Philip Johnson's Booth House is in Westchester County, New York and it's been on the market since April. The Booth House was Philip Johnson's first private commission and the house was completed in 1946, three years before his iconic Glass House in New Canaan, CT. Johnson lived in the Glass House until his death at age 98 in 2005. He was survived by his longtime partner David Whitney. Upon Whitney's death a few months later, the Glass House was left to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is now open to the public.
|Philip Johnson's Glass House|
Philip Johnson was the face of 20th Century American architecture. I'm sure some of my architect pals would love to argue that point but in my mind he was. His list of friends, foes and collaborators reads like a who's who of the last century. He collaborated with Mies van der Rohe, offended Frank Lloyd Wright (I think everybody did), and introduced such notables as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier to the American public. In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art and it was at that museum in 1932 he mounted an exhibition called "The International Style: Architecture since 1922."
International Style and Modernism were American architecture for the next four decades. Like Modernism, International Style believed in simplified form and a rejection of ornament. Johnson's Seagram Building from 1956 is a brilliant example of the International Style.
It's easy to dismiss International Style today but it was very much a product of its time. The Internationalists rejected everything that symbolized pre-war Europe. Ornament and artifice represented the tribal conflicts that plunged the world into first one and then a second World War. The level of disruption of those two events cannot be overstated. In its way, Johnson's Seagram Building is a repudiation of that conflict and an attempt to usher in a new era of cooperation and peace. What happened to Beaux Arts? It rode off on death's pale horse, that's what happened.
Johnson and his contemporaries began to see the Internationalist Style as a dead end and the Post-Modernism that followed began to embrace stylized ornamentation and symmetry. Johnson's AT&T Building from the early '80s with its Chippendale pediment shows his his take on Post-Modernism well.
Johnson was a cultural force in ways beyond his buildings, through his position at MOMA he promoted such artists as Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and many more. Philip Johnson brought world culture to the US and in just as many ways brought US culture to the world.
And just think, for a mere two million dollars you could own a piece of modern history.