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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Material
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Philip Johnson papers
    Date (inclusive): 1908-2002 (bulk 1925-1998)
    Number: 980060
    Creator/Collector: Johnson, Philip
    Physical Description: 38 Linear Feet (65 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Documentation of the early and later career of architect Philip Johnson, especially representative of his early work, particularly his Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, and a number of little known, never constructed projects. The collection consists of photographs, printed and audiovisual materials, clippings, correspondence, legal documents, and manuscripts.
    Request Materials: To access physical materials on site, go to the library catalog record   for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Philip Johnson is one of the most prominent and outspoken architects of the post-World War II era. During his long career from the 1940s until the present, Johnson has been a major participant in the architectural debate of his time and has contributed to all major architectural movements during those years. He started as a follower of Mies van der Rohe's most austere modernism, broke with this trend to design in a more "humane" modernistic vocabulary, and was one of the leaders of postmodernism during the 1980s. In his 90s Johnson has designed and built structures that show his interest in the deconstructivist idiom.
    Born in 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio, Johnson became interested in the critical study of architecture through frequent trips to Europe. In 1930, after receiving a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Harvard University, he went to work for the newly established Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he founded and directed its Department of Architecture, the first museum-affiliated program in the United States devoted to the study of architecture as art. Before returning to Harvard in 1940 to earn an architecture degree, Johnson spent six years as a political radical working for the right-wing publication Social Justice and co-founding the Young Nationalists movement.
    As an architect, Johnson played a pivotal role in three international movements: modernism, postmodernism, and deconstructivism. Indeed, the Museum of Modern Art's 1932 landmark exhibition "The International Style", a collaborative effort between Johnson and architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock, was the first official American forum to recognize and codify the modernist movement in architecture. Stressing function over form, this then-revolutionary style made famous by such European masters as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier became the new paradigm for American architecture under Johnson's tutelage. Many of Johnson's early works have become exemplars of modernist architecture, particularly Johnson's own Glass House (1949) and the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York (1959).
    In 1967, Johnson began a partnership with John Burgee that culminated in the construction of Johnson's most publicly celebrated building after the Glass House: the AT&T Corporate Headquarters in New York (1978). Adorned with nonfunctional design elements, the AT&T building embraced the post-modernist movement in architecture centered around the revival of historic styles.
    At the age of 82, Johnson once again changed the dialogue of contemporary architecture with the Museum of Modern Art's 1988 exhibition "Deconstructivist Architecture" (with Mark Wigley). Linking the works of such architects as Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, and Peter Eisenman to the style of Russian constructivist painters, the exhibition fostered much critical acclaim and critical debate. Johnson continued to further the cause of deconstructivist architecture through the adoption of a new, anti-geometric style of design - a style best exemplified by his Visitors Center in New Canaan, Connecticut.
    The first recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Johnson has been recognized not only as one of the most influential architects of his generation but also as one of the most influential teachers of the next generation of architects. He died in 2005.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers. Audio visual materials in Series IX are not available until reformatting is complete.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Philip Johnson Papers, 1908-2002, bulk 1925-1998, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 980060.

    Acquisition Information

    Papers donated by Philip Johnson, through David Whitney, in 1998 and 1999. Additions received in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006.

    Processing History

    Processed, arranged, and rehoused by Andrew Shtulman. Additions to the collection -- gifts from Johnson and David Whitney -- made in 2001, 2002, 2003 have been integrated into the archive and described in this finding aid as of 2007 Apr 21. Five boxes that hold material donated by David Whitney in 2006 have not yet been processed or integrated into the archive. They are numbered ADDS4 - Boxes 1-5.

    Related Material

    Other Johnson papers are held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Avery Library, Columbia University. Drawings for the high-rise buildings of the 1980s, designed with his partner John Burgee, are in private hands.

