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Philip Johnson: The Dallas Connections

Philip Johnson: The Dallas Connections

We had another great movie night Wednesday night.  (Join us for a two-part screening of Ken Burns’documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright next month.) It was a mid-century Moderndouble feature…an interesting documentary on Mies van der Rohe’s FarnsworthHouse and its rescue from possible destruction and a wonderful film on PhilipJohnson centered on his Glass House complex in New Canaan, Connecticut.

It is full of Mr. Johnson at his irascible best/worst.  He takes on clients and other architects,tries to remember titles of painting in his vast and impressive collection andreminisces about a career-long timeline of buildings on his estate.  It led to much conversation afterwards, andthen led me further…to another look at Frank Welch’s great book PhilipJohnson & Texas.

It’s a wonderful read, full of personal stories that explainhow Johnson formed such a connection to the state and some of its mostinfluential arts patrons.  Names aredropped throughout, from the Menils in Houstonto our very own Peter Stewart, Caroline Rose Hunt and Stanley Marcus, amongothers.  All were involved in some ofJohnson’s most important projects here in the Lone Star State.

The movie and the book illustrate the connections betweenworks on the Glass House estate and those here in Dallas. The arches in the exterior (and dining room) of the Beck House on Strait Lane echothe columns in the folly in the lake and the bedroom of the guest house in New Canaan.  (Andthere’s a tie-in to the columned portico on the front of the Amon Carter Museum also.)  The free-form shapes of the Gate House in Connecticut portend theshapes of the Cathedral of Hope, of which the Interfaith Peace Chapel has beencompleted.

And the other projects here in Dallas are discussed, including the (love itor hate it) JFK Memorial.  ThanksgivingSquare.  And an interesting account ofwhy the Crescent looks the way it does. (Galveston,anyone?)

If you don’t have it, you need it for your library.  In the meantime, come on over to the Center.  You can read a chapter or two and we candiscuss.

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