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Wednesday, January 26, 2005


PHILIP JOHNSON, ELDER STATESMAN OF U.S. ARCHITECTURE, DIES AT 98 



[NYT]: Philip Johnson, at once the elder statesman and the enfant terrible of American architecture, died yesterday at the Glass House, the celebrated estate he built for himself in New Canaan, Conn., said David Whitney, his companion of 45 years. He was 98 years old.

Often considered the dean of American architects, Mr. Johnson was known less for his individual buildings than for the sheer force of his presence on the architectural scene, which he served as a combination godfather, gadfly, scholar, patron, critic, curator and cheerleader. His 90th birthday, in July 1996, was marked by symposiums, lectures, an outpouring of essays in his honor and back-to-back dinners at two venerable New York institutions he had played a major role in creating: the Museum of Modern Art, whose department of architecture and design he joined in 1930, and the Four Seasons Restaurant, which he designed as part of the Seagram Building in 1958.

Mr. Johnson was the first winner of the Pritzker Prize, the $100,000 award established in 1979 by the Pritzker family of Chicago to honor an architect of international stature. In 1978, he won the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the highest award the American architectural profession bestows on any of its members.

His long career was a study in contradictions. For all his honors, Mr. Johnson was in some ways always an outsider in his profession. His own architecture received mixed reviews, and frequently startled both the public and his fellow architects. The style of his work changed frequently, and he was often accused of pandering to fashion and designing buildings that were facile and shallow.

Yet he created several buildings, including the Glass House, the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, that are widely considered among the architectural masterworks of the 20th century, and for his entire career he maintained an involvement with architectural theory and ideas as deep as that of any scholar.
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That phase of Mr. Johnson's career included such well-known monuments as the classically detailed pink granite AT& T Building (now the Sony Building) on Madison Avenue, which he completed in 1983 with John Burgee, then his partner; the Republic Bank Tower (now NCNB Center) in Houston, which used elements of Flemish Renaissance architecture; the Transco Tower in Houston, which recapitulated the setback forms of a romantic 1920's tower in glass, perhaps his finest skyscraper; and the PPG Center in Pittsburgh, a reflective glass tower whose Gothic form copied the shape of the tower of the Houses of Parliament in London.



Glass House
1949
New Canaan, Connecticut
Philip Johnson
1979 Pritzker Prize Laureate

[BLOOMBERG]: Johnson was born in Cleveland, on July 8, 1906, to Homer, an attorney, and Louise Pope Johnson. After attending Harvard College, he traveled to Italy, Greece and Egypt and was mesmerized by important pieces of architecture, often moving him to tears. He said the Parthenon gave him a ``call'' to architecture.

His friend Alfred Barr named Johnson curator of the architecture department at the new Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan in the 1930s. With Hitchcock, Johnson toured Europe, studying modernist architecture.

In 1932, Johnson coordinated ``Modern Architecture,'' probably the most influential 20th century architecture exhibit. The exhibit and the subsequent book ``The International Style,'' introduced simple European avant-garde modern architecture to the U.S. and influenced the construction of tall, boxy glass and steel buildings.



AT&T Headquarters (Now the Sony Building), 1958
560 Madison Avenue (at 56th Street)
New York, NY
Philip Johnson
1979 Pritzker Prize Laureate
"Philip Johnson's design for the AT&T Headquarters (now the Sony Building) in New York City was the most controversial of his career. This otherwise sleek skyscraper, built in the International Style, was adorned with a baroque pediment that was scornfully described as the "Chippendale" top. Today, the AT&T Headquarters is often cited as a masterpiece of postmodernism."

[CNN]: In the 1950s, Johnson reflected on his career and what he hoped to achieve. "I like the thought that what we are to do on this earth is embellish it for its greater beauty," he said, "so that oncoming generations can look back to the shapes we leave here and get the same thrill that I get in looking back at theirs -- at the Parthenon, at Chartres Cathedral."



Lipstick Building
885 Third Avenue (at 53rd Street)
New York City




The New York Times -- Arts > Art & Design > Philip Johnson, Elder Statesman of U.S. Architecture, Dies at 98

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GWB OR JFK? AN INAUGURAL TWIST 



Last week, President George W. Bush spoke with powerful tones in his "Liberty Bell" inauguration speech. Liberals from San Francisco to New York to Paris howled in protest and derided the president's grandiose words. Bush has been constantly attacked for being some sort of planetary plague even though he's known for speaking 3 hallmark words, "God" "freedom" and "liberty."

Here are some of the words that President Bush uttered last week and how liberals reacted to the president's inauguration speech.

Bush: The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

Liberals: There he goes again, talking about God. It's only the 2nd paragraph and he's talking about how the "hand of God" gives us our rights.

Bush: Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Liberals: Oh, man. Does this guy love war, or what? Whatever happened to diplomacy? That statement lacks nuance. This kind of tough talk is going to embolden our enemies.

Bush: To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom--and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

Liberals: He has some nerve telling other countries how to operate. This is why America is hated around the world. An arrogant president should not be lecturing our allies.

Bush: Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

Liberals: How could he say something like that? He's threatening "evil-doers" with another war. He makes too much of a big deal about weapons of mass destruction.

Bush: Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms--and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations... Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah--to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the oppressed go free."

Liberals: Another religous reference, oh brother. His religious piety makes him unfit for office. We can not have a president engage in biblical talk and apocalyptic thinking.

Bush: All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

Liberals: He said we can't win the "War on Terror!" Did you see that? He has no plan, no vision and no exit strategy. This sounds like a quagmire we can't get out of.

Bush: In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Liberals: Well, this generation shouldn't do anything. We should leave the terrorists alone. Before we attacked Iraq, those terrorists were peace-loving, law-abiding, productive citizens of the world.

Bush: In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it.

Liberals: There he goes with that crazy cowboy talk, again. He is just itching for a fight. He has no right to be talking about defending freedom when he was the one who attacked the duly elected Saddam Hussein and the popular Taliban.

Bush: And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

Liberals: Wait a minute, this sounds familiar.

Bush: Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

Liberals: Phew, it's over. But that last paragraph has got to be the most galling, arrogant, obnoxious part of the whole speech. America is so hypocritical, it doesn't even meet its "high standards", look what happened at Abu Ghraib. The reference to "God's work" is an indication that religious views will have a disturbingly high influence in the White House. The president's religious references are harbingers of disaster for our country. This is the worst speech, ever.



Surprise, surprise. The preceding speech was given by none other than the modern-day liberals' favorite president, John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy spoke of America's promise to the world that we would do whatever it takes to help our friends pursue and achieve freedom. Bush, like Kennedy, echoed the sentiments of generations of people who have fought to be free and live with dignity. Today's liberals should take a hard look and compare the inaugural speeches of 1961 and 2005. Both presidents spoke in eloquent terms on how America is the beacon of light and standard bearer for all who desire to live in freedom. Both President Kennedy and President Bush understood that a humble America seeking God's help is the best America possible.

Now, check out highlights of what President Bush said last week and think to yourself what kind of reaction this speech would have received if it were given by President Kennedy.

Bush: We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.
[...]
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary.
[...]
The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it.
[..]
My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people from further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America’s resolve, and have found it firm.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.
[...]
Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens: From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon.
[...]
America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home—the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.
[...]
We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul.
[...]
When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, “It rang as if it meant something.” In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength—tested, but not weary—we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.


Update:
Check out the Antiprotestor Journal, Noahware and Blogs for Bush.

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