    Separated Material

    45 books were separated from the archive to the Getty Research Library's holdings:
    American Association of Architectural Bibliographers, eds. Papers, vol. 1-2. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1965. Atkins, W. W. & Adler, J. Interior Book of Restaurants . New York, NY: Whitney Library of Design, 1960. Ball, V. K. Architecture and Interior Design. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1980. Bernier, R. & Bernier, G., eds. The Best in 20th Century Architecture. New York, NY: Reynal & Company, Inc., 1964. Blake, P. Philip Johnson. Boston, MA: Birkhauser Verlag, 1996. Brady, S. & Holmes, A. Presence, The Transco Tower . Houston, TX: Herring Press, Inc., 1985. Chossegros, P. Maisons méditerranéennes, Cote d'Azur et Provence . Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Gustavo Gili, 1991. Creighton, T. The Architecture of Monuments: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Competition . New York, NY: Reinhold Publishing Company, 1962. Diamonstein, B. Inside New York's Art World. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, 1979. Dupre, J. Skyscrapers. New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1996. FCC Construccion, Comylsa Empresa Constructora, Construcciones San Martin, eds. Peurta de Europa. Madrid, Spain: Graficas Marte, 1995. Ferrari North America, eds. Ferrari at Monterey. Milano, Italy: Automobilia, 1994. Ford, J. Design of Modern Interiors . New York, NY: Architectural Book Publishing Company, 1942. Freedman, J. L. Introductory Psychology. New York, NY: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1978. Gill, B. Late Bloomers . New York, NY: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 1996. Ginzburg, R. I Shot New York. New York, NY: Harry Abrahams, 1999. Henselmann, H. Ich Habe Vorschläge Gemacht. Berlin, Germany: Ernst & Sohn, 1995. Hitchcock, H. R. & Johnson, P. The International Style, 3rd edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1995. Jacobus, J. M. Philip Johnson. New York, NY: G. Braziller, 1992. Johnson, P. Philip Johnson / Architecture 1949-1965 . New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966. Johnson, P. Philip Johnson Writings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1979. Johnson, P. Texte zur Architektur . Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1982. Karsh, Y. Karsh: American Legends. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company, 1992. Kidder-Smith, G. E. The New Churches of Europe . New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964. Kipnis, J. Philip Johnson: Recent Work. London, England: Academy Editions, 1996. Knight, C., ed. Philip Johnson / John Burgee: Architecture 1979-1985 . New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, 1985. Krichbaum, J. 4. Internationales Architektur-Forum in Dessau: Tradition und Visionen . Germany: Edition Arcum, Koln und den Autoren, 1995. Langsam, W. E. Great Houses of the Queen City . Cincinnati, OH: The Cincinnati Historical Society, 1997. Lewis, H. & O'Connor, J. Philip Johnson: The Architect in His Own Words . New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, 1994. Mariani, J. & Von Bidder, A. The Four Seasons: A History of America's Premier Restaurant . New York, NY: Random House, 1994. McLanathan, R. B. K. The American Tradition in the Arts . New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968. Miller, N. Johnson/Burgee: Architecture. New York, NY: Random House, 1979. Nakamura, T. Reflecting: Philip Johnson's Glass House . Japan: Tadahiro Yoshido, 1998? National Central Museum of Korea. International Architectural Competition for the New National Museum of Korea . Seoul, Korea: Ki Moon Dang, 1995. Norwich, J. J., ed. Great Architecture of the World. London, England: Mitchell Beazley, 1975. Oue, H. & Naibu, A. Contemporary Architecture Series: P hilip Johnson . Japan: Bijutsu Shuppan-sha, 1968? Peter, J. Masters of Modern Architecture. New York, NY: G. Braziller, 1958. Price, J. Executive Style: Achieving Success through Good Taste and Design . New York, NY: The Linden Press / Simon & Schuster, 1980. Rosenthal, R. & Toy, M., eds. Building Sights. London, England: Academy Editions, 1995. Talmey, A., ed. People Are Talking about People and Things in Vogue . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969. Thorndike, J. J. The Magnificent Builders and Their Dream Houses . New York, NY: American Heritage Publishing Company, 1978. Uy, B. H. Drawings: Architecture & Leisure. Mt. Kisco, NY: Bon-Hui Uy, 1980. Watson, S. Prepare for Saints. New York, NY: Random House, 1999. Whitney, D. & Kipnis, J., eds. Philip Johnson, The Glass House. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 1993. Winter, J. Modern Buildings. London, England: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, 1969.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Philip Johnson papers (1908-2002) offer documentation of the early and later career of one of America's most influential architects, shedding light on Johnson's work not only as a designer, but also as a writer, a teacher, and a public figure.
    Approximately half of the collection is devoted to photographs of Johnson's drawings, his buildings, his friends, and his colleagues, and Johnson himself. The rest of the collection consists mainly of printed materials, though a limited number of medals and audiovisual materials are included. The greater part of the printed material consists of clippings and full-length publications about Johnson and his work. Also included are correspondence, legal documents, and manuscripts. Included in the correspondence files are letters Johnson wrote to his mother and family, 1925-1944. There are no drawings in the collection.
    Although the contents of this archive span nearly a century, there is little documentation of the designs from the middle of his career, 1967 to 1992, the period in which he designed numerous high-rise buildings with partner John Burgee. Instead, the collection centers on Johnson's early work, particularly his Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, and contains a number of little-known projects that were never constructed.
    Other Johnson papers are held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Avery Library, Columbia University. Drawings for the high-rise buildings of the 1980s, designed with his partner John Burgee, are in private hands.

    Arrangement note

    The papers are arranged in 9 series: ; Series I. Project files, 1940-1996; Series II. New Canaan estate files, 1945-1995; Series III. Professional documents, 1948-2000; Series IV. Personal documents, 1925-1998; Series V. Personal photographs, 1908-1998; Series VI. Honors and accolades, 1978-2002; Series VII. Writings by Johnson, 1931-2001; Series VIII. Published materials about Johnson, 1935-2001; Series IX. Computer disks, sound and video tapes, 1953-1995 Additions to the archive

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Johnson, Philip

    Subjects - Topics

    Architecture -- United States -- 20th century
    Architects -- United States -- Biography
    Glass House (New Canaan, Conn.)
    Architecture-Designs and plans
    Architectural practice -- United States
    Architects and patrons

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Magnetic disks
    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original


    Johnson, Philip