The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century

Mark Lamster. Little, Brown, $35 (528p) ISBN 978-0-316-12643-4
Architecture critic Lamster (Master of Shadows: The Secret Diplomatic Career of Painter Peter Paul Rubens) outlines the complicated and contradictory life of architect Philip Johnson in this engrossing, exhaustively researched account of a brilliant opportunist who introduced modernism to America. Johnson (1906–2005) came from a well-to-do Cleveland family and graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Design, traveled to Germany in the 1930s (where he was in awe of Adolf Hitler and developed “a continued fascination with the dictator’s Nazi party”), and founded MOMA’s architectural department before becoming one of the architectural world’s most skilled and controversial members. A theoretician as much as practitioner, Johnson continuously pushed boundaries, designing the Glass House in Connecticut in 1949, New York City’s Seagram Building in 1958, and the Johnson Building at Boston Public Library in 1972. Lamster employs thoughtful analysis (“Because he was restless and his mind was nimble, he could not resist the narcotic draw of the new, and the opportunities for self-aggrandizement the new presented”) to demonstrate Johnson’s desire to make his mark. This is an entertaining and in-depth look at one of architecture’s most complex and influential characters. Agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Co. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2018
Release date: 11/06/2018
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