Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The weekend before our wedding we visited Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, CT. (We'd bought the tickets in the winter before we'd even gotten engaged, which is why we ended up visiting at such a hectic time for us!) Seeing the Glass House and the other structures on the property was certainly very interesting, but I wasn't sure what to take away from what we saw.
It was amazing to see this architectural icon in person, and I was surprised by how humble it felt. The heroic photos of the house and its Barcelona loungers always seemed like a luxurious, mid-century setting. However, the house itself has brick floors, plain wood cabinetry and the furnishings all have the patina of age that comes from having been used and loved. The kitchen is remarkable ordinary with the simplest of faucets on the plain stainless sink and a four-burner electric range that may be original to the house (it is clear that Johnson was not cooking here).
I was also struck by how silly it is to think of the Glass House as a real house. There are dozens of other structures on the property, including a house for Johnson's staff, a structure for his office/studio, not one but two large structures devoted to housing his art collection. You can only live in the Glass House if you are wealthy enough to have several other houses for your belongings and to do many of the things you'd do in a regular home (like oh say, cooking or laundry). It is stunning nonetheless, and it made me want to go home and clear away the clutter in our apartment. However, I love my books, photographs, dishes and cookware -- I couldn't live without them.
If you have a chance, the Glass House is definitely worth a visit. If you've already been to see it, I'd love to hear what you thought of Johnson's masterpiece.