July 8, 2016

Happy 110th Birthday, Philip Johnson!

Johnson’s Iconic Work, As Captured by Ezra Stoller

Boissonnas House, New Canaan, Connecticut (1956)

Boissonnas House, New Canaan, Connecticut (1956)

Today—Friday, July 8, 2016—marks the 110th anniversary of architect Philip Johnson’s birth, giving us a terrific reason to celebrate his singular vision. And we could think of no better way to showcase the work of "the dean of American architecture" than with the photographs of Ezra Stoller, known in parallel as the "dean of American architectural photography."

Here’s how Erica Stoller, Stoller’s daughter and director of Esto, the photo agency he founded, describes this pair’s working relationship:

"First meeting? Initial assignment? Anticipated use and licensing? I don't know. Here, although there may be a fog of history, the images illustrate the chain of events. And the job data provides more information and back-up.

Stoller was trained as an architect when Modernism was overtaking the Beaux-Arts movement. His sympathies and the point of view of that determined his images involved rational and functional design.

He photographed more than 50 projects by Philip Johnson, the first being the Ash Street House in Cambridge in 1944. I believe that assignment was commissioned by The Architectural Forum magazine rather than by Johnson himself. And Stoller and Johnson worked together for about 40 years thereafter, with images that helped shape the public perception of Midcentury Modern architecture in America. And it was Philip Johnson who is said to have coined the phrase about architecture being 'Stollerized,' given the stamp of approval for public perception and reproduction in the press.

Philip Johnson and Ezra Stoller were respectful colleagues for a long time. Friendly, but not exactly friends. Collaborators may be a better description. Architecture and photography were their points of contact."

Interested in seeing more images from Stoller and Johnson’s collaboration? Follow the Philip Johnson Glass House on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to catch their online exhibition. Plus, check out the hashtag ‪#‎pj110birthday to continue the celebration, and read more about Philip Johnson's fascinating life on Preservation Leadership Forum.

Julia Rocchi is the director of content marketing at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and gawks at buildings.


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