Category Archives: MUSEUMS

Hot Spot: The New Pérez Art Museum Miami

I can’t wait to visit the stunning new Pérez Art Museum Miami, located in a downtown park overlooking Biscayne Bay. Designed by Swiss starchitects Herzog & de Meuron, the three-story, 200,000-square-foot museum focuses on 20th century and contemporary art, as well as cultures of the Atlantic Rim, which it defines as the Americas, Western Europe, and Africa. The pavilion-like structure has deep, shaded verandas with native tropical plants that hang from the canopy like long green columns. Judging from photographs and early reports, the dramatic yet light-and-airy museum promises to become a major Miami destination.

A bay view rendering of the Pérez Art Museum Miami designed by Herzog & de Meuron

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the new Pérez Art Museum Miami is a three-story pavilion surrounded by deep verandas overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Perez Art Museum Miami north facade veranda with hanging gardens, photograph by Iwan Baan

 PAMM’s verandas include hanging gardens, designed by the French artist and botanist Patrick Blanc, where native tropical plants are suspended from the canopy like long green columns. Photograph by Iwan Baan

A gallery in the new Perez Art Museum Miami by Herzog & de Meuron. Photograph by Iwan Baan

A gallery at PAMM. Photograph by Iwan Baan 

Gallery window seating at PAMM with a view over Biscayne Bay.Potograph by Iwan Baan

Gallery window seating at PAMM with a view over Biscayne Bay. Photograph by Iwan Baan

 

Home Study: Our Favorite American Landmarked Residences and Historic House Museums, Part II

Last week, Scott BromleyJerry Caldari, and Tim Button shared their favorite American historic house museums and landmarked residences. Here are Laura Bohn, Barry Goralnick, and Bruce Bierman‘s picks.

LAURA BOHN: I fell in love with The Mount, novelist Edith Wharton’s summer residence in Lenox, Massachusetts, right at the front door. It’s simple and unassuming, as is the grotto-like entry hall, which lacks a grand staircase—an indispensable prop for most great lady hostesses of the time, who’d sweep down it in Gilded Age magnificence to greet arriving guests. Instead, visitors were taken to a side hall and led up a graceful but unpretentious staircase to the second floor—the piano nobile, as in an Italian palazzo—where Wharton would receive them in a long, light-filled gallery. But it was only when they were ushered into the adjoining drawing room with its gobsmacking views of the Mount’s fabulous gardens that the full glory of the house revealed itself.

The Mount, Lennox, MA Edith Wharton's summer home

The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts, Edith Wharton’s summer residence, which she co-designed and built in 1902 and occupied until she moved to Europe in 1911. Photograph: Kevin Sprague

Wharton designed the 1902 house in collaboration with architect Ogden Codman, Jr., her co-author on The Decoration of Housesa pioneering 1897 book aimed at showing the taste-deficient American nouveau riche how to create classically restrained, timelessly elegant homes. (It’s still in print and could be consulted with profit by some of today’s 1 percent.) Wharton and Codman followed their own principles at the Mount, producing a house of such self-possessed distinction—grand but not grandiose—that it was landmarked in 1971.

Wharton designed most of the grounds herself: ”I am amazed by the success of my efforts,” she wrote with justifiable pride. “Decidedly, I’m a better landscape gardener than a novelist, and this place, every line of which is my own work, far surpasses The House of Mirth.” Looking at the beautifully maintained estate today, it’s doesn’t seem such an off-base claim.

The Mount, Lenox, MA, second floor gallery

The light-filled second floor reception gallery at the Mount. Photograph: Janet Knott

The Mount, Edith Wharton's summer house, Lenox, MA, the drawing room

The drawing room’s French doors open onto an expansive raised stone terrace overlooking the landscaped grounds, which Wharton designed expertly herself. Photograph: Kevin Sprague

Edith Wharton's boudoir at the Mount, her summer house in Lenox, MA , photograph by John Seakwood

Edith Wharton’s boudoir on the third floor. Photograph: John Seakwood

The staircase from the main terrace to the garden at the Mount, Edith Wharton's summer house in Lenox, MA, photographed by Annie Leibowitz for Vogue

In a Vogue fashion spread, model Natalia Vodianova plays Edith Wharton descending the double staircase from the main terrace to the garden. Photograph: Annie Leibowitz

BARRY GORALNICK: Fallingwater, the weekend retreat at Mill Run, Pennsylvania, that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the Kaufmann family in 1937, became super-famous almost immediately. In 1938 it made the cover of Time magazine, was featured in Life, got star billing in an issue of Architectural Forum devoted entirely to Wright, and appeared in countless newspapers and periodicals worldwide. It has never since lost its position as a preeminent icon of 20th-century architecture. 

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater, Kaufmann Residence, 1937

Probably the most famous 20th-century house in the world, Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1937 weekend retreat for the Kaufmann family, cantilevers out over Bear Run creek in rural Pennsylvania. 

Given to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966, Fallingwater is now the only Wright house open to the public with all its original elements in place. Although its location is somewhat remote, Fallingwater is an essential destination for anyone interested in architecture. Smithsonian magazine included it in a list of “28 places to see before you die,” right up there with the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Great Wall.

The way Wright perfectly integrated his dynamic composition of concrete horizontals and stone verticals into the wild romantic landscape has to be seen to be believed. In the end, no photography, video, or description can do more than dimly evoke the extraordinary imaginative achievement the house embodies—you just have to experience it for yourself. It’s a wonder of the modern world that absolutely lives up to its billing.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater, Kaufmann Residence, 1937,

To help integrate the house into the natural landscape, Wright limited its paint palette to ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel elements.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater, 1937, Mr. Kaufmann's terrace, as viewed from the driveway above the house.

The massive vertical core of the house, around which the horizontal concrete elements are arranged, is made of native Pottsville sandstone, quarried on site and stacked like layers of sedimentary rock.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater, Kaufmann Residence, 1937, interior

The seating in the living area, upholstered in Jack Lenor Larsen fabrics, is among the 169 pieces of preserved custom furniture Wright designed for the house—a trove far bigger than that at any other of his residences.

BRUCE BIERMAN: Ever since it opened in 2001, the exquisite Neue Galerie New York has been my favorite house museum. Devoted to early 20th-century German and Austrian art and design, it’s located at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street in the former William Starr Miller mansion, a superb six-story Louis XIII-style townhouse completed in 1914 by Beaux-Arts architects Carrère & Hastings. In 1994 it was purchased by art dealer and exhibition organizer Serge Sabarsky (1912–1996) and his friend cosmetics billionaire Ronald S. Lauder—both connoisseurs of German and Austrian Expressionism—who commissioned Seldorf Architects to renovate the building and convert it into a museum.

Neue Galerie New York, 1048 Fifth Avenue, at 86th Street

The Neue Galerie New York, a museum devoted to early 20th-century German and Austrian art and design, is located at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street in the former William Starr Miller mansion, completed in 1914 by Carrère & Hastings. 

The Neue Galerie is particularly successful for the way in which it juxtaposes paintings and decorative arts to immerse viewers and transport them back in time. The second floor houses fine and decorative Viennese art, including paintings by Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele and objects by the artisans of the Wiener Werkstätte. The third floor exhibits various German works from the same era, including Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and the Bauhaus.

The museum also regularly mounts acclaimed exhibitions—such as the current “Vasily Kandinsky: From Blaue Reiter to the Bahaus, 1910–1925—chamber music concerts, film screenings, and even cabaret evenings. Plus there’s the terrific Café Sabarsky, with its reproductions of Josef Hoffmann sconces, Adolf Loos bentwood chairs, Otto Wagner fabrics,not to mention its excellent Viennese specialties like sausages, goulash, strudels, and chocolate tortes. 

Neue Galerie New York, entry and main staircase

The entry and main staircase at the Neue Gallerie New York, whose interiors were renovated and converted by Selldorf Architects.

Neue Galerie New York, a gallery on the second floor

A trio of paintings by Gustav Klimt dominates a second floor gallery where they were installed as part of the 2011 Neue Galerie exhibition “Vienna 1900: Style and Identity.” 

Josef Hoffmann's 1913 dining room for Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler, at the Neue Galerie. Photo- John Gilliland:Courtesy of Neue Galerie

A dining room designed by Josef Hoffmann for Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler, as installed in the 2006 Neue Galerie exhibition “Josef Hoffmann: Interiors, 1902-1913.” Photograph: John Gilliland.

 

Home Study: Our Favorite American Landmarked Residences and Historic House Museums, Part I

The US has an abundance of landmarked residential buildings and historic house museums. Modest or grand, simple or complex, they embody some of the most characterful architecture and design of their respective eras. Here are Scott BromleyJerry Caldari, and Tim Button‘s favorite American historic houses; Bruce Bierman, Laura Bohn, and Barry Goralnick‘s picks follow next week.

SCOTT BROMLEY: For me, the ultimate New York City pied-à-terre is the landmarked jewel box on East 52nd Street that architect Philip Johnson completed in 1950 for philanthropist, collector, and future MoMA president, Blanchette Rockefeller. She needed a place to put up guests, to entertain, and to display a growing collection of contemporary art that her husband, John D. Rockefeller III, didn’t want in the couple’s Beekman Place apartment.

Philip Johnson, Rockefeller Guest House (1949-1950), 242 East 52nd Street, New York, NY, exterior

The Rockefeller Guest House, 242 East 52nd Street, New York City, designed by Philip Johnson in 1949-1950 and landmarked in 2000.

Johnson tore down an existing carriage house, keeping only its brick side walls, which he painted white to best set off the art. The new two-story building’s facade is solid brick on the ground floor and steel and glass on the second floor. The large, open living-and-dining area downstairs (with a guest bedroom and bath above) is separated from the master bedroom in back by a courtyard and small reflecting pool. (A kitchenette, once located in the living area, is now in the basement.) A less-is-more composition of brick, glass, and steel, the house looks a lot like the abstract art it’s meant to display.

The house has had several owners over the years. Johnson himself rented it in the 1970s, and in 2000, the year it was landmarked, the art dealer Anthony d’Offay sold it at a Christie’s auction for $11.1 million to cosmetics tycoon Ronald S. Lauder, himself an important collector and chairman of MoMA.

Philip Johnson, Rockefeller Guest House (1949-1950), 242 East 52nd Street, New York, NY, plan and street facade rendering

A rendering of the guest house’s brick, steel, and glass street facade, and the ground-floor plan, which is bisected by a courtyard and reflecting pool.

Philip Johnson, Rockefeller Guest House (1949-1950), 242 East 52nd Street, New York, NY, interior

The living area in the 1950s, when Blanchette Rockefeller owned the house.

Philip Johnson, Rockefeller Guest House (1949-1950), 242 East 52nd Street, New York, NY, courtyard

Looking from the master bedroom, across the courtyard with its reflecting pool and stepping stones, to the living area. 

JERRY CALDARI: In 1944, Henry Miller visited Big Sur, California, at the time a remote, inaccessible paradise, and was awed by its “grandeur and eloquent silence.” Miller wrote to his friend, the painter Emil White, that he had ”discovered a place better than Mexico” where he wanted to make his home. White also moved to Big Sur, and during the next two decades the duo are credited—or blamed—for generating the first wave of tourism there and popularizing the region. (In fact, the completion of the Pacific Coast Highway in 1937 created the influx of visitors.)

Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, CA, exterior

The Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, California

Miller left Big Sur in 1960, but White stayed on. In 1981, a year after the novelist’s death, White turned his own rustic cabin into a shrine to his friend, which he called the Henry Miller Memorial Library. Set in a grassy clearing surrounded by redwoods, today the compound not only houses a trove of Miller’s papers but also serves as a non-profit bookshop and cultural and educational center. In summer, an outdoor screen is raised across the backdrop of mountain and conifers so movies can be shown under the stars. Benefit concerts have featured artists such as Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Arcade Fire, Flaming Lips, and Philip Glass.

If there’s a lovelier place to hear live music in California, I can’t imagine what it is. The slightly ramshackle cabin is a modest but excellent example of the region’s hand-built vernacular architecture—and an authentic player in the creation the Big Sur’s famously easy going bohemian lifestyle.

Henry Miller in Big Sur, CA, in the 1950s

Henry Miller (1891-1980) in his own Big Sur cabin in the 1950s.

Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, CA, bookshop interior

The Henry Miller Memorial Library bookshop

Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, CA, outdoor movie screening

An outdoor screening, part of the Big Sur International Short Film Series, at the Henry Miller Memorial Library.

TIM BUTTON: In a previous post, I wrote about one of my favorite historic house museums, the Mills Mansion at Staatsburgh in New York’s Hudson River Valley. The 1896 remodel and enlargement of a house belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Mills—she was a Livingston, one of the region’s oldest and most distinguished families—it was designed by Stanford White of starchitects McKim, Mead & White, and is an outstanding example of the Gilded Age country estate. But the same year McKim, Mead & White were commissioned with what is in many ways an equally impressive specimen of the era’s chateau-on-the-Hudson style: the Vanderbilt Mansion in nearby Hyde Park.

The Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park, New York, eastern facade

The Vanderbilt Mansion at Hyde Park in New York’s Hudson River Valley, designed in 1896 by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White.

Faced in gleaming Indiana limestone rather than the Mills Mansion’s white stucco, the fifty-four-room Neoclassical Beaux-Arts house (the only one ever built in the Hudson River Valley) was designed by Charles Follen McKim; Stanford White assisted McKim by serving as an antiques buyer for the project, whose interiors were variously executed between 1896 and 1899 by Herter Brothers, A.H. Davenport, Georges Glaenzer, and Ogden Codman, Jr.

The house belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Frederick William Vanderbilt, one of the lower-key branches of that formidable family of conspicuous consumers. But they were still not quite “established” enough for Eleanor Roosevelt, who as a representative of the old order of Hudson Valley families, characterized the Vanderbilt’s house as a “modern castle” lacking in historical significance compared with the neighboring Mills estate with its Livingston lineage. The former first lady was particularly critical of Mrs. Vanderbilt’s fussy, pretentious taste, writing in 1947 wrote that she “had a passion for bows and, with her own hands, used to decorate every bathroom with bows tied on everything in sight. . . . There are still on the tables some photographs of the kings and queens whom Mrs. Vanderbilt knew in Europe, for it was the era of kings and queens and knowing them made a few of us feel more important.”

Mrs. Roosevelt notwithstanding, the Vanderbilt Mansion’s potent combination of masterful architecture in an Arcadