cover image Philip Johnson: A Visual Biography

Philip Johnson: A Visual Biography

Ian Volner. Phaidon, $150 (600p) ISBN 978-0-7148-7682-5

Volner (Michael Graves: Design for Life) presents a grand look at legendary architect Philip Johnson’s remarkable life and career in this lavishly illustrated visual biography. Employing rare archival material such as photographs, ephemera, and personal correspondence, Volner reveals the power and influence of larger-than-life Johnson, “a hierophant for new thinking and new trends, both within his own profession and in adjacent creative fields.” Volner narrates the architect’s life: born to a wealthy family in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1906, Johnson traveled widely in Europe as a young man before discovering a passion for architecture. Becoming the first curator of the Department of Architecture at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 1932, Johnson flirted dangerously with Nazism before finally establishing an architecture practice and achieving renown for his Glass House in New Canaan, Conn., in 1947. (Volner includes nearly 20 pages of images of the house.) Continually transforming himself and his field, Johnson would go on to help shape such New York City landmarks as the Seagram Building (in 1958), Lincoln Center (in 1969), and the AT&T building (in 1984). This accessible, thoughtful, and visually stunning work—it’s packed with more than 500 photographs—is perfect for architecture and modern art connoisseurs. (Apr.)