Mark Lamster | Essays

Modern Views, Home and Abroad


What would Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson have thought of sharing the billing in Modern Views, the new book celebrating the Farnsworth House and the Glass House? Mies, on visiting Johnson’s New Canaan pavilion, was so offended by the place that he refused to spend the night. Johnson, Oedipal son that he was, could be cutting about the “Old Man.” Still, at this point one can hardly imagine either man without the other. Fitting, then, that the two properties in question are administered by the National Trust, to which proceeds of the book, a collection of artists’ responses to them, will be devoted. Both face serious preservation challenges, and could use the help.

While I’m at it, let me note that David Diao, one of the artists represented in Modern Views, has a show opening next week at Office Baroque, in Antwerp. Johnson and the Glass House are frequent subjects of Diao’s work, which seems inspired by, among others, Warhol and Ruscha — both Johnson favorites. Johnson was less enamored with Antwerp. On a visit in 1930, he found it “dull and overcrowded with Flemish idiots.” Belgians, generally, he characterized as “dirty and disagreeable.” Favell Lee Mortimer had nothing on him, but at least give him credit for admiring the great Rubens Descent at the Antwerp cathedral. Frankly, I thought the Elevation would be more his speed.

Posted in: Architecture

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