The Comerica Building, at One Detroit Center, was built in 1991-1993 by Burgee in consultation with Johnson, and reflects historical references consistent with Post-Modernism. This skyscraper stands out in the Detroit skyline because of its Flemish Renaissance-inspired stepped roofline and Neo-Gothic spires. Covered in granite, its sleek modernist façade typifies the new commercial architecture built in many American cities during the 1980s and 1990s, which was meant to create a unique silhouette rather than a uniform design. Highly influential in the development of 20th-century architecture, Philip Johnson helped to adapt the International style from its European origins into a widely popular American style, and then to point this modernist style into new, more diverse directions.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. . 2008.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Johnson, Philip C. — ▪ American architect in full  Philip Cortelyou Johnson   born July 8, 1906, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. died Jan. 25, 2005, New Canaan, Conn.   American architect and critic known both for his promotion of the International Style and, later, for his… …   Universalium

  • Johnson, Philip — ► (1906 2005) Arquitecto estadounidense. Autor de las torres KIO, en Madrid, la Casa de Cambridge y del Lincoln Center, en Nueva York …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Johnson,Philip Cortelyou — Johnson, Philip Cortelyou. Born 1906. American architect who designed the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center (1964) and the American Telephone and Telegraph Headquarters Building, now the Sony Building, (1978), both in New York City. * * * …   Universalium

  • Johnson, Philip Cortelyou — ▪ 2006  American architect (b. July 8, 1906, Cleveland, Ohio d. Jan. 25, 2005, New Canaan, Conn.), wielded great influence in American architectural design, playing a defining role in several 20th century movements, from International Style to… …   Universalium

  • Johnson, Philip C(ortelyou) — born July 8, 1906, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. died January 25, 2005, New Canaan, Conn. U.S. architect and critic. He studied philosophy and architecture at Harvard University. As coauthor of The International Style: Architecture Since 1922 (1932) and… …   Universalium

  • Johnson, Philip (Cortelyou) — (8 jul. 1906, Cleveland, Ohio, EE.UU.–27 ene. 2005, New Canaan, Conn.). Arquitecto y crítico estadounidense. Estudió filosofía y arquitectura en la Universidad de Harvard. Como coautor de El estilo internacional: arquitectura desde 1922 (1932) y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Philip Johnson — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Philip Johnson Philip Johnson a la edad de 95 años. Información personal Nombre Philip Johnson Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Philip Cortelyou Johnson — Philip Johnson 1963 Philip Cortelyou Johnson (* 8. Juli 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio; † 25. Januar 2005 in New Canaan, Connecticut) war ein US amerikanischer Architekt und Architekturkritiker. Er formte zusammen mit Henry Russel Hitchcock …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Johnson — Johnson, Andrew Johnson, Eyvind Johnson, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Philip Johnson, Samuel * * * (as used in expressions) . Marguerite Johnson Bunche, Ralph (Johnson) Field, Stephen J(ohnson) Heade, Martin Johnson Johnson …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • JOHNSON (P. C.) — JOHNSON PHILIP CORTELYOU (1906 ) Architecte américain. Après des études à l’université Harvard, Johnson débute comme critique et historien de l’architecture contemporaine. Propagandiste fervent du mouvement rationaliste, il organise en 1932 une… …   Encyclopédie Universelle


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