"You take a canvas, divide it up like a checkerboard... and go from there." - Man Ray

Philip Johnson: Diary of an Eccentric Architect
Philip Johnson: Diary of an Eccentric Architect
About the film
  • Year
  • Categories
  • Duration 56 minutes
  • Producers Barbara Wolf, Edgar Howard
  • Director Barbara Wolf

“My place in New Canaan is…a diary of an eccentric architect.” Thus begins a fascinating look into the mind of one of our most creative and significant architects.

Philip Johnson was always on the forefront of stylistic change, and his property in New Canaan, Connecticut, is a kind of laboratory where Johnson was his own best client. It was there that he built the famous “Glass House” that he resided in for so many years.

This building has no walls; (the landscape became “expensive wallpaper”) an accompanying guest house, by contrast, has no windows, though it is light and sensuous inside. We visit these, as well as the gallery which houses Johnson’s extensive collection of contemporary art on its revolving walls.

“My latest folly,” says Johnson, “is to build buildings without straight lines…It’s the first time I’ve had a building I can’t draw and have to design partially as it goes up.” This new structure is at the core of the film, and we are able to see the sculptural building progress from its initial stages to completion.

This documentary depicts Johnson at work and the importance of the architectural act, the actual construction, and how the buildings interact with their environment — in this case, the autumn leaves or snow of New Canaan.

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