L'Officiel Art

An Intimate Tour of Philip Johnson's Glass House

Artists Dana Veraldi and Sam Hayes captured the sublime beauty of his sculptural masterpiece, exclusively for L'Officiel USA.
Reading time 4 minutes

Photography by Dana Veraldi and Sam Hayes

When Philip Johnson designed The Glass House and its surrounding structures, there was no telling of the architectural and artistic phenomenon that it would later become. Inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House (another famed, almost wholly glass structure), Johnson went on to recreate the house for his own estate in Connecticut.

Sitting on the crest of a hill, and accompanied by a studio, a pond, a pool, a sculpture gallery, among other structures, The Glass House became famous for its use of clarity, reflection, and natural light. Johnson actually lived in it and used the closely-located Brick House as a guesthouse for those wishing to stay on the property.

Roughly 69 years later, the milestone figure in minimalist and modernist architectural styles still holds just as much aesthetic appeal. And as Johnson died in 2005 at the age of 98, the house is now a historical landmark that offers guided tours of the grounds when available. 

Dana Veraldi, the contemporary artist behind the DEERDANA pop icon sketch tees, took the touring into her own hands and ran around the estate to take pictures with filmmaker Sam Hayes. Having offered their own artistic perspectives on the ground’s naturalist-cum-modernist vibe, their contemporary eyes brings a fresh twist to the classic example of American modernism.

Ahead, see their commentary, and take in the crystal-clear beauty of Johnson's masterpiece.

The Painting Gallery (1965)

The Painting Gallery (1965)

An underground gallery Austere designed specifically for viewing paintings under controlled temperature and lighting conditions. Johnson said, "There’s no gallery in the world," that he knows of with movable walls like a postal card rack and designed to show a maximum of six paintings at any given time.

Da Monsta (1995)

Johnson felt like the building had qualities of a living thing. It is Inspired by a museum in Dresden designed by Frank Stella.

Sculpture Gallery (1970)

Sculpture Gallery (1970)

The Sculpture Gallery design is based on Greek islands and their many staircases. Johnson remarked that in these villages, “Every street is a staircase to somewhere.” 

Studio (1980)

Created predominately for work and contemplation, like an "air conditioned monk's cell," the studio features one window, a skylight, and a variety of books.

Studio Work Desk (1980)

"Sharpening pencils is excellent. It’s too bad we use automatic sharpeners now because they make it easy; it should be very difficult and you learn how to do it with your knife. Mies van der Rohe wouldn’t allow pencil sharpeners in the office, no sir." —Philip Johnson

"I claim that’s the only house in the world where you can see the sunset and the moonrise at the same time, standing in the same place." Philip Johnson

 The Glass House Interior (1949)

A pencil cactus has milky white latex sap that is released when the plant is injured. This sap can be irritating to some and hard to remove even with soap. If there is eye contact, blindness can occur. Ingestion of the sap can be fatal.

Pavilion on the Pond (1962)

This structure is a trompe l'oiel on a three-quarter scale is so small that a tall person cannot stand inside. The Pavilion's scaled down size plays with the viewer's sense of perspective, making it seem further away than it actually is. 

"If you step on an island you’re cut off from the world and you create your own world." —Philip Johnson

Monument to Lincoln Kirstein (1985)

Designed for poet, playwright and arts patron Lincoln Kirstein, this structure looks like a staircase to nowhere. 

Ghost House (1984)

This iconic form of a house is not a functional shelter and is surrounded by poison ivy so no one can go near it. Johnson described this construction as "the spirit of a classical house."

The Pool (1955)

Johnson identifies the pool as a sculpture to avoid legally having to surround it with a fence.

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