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The iconic Four Seasons Restaurant explores two architectural gems- the Glass House and the Farnsworth House

If you haven’t been to the storied Four Seasons Restaurant, now is yet another excuse other than their impeccably delicious lunch special. A new photo exhibition, which will be on display June 22nd to September 20th, celebrates another two modernist favorites- Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. Photographed by Robin Hill, the images explore the similarities and differences of these two feats of architecture. (If you haven’t been to the Glass House, it is worth a little journey to Connecticut). Hill’s photos juxtapose the two architectural gems in diptych format, allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions from the epic residences.

'Dyptych two' 30 x 60 c prints in plexi Robin Hill (c)

“Side by Side,” an exhibition of photographs by Robin Hill that explores the similarities and differences between Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, will be on view at the Four Seasons Restaurant from June 22-September 20, 2015. Curated by Hilary Lewis, the exhibition, comprised of five diptychs, will be open to the public during the restaurant’s regular lunch and dinner hours. “Side by Side” will travel to the Farnsworth House’s Visitor Center in Plano, Illinois at a later date.

'Dyptych five' 36 x 72 c prints in plexi Robin Hill (c)

Johnson’s Glass House and Mies’s Farnsworth House are two of the best-known works of midcentury modern architecture in America. Designed and built at nearly the same time the two have great similarities, yet significant differences that speak to the preferences and aesthetics of the two architectural figures that designed them.
Johnson and Mies have been connected since they first met at Germany’s Bauhaus, the famed school of architecture and design in Dessau. It’s clear that Johnson was no stranger to the work and ideas of Mies. When Johnson chose to build a home in Connecticut in the late 1940s, unsurprisingly he did so using a vocabulary that seems to come straight from the German master. To many, it appeared that Johnson simply jumped the gun on a specific design by Mies – that of the Farnsworth House, which had already been designed, but not yet built. To many admirers of Mies, Johnson had copied the design…and gotten it wrong.
'Dyptych three' 30 x 60 c prints in plexi Robin Hill (c)
“I thought the building was just a rip-off of Mies – of course it isn’t,” said Philip Johnson. “Mies’s was a floating thing, a beautiful rhythm. Mine was a clunky thing that sits on the ground. But I wanted it to sit on the ground. Mine became…an American house, you step one step out and into nature. Mies’s was like Le Corbusier — anti-nature. I was like Frank Lloyd Wright. Nature to Wright was fields, wetlands and wild bushes. Nature to Emerson also was kept nature. My house is a house in the field.” [quoted in Hilary Lewis and John O’Connor, Philip Johnson: The Architect in His Own Words
“Side by Side” will examine this departure in design and present the result for viewers to consider. Hill’s images pair similar shots of the two houses framed together.  At first glance, these are both glass boxes that sit in fields; but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The dialogue between each house and its natural surroundings is at the heart of how each of these architects took their designs in separate directions and speaks to the way in which European modernism was adapted to American conditions.
About Robin Hill
Robin Hill is both an architectural and fine art photographer based in Miami. His work on the Glass House has been published widely. An exhibition of his Glass House images was on view at the Coral Gables Museum in 2013. Much of his work focuses on Historic Preservation and his photos of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Florida Southern College were included in the Guggenheim’s exhibition; Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward in 2009.
About Hilary Lewis
Hilary Lewis has written, lectured and curated exhibitions about Philip Johnson for over 20 years. She is the co-author of Philip Johnson: The Architect in His is Own Words and The Architecture of Philip Johnson. She has collaborated frequently with Robin Hill.
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