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Artists Ask MoMA to Remove Philip Johnson’s Name, Citing Racist Views

Artists Ask MoMA to Remove Philip Johnson’s Name, Citing Racist Views
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Artists Ask MoMA to Remove Philip Johnson’s Name, Citing Racist Views

Artists Ask MoMA to Take away Philip Johnson’s Title, Citing Racist Views

Philip Johnson was some of the influential architects of the previous century, chameleonic in every of his roles as a New York energy dealer, artwork collector and creator of his “Glass Home,” a celebrated landmark of modernist design in Connecticut.

He additionally championed racist and white supremacist viewpoints in his youthful years. Johnson’s Nazi sympathies, for instance, have been nicely documented, and he spent the years after World Battle II attempting to distance himself from them.

Now a bunch of greater than 30 outstanding artists, architects and lecturers are casting a lightweight on the extra unsavory a part of Johnson’s legacy, demanding in a letter revealed on-line on Nov. 27 that establishments such because the Museum of Fashionable Artwork and the Harvard Graduate College of Design take away the title of the architect, who died in 2005, from their areas.

“There’s a position for Johnson’s architectural work in archives and historic preservation,” the Johnson Examine Group, a largely nameless group of designers and designers, wrote within the letter. “Nonetheless, naming titles and areas inevitably means that the honoree is a mannequin for curators, directors, college students and others who take part in these establishments.”

The letter was signed by the up to date artist Xaviera Simmons; the panorama architect and MacArthur fellow Kate Orff; and V. Mitch McEwen, an assistant professor of structure at Princeton College, who’s amongst eight of the ten architects in an upcoming exhibition at MoMA — “Reconstructions: Structure and Blackness in America” — that’s slated to open Feb. 20.

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It cites Johnson’s “extensively documented” advocacy for white supremacist views, his try to discovered a fascist celebration in Louisiana, and failure to incorporate work by a single Black artist or designer in MoMA’s assortment throughout his tenure there. (He served in varied roles over six a long time.) The letter referred to as on any establishments utilizing his title to take away it.

“He not solely acquiesced in however added to the persistent follow of racism within the subject of structure,” the letter mentioned, “a legacy that continues to do hurt at this time.”

Johnson’s title has been on one of many exhibition galleries on the Museum of Fashionable Artwork, the place he served as its first head of structure and design, since 1984. His title can be included within the title of the museum’s chief curator of structure and design.

Johnson created buildings which are extensively thought of architectural masterpieces of the twentieth century, amongst them the MoMA sculpture backyard and the pavilion that homes pre-Columbian artwork on the Dumbarton Oaks property in Washington. Gadget Clock critic Paul Goldberger praised him as American structure’s “godfather, gadfly, scholar, patron, critic, curator, and cheerleader” in his obituary.

However in his youthful years, he brazenly admired Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” attended Nazi rallies in Germany and was investigated by the F.B.I. for his connections to the Nazi celebration. He rejected Nazism after the top of World Battle II.

Representatives from MoMA and Harvard didn’t instantly reply to requests for touch upon Thursday.

Ms. Orff, the panorama architect and MacArthur fellow, mentioned in an electronic mail on Thursday that eradicating Johnson’s title from the gallery and the curator place would characterize a major step in dismantling racism in design tradition.

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“Panorama structure is catching up in its evaluation of its personal legacy,” Ms. Orff mentioned. “To maneuver ahead with a extra imaginative, simply, and equitable tradition within the design fields, now we have to reckon with previous figures who set the bottom guidelines.”

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