By PAUL LASTER, JUN. 2016
Celebrating the 110th anniversary of Philip Johnson’s birth and the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Glass House site to the public, supporters gathered last weekend for the annual summer party, a benefit to fund the Glass House programs and preservation projects.
Built between 1949 and 1995 by the venerable architect Philip Johnson, the Glass House is a National Trust Historic Site located in New Canaan, CT. The 49-acre landscape comprises 14 structures, including the Glass House, and features a permanent collection of 20th century painting and sculpture, along with short-term shows. The 2016 season features two temporary exhibitions: “Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden,” organized by Glass House curator and collections manager Irene Shum, and “Robert Rauschenberg: Spreads and Related Works," curated by David White from the Rauschenberg Foundation.
Comprised of 1,300 floating steel spheres, each approximately 12 inches in diameter, “Narcissus Garden” is installed in the pond of the lower meadow and forest. The reflective balls surround the “Pavilion in the Pond,” an architectural folly that Johnson designed in 1962 to explore ideas related to his commission for the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, which was realized two years later.
Kusama’s spheres hover around the concrete structure, dynamically reflecting the sky and surrounding landscape as they continuously drift, while on the hillside meadow—within view of the Glass House—one of the artist’s recent “Pumpkin” sculptures, which is also mirrored, invites viewers to consider the history of New Canaan’s former forests and farmlands.
The Rauschenberg show is centered on the 1980 painting “Recital (Spread),” which Johnson purchased that same year. Part of the “Spread” series (works composed of acrylic, solvent transferred imagery, collaged fabric and paper, colored and mirrored plastic and everyday objects on wood), the painting features a montage of colors, patterns and found photos, along with a working electric fan that’s mounted on its surface.
The succinct selection of works on view reference several of the Pop Art artist’s most important bodies of work, including the “Combines,” “Cardboards,” “Hoarfrost” and “Jammers” series. Two works from the 1979 “Slider” series, which mixes fabric collage with solvent transferred images on paper, complete the sublime exhibition.
As the afternoon rain ceased and the sun broke through the clouds, guests lunched on a picnic meal prepared by The Schoolhouse at Cannondale and made celebratory toasts with Taittinger champagne before exploring the adventurous estate and playing lawn games, while simultaneously being entertained by impromptu performances Chez Conversations and a lively DJ mix by Mia Moretti, one of the female art collective’s members WM
Paul Laster is a writer, editor, curator, artist and lecturer. He’s a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was the founding editor of Artkrush, started The Daily Beast’s art section, and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld Magazine, as well as a curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.
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