Philip Johnson: Life and Work

Franz Schulze, Author
Franz Schulze, Author Alfred A. Knopf $30 (465p) ISBN 978-0-394-57204-8
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In a candid, revealing, major biography of one of the prime forces in American architecture, Schulze views Philip Johnson less as an original than as a pluralist who primarily followed, ratified and refined forms invented by others. The spoiled son of a prominent Cleveland family, Johnson (born in 1906) championed the geometrical International Style as architect, critic and Museum of Modern Art curator in Manhattan. Later he strived to free himself from the strictures of orthodox modernism. Schulze, biographer of Mies van der Rohe, divulges Johnson's tormented confrontation with his homosexuality while at Harvard. Johnson's plunge into right-wing politics between 1934 and 1945-including his fervid infatuation with Hitler, support of demagogue Huey Long and publication of pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic articles in Father Charles Coughlin's hate-sheet Social Justice in 1939-comes under close scrutiny. In the 1990s, Johnson issued public apologies for his political past, yet his disdain of parliamentary government, his devotion to Nietzsche and his antirationalism, as revealed here, may fuel the debate over his life and his place in architectural history. Photos. (Nov.)
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