|A R C H I T E C T U R A L F O R U M
JOHNSON AT 90
23 July, 1996 - From Usenet group Alt.Architecture
An interesting analogy between fact and fiction that can be made about Philip Johnson is to compare his work to Peter Keating (From The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand). Peter Keating was the symbol of "secondhandedness" in The Fountainhead in that he was only able to design by copying the ideas of others. This principle also holds true for Philip Johnson. If you look through all of his designs, you will not find one which isn't a copy of the style/design of another architect. As far as I can tell, he contributed zero to the realm of ideas in architecture. He is merely a "copycat" architect with great connections.
A hideous symbol of his work is the AT&T building in New York. It is an application of post-modernism (copy of Venturi) to a highrise. The list goes on and on. Apparantly, in a recent interview, Philip Johnson extolled the virtues of one he considers the greatest architect currently, none other that Frank Gehry.
Gehry, of course, is merely a nihilist architect working from the deconstructivist ideas presented by Eisenman.
Once architecture attempts to evade reality totally by presenting buildings that appear to be oozing in a chaotic flux, when such chaos does not and cannot exist, what can be next? Note Gehry's very consistent hypocrisy in his buildings - the outside is chaos, the inside is ordered - a very schizophrenic approach. Only Eisenman seems to have the consistency to make his buildings as terrible on the outside as the inside. In walking through them you at first feel a sense of nausea, and secondarily a sense of the architect laughing at the building.
In any case, were Philip Johnson any younger, you can bet that he would be trying to copy Gehry in his next projects. I'm glad he's retiring.
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