Art Stroll: Glass House, New Canaan

A couple weeks ago we took a day off and went to New Canaan in Connecticut to see Philip Johnson’s Glass House.

The Glass House was built in 1949 and Philip Johnson actually lived in it until his death in 2005.

It is an incredible building – it feels like you are part of the surrounding and it felt surprisingly cosy and livable in there.

It is amazing to think that this design is from 1949 and yet it feels just timeless. I would also not say no to those Barcelona Chairs of course ..but they weren’t offered to me :)

Apparently you can kind of donate your way into spending a night in the house …for only 30K Dollars it is yours for a couple hours …but I think you can skip that experience and just visit the grounds

A round bathroom – how cool is that!

I liked the spot of the desk.

And the ingenuity of the kitchen – the counter top can be put down and up above the sink and stove !

Apparently many famous people climbed this sculpture, the Monument to Kirstein Lincoln, and signed it on the top. There is also an inscription on the top – which is not revealed, you have to climb it, but that is actually forbidden. Probably a good idea as it is not a very safe structure. As many aren’t on the property – Philip Johnson apparently liked to play with “Safe Danger”

At the lake down a hill you can find a pavillion which upon approach reveals to be a trick of perspective and scale: It is much smaller when you would think when you are up the hill and in fact – if you were allowed to go in even my 5.3ft self would have to crouch.

I thought that was fun and playful .

Can you guess what this is? It is a dog house …we had to ask. When I showed this photo to my friend Bill, who is also an architect, he knew right away it is a dog house …I guess that is how architects envision one LOL.

The painting gallery looked almost like a bunker from the outside – very interesting inside- three circular display rooms- with rotating racks – so like a rolodex system you can display art or prepare new exhibitions without long closing times. Genius!

Johnson’s collection of Frank Stella’s Art through the years was on display

It was interesting to see how Stella’s art changed to more 3dimensional art over the course of the years.

And also to more colorful art.

The piece above is the oldest piece in the collection.

Another building on the ground is the Sculpture Gallery – it was mostly closed off but you could still see most of the pieces.

Loved this one – I am not sure whose this is – I guess I can do some more research but maybe one of you knows :)

It was an interesting building but again- you were not allowed to walk it – apparently it is a bit of a safety concern with the very low walls on the sides and the perspective being a bit off.

I do love Johnson’s use of brick!

The swimming pool in front of the Glass House- another token to “Safe Danger” – being the pool is shaped like a cone and there is only one small spot you can get out easily. The lore has it that teenagers used to jump the wall to the property and do some diving and then be a bit surprised LOL.

I really enjoyed the trip – full disclosure- upon doing some more research later into you Philip Johnson, I found out he had some profound crazy political views- he was a Hitler admirer during World War II and his inspiration for the Glass House came from a burned house in Poland during World War II . That was a total damper for me after a great day there. It is always an interesting discussion how art should be viewed distanced from the artist’s life or not …hard if the inspiration as usual comes from your own life and views. In a way I am glad I experienced the day without this knowledge – I think I would have looked at it through a different lens. Nonetheless I find it important to see these places and acknowledge that while the art or architecture itself may be good, interesting, important- we also need to acknowledge and know about the circumstances, history, inspiration that lead up to them.

Comments (1)

  • Sue Clarke


    Love that pool! Quite the unique house. I must say that his political views do put a damper on the experience.


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