Monday, December 31, 2018

Philip Johnson and Donald Trump

From the NY Times book review:

...He and Trump needed each other: Trump wanted a famous name, and Johnson was desperate to stay in the game. Johnson produced a few lousy buildings for Trump, who probably didn’t know the difference; all he cared about was being able to claim that they were designed by Philip Johnson. And Johnson got to stay in the public eye.

The Trump chapter of Johnson’s long career seemed just a bizarre footnote when it happened in the 1990s. Now, it is a little harder to dismiss. 

Outwardly, the two men could not have been more different: Johnson could talk circles around anyone, and Trump is verbally inept. Johnson had contempt for Trump’s vulgarity and lack of intellectual curiosity, and Trump had no understanding of Johnson’s cultivation. 

The beautiful little study at the Glass House would have been a prison to Trump. But now that we know Trump as more than a real-estate developer, it is hard not to think back to Johnson’s infatuation with dictators, his snobbery, his obsession with being noticed, and wonder if they did not have a little more in common than it seemed back then.

[Mark]Lamster’s timing is excellent: He has written the story of Philip Johnson for the age of Donald Trump, and it makes us see a side of Johnson that is, at the very least, sobering. 

Johnson, like Trump, made himself impossible to ignore. Lamster’s most important contribution may be to show us that, however electrifying the ability to command the spotlight may be, it does not confer the lasting qualities of greatness.

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I'll be happy to vote for Warren, but then I'll be happy to vote for anyone nominated by the Democratic Party.

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