Glass House hosts 'Veil,' a poem in fog and glass

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2014 at 9:19 am •  Published: April 30, 2014

NEW CANAAN, Conn. (AP) — The Glass House, architect Philip Johnson's iconic Modernist structure set in the woods here, has been wrapped in a poetic fog by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, a sort of Christo of mist.

Like the glass structure itself, Nakaya's "Veil" installation plays on the transparent and opaque, the permanent and ephemeral.

"I'm making an invisible natural phenomenon visible," explained the Tokyo-based artist. "Usually, you ignore all the dynamics in the air. People go around the world to view an eclipse so they can experience a natural phenomenon that usually can't be seen. But you don't have to go that far."

Dense fog gushes forth from 600 specially designed nozzles around the Glass House for around 10 minutes at a time. Using meteorological studies of the site, Nakaya carefully timed and calibrated the nozzles to maximize the visual effects of wind, humidity and air pressure.

For about half an hour, the thick mist dances gently around and over the house, sometimes enveloping it completely. At times, the mist cascades into the wooded valley below, and at times it floats up toward the hillside above, making parts of the house and landscape briefly disappear while usually invisible atmospheric forces come into focus.

"Johnson's interest in the balance of opposites is evident throughout the Glass House campus. With Nakaya's temporary installation, we carry this sensibility to its endpoint while allowing the unique magic of the Glass House — the dream of transparency, an architecture that vanishes — to return again and again as the fog rises and falls," said Glass House director Henry Urbach.

The installation, about an hour's train ride north of New York City, is open to the public from May 1 to November 30. It is part of a larger effort by Urbach, who was architecture curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art before taking the helm of the Glass House in 2012, to foster new interpretations of the historic site.

Other new initiatives include overnights in the Glass House; performances, readings and art exhibitions on the grounds; self-guided tours; and commissioned works, such as this one, that engage the house itself.

Johnson's home in New Canaan, a village including almost 100 important Modernist structures, was a center of art and architecture, particularly during the '50s and '60s. Built in 1949, the Glass House was home to Johnson and his partner, art dealer David Whitney, until 2005.

Johnson was the first curator of the Museum of Modern Art's architecture department, and a friend and associate of Alfred Barr, the founding director of MoMA. Cutting-edge artworks and architectural concepts were often debuted at the Glass House before being exhibited in Manhattan.

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