Arthena had the opportunity to tour the serene grounds of The Glass House and enjoy Yayoi Kusama's installation that celebrated the 110th anniversary of Philip Johnson's birth and the 10th anniversary of the site's opening to the public.
The Glass House sits on 49 acres of lush greenery in New Canaan, Connecticut, a neighborhood filled with impressive modern architecture. The property itself is sprinkled with 14 architectural structures that are a "diary" of Johnson's architectural ideas. Much of the property's forest was carefully curated to reveal views and shape vistas that include follies, pavilions, and natural elements that Johnson referred to as "events on the landscape." The 'main event' is the Glass House, which is filled with a history of art deco furniture and old masters pieces from Johnson's private collection. The rooms seamlessly flow through the completely transparent walls to reveal views of the environment, including the pond Johnson created on the grounds.
Dots Obsession - Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope was a special installation in which Kusama created an "infinity room" experience by covering the Glass House with her iconic polka dots. The vibrant polka dots resembled a party hat that the House wore to celebrate Johnson's birthday.
Narcissus Garden, a landscape installation that will be on view throughout the 2016 tour season, was first created fifty years ago in 1966 for the 33rd Venice Biennale. The installation is comprised of 1,300 floating steel spheres located in the Lower Meadow and forest. Drifting in the newly restored pond, the spheres move with the wind and follow the pond's natural currents, forming a kinetic sculpture. A soft music is played as the spheres glide into one another, drawing the visitors further into the tranquil, outdoor space.
Johnson once said that "the landscape is by far the most important thing in the mind of the architect and it for the visitor... We're dealing with bridges, water, things like that. So water had to be part of that. I don't know why you have to have water. But it's a basic feeling of mankind, something about the aquatic motion of water that's amniotic maybe, but it is basic."
Kusama juxtaposes Johnson's water feature with an existential moment. Kusama explained in an interview, "my desire is to measure and to make order of the infinite, unbounded universe from my own position within it, with polka dots. In exploring this, the single dot is my own life, and I am a single particle amongst billions. I work with the principal themes of infinity, self-image, and compulsive repetition in objects and forms, such as the steel spheres of Narcissus Garden and the mirrored walls I have created."
The grounds are a safe heaven to a beautifully mapped out landscape, graced with the architectural elements that elegantly compliment the natural environment. Kusama's personal touch on the classic estate paints the grounds like a fabulous birthday party.
If you have the opportunity to visit The Glass House, make sure you see Johnson's personal art collection, which includes vibrant Frank Stella pieces. The private collection is housed in a quatrefoil shaped painting gallery, embedded within a small hill on the property.
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