Personifications of Modernism: Philip Johnson

The progress of modern architecture has been accompanied by a dependence upon personifications, while the critique of modern architecture has been no less committed to the dismantling of personifications. These two poles-architecture as the embodiment of the architect and an architecture without architects-now function as the paired limits of disciplinary definition. This seminar will use the life and career of Philip Johnson as a case study in investigating the personifications of modernism. Johnson is ideally suited for such an examination: his life and career neatly span the arc of modernism; he participated in key events, movements, and transformations of modern architecture; and he was highly skilled in self-fashioning. The central aim of the seminar will be to examine the relation between Philip Johnson\’s persona and Philip Johnson\’s architecture in order to conceptualize a space between his persona and his architecture.Weekly seminar meetings will develop a historical understanding of Philip Johnson and analytical knowledge of his architecture, and semester-long research work will be directed toward creating historical and theoretical acts situated in the space between persona and work.