A GAY OLD TIME

The Glass House celebrates its 70th anniversary with retrospective of gay artists

Art East On View Other
Gay Gatherings explores the untold history of Philip Johnson’s Glass House, which served as a retreat for eight of the 20th century’s most culturally influential gay men. (David McCabe/Courtesy The Glass House)
Gay Gatherings explores the untold history of Philip Johnson’s Glass House, which served as a retreat for eight of the 20th century’s most culturally influential gay men. (David McCabe/Courtesy The Glass House)

Gay Gatherings: Philip Johnson, David Whitney, and the Modern Arts, now on view at Philip Johnson’s Glass House, explores the untold history of the iconic home, which served as a retreat for eight of the 20th century’s most culturally influential gay men.

The exhibition coincides with the 70th birthday of the Glass House and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising—a pivotal moment in the gay rights movement. Its subjects include the home’s architect, Philip Johnson, and his partner of 45 years, art collector David Whitney, as well as six of their favorite guests: composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, producer Lincoln Kirstein, and artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol.

“As gay men,” explained Donald Albrecht, who curated the show alongside Thomas Mellins, “they presided over an intellectually adventurous site during a period when the artistic contributions of gay men were prevalent and increasingly acknowledged within mainstream culture.”

Gay Gatherings occupies two locations on the historic Johnson estate—the Frank Gehry–inspired Da Monsta building and the subterranean Painting Gallery. Inside, the working and personal relationships of the men are revealed through artworks, writings, photographs, postcards, and a digital presentation, created specifically for the show by Pure + Applied.

Visitors are also encouraged to explore the bucolic grounds, guided by maps that detail where interactions between the famed guests took place. The landscape, which served as Johnson’s laboratory for 56 years, is peppered with his sculptures and architectural follies, including a towering monument to Kirstein, who died in 1996.

Gay Gatherings: Philip Johnson, David Whitney, and the Modern Arts is on view at the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, now through August 15. More information on the show can be found here.

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