Philip Johnson: Architecture as Art

March 15-July 31, 2008


Philip Johnson, Da Monsta, desinged 1993, New Canaan,
Connecticut. Photo by Michael Moran

Philip Johnson: Architecture as Art showcased the relationship between art and architecture as seen through Philip Johnson's (1906-2005) late works. Curated by Hilary Lewis, a longtime interpreter of Johnson's life and work, the exhibition will present visitors with the final and fascinating chapter of his long career.

From structured, twisting forms that may remind some viewers of the current work of Santiago Calatrava, to softer, curving expressions produced in chain-link, fiberglass or concrete, Johnson and his firm Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects produced work in the 1990s and 2000s that was often not only sculptured architecture, but also sculpture itself. An individual who continually appreciated the lure of monuments, Johnson experimented with such structures during this period, producing numerous designs, many of which were never fully fabricated. This segment of Johnson's architectural portfolio is one of the most powerful expressions of his lifelong commitment to architecture as art, which contrasts boldly with the approach of many other prominent architects of his generation.

Using documentation based on her close working relationship with Johnson, Lewis will provide visitors with Johnson's direct commentary on these projects and structures, which reveal a side of this renowned architect that may surprise those that have become accustomed to Johnson as the creator of The Glass House and the AT&T Building, but not as the generator of monumental clocks and obelisk-like markers for commercial developments.

Visitors to the exhibition were given the opportunity to examine this fertile, and until this time, unpublicized period of Johnson's portfolio. A number of projects presented are still in process at Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects including the Cathedral of Hope for Dallas, Texas and the Habitable Sculpture, a concept for combining sculpture with residences designed for Antonio Nino Vendome. Johnson was influenced strongly by works of art, from paintings to sculpture. Art from Johnson's own collection, including works by was on display along with a combination of models, drawings, sculpture and photographs.

About the Curator

Hilary Lewis is an expert on architecture, urban planning and real estate development. Lewis collaborated with Philip Johnson on books, multiple articles and a short film over a 12 year period. During this time, Johnson spent years with Lewis recording his memoirs and ideas on architecture. Her first book, Philip Johnson: The Architect in His Own Words (Rizzoli) was co-authored by John O’Connor and received the AIA International Book Award. Her second, The Architecture of Philip Johnson (Time Warner Book Group) was produced with Richard Payne, renowned for his decades-long commitment to photograph Johnson’s oeuvre.

Exhibition design and graphics by Wendy Evans Joseph Architecture.

The Kreeger Museum gives special thanks to Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects for contributing the firm's numerous models, photographs and drawings for Philip Johnson: Architecture as Art. We are particularly grateful for the significant assistance of Alan Ritchie and Matthew Barrett on behalf of the firm.


The Kreeger Museum gratefully acknowleges the generosity of the following sponsors:

Major Sponsors:
Lehman Smith McLeish PLLC
Antonio Nino Vendome

Additional support provided by:

James G. Davis Construction Corporation
J Street Development
Hickok Cole Architects
Huntington T. Block
Movado Group
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Mr. and Mrs. Jay Bothwell
Mr. Michael K. Gewirz
Mr. Robert Pahnke
Ms. Amy Shulman

InKind Gifts:
Design Within Reach
Reliable-Churchill Distributor

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