Park life: a new tome explores the grounds of Philip Johnson’s Glass House

Park life: a new tome explores the grounds of Philip Johnson’s Glass House

Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut might be one of modernism’s best-loved structures, but few actually know the full story of how the complex landscape and building designs of this iconic complex came to be.

Maureen Cassidy-Geiger’s new tome, The Philip Johnson Glass House: Architect in the Garden, charts the evolution of the house’s 47-acre grounds in captivating detail. Chock full of archive imagery from 1949–1995, including photographs from Ezra Stoller and Peter Aaron, the book chronicles how the natural landscape served as a canvas for Johnson’s design ideas.

On a recent trip out to the Glass House with Cassidy-Geiger, transported in Bentley’s new Bentayga no less, the unbridled austerity and succinctness of the house in its springtime splendor could not have been more striking. The one-room home, which remains sparsely furnished with select artwork chosen by Johnson, intentionally throws its luscious surroundings into the fore – perpetuating the man’s view of the house as a park and equally about the landscape design as the architecture itself.

Whether it’s the Pond Pavillion tucked at the foot of a slope below the house, which currently houses Yayoi Kusama’s ethereal work Narcissus Garden, or the bunker-like Underground Gallery that boasts a system of rotating panels displaying hanging art works much like a Roladex, the multitude of design ideas on display at the Glass House is awe-inducing. And now, thanks to Cassidy-Geiger’s comprehensive book, we can all come away from it with a greater understanding of a master at work.

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