Philip Johnson was a polymath, he understood the ‘poetics of space’ – a sensibility that surrounds a fair amount of art theory today.  He applied all of his knowledge to a site in Connecticut that grew from five acres to forty-nine over the course of five decades.  He was a master of hide and seek, the big reveal, the Aha! moment, a lover of all things dramatic in nature and architecture.  He was able to meld the two in New Canaan, integrating a terminal moraine into a sight for experimentation, investigating both landscape and architecture.  The entire program is moving in spirit and intellect, let alone its indebtedness to beauty.  Johnson’s monkish subtraction of anything extraneous flatters the modern, material imagination.  It is pure magic.

Scott Massey wrote in e-flux, “The philosopher Gaston Bachelard drew a distinction between the formal and material imagination, both of which were to be found in nature as well as the mind. The formal imagination in nature creates all the unnecessary beauty it contains, while in the mind it is fond of novelty and unexpectedness in events. The material imagination in nature aims at producing that which is primitive and eternal, and in the mind is attracted to elements of permanency.”

The Sculpture Gallery with two figurative works by John Chamberlain and George Segal.
Looking down towards the pond with The Pavilion and the Monument to Lincoln Kerstein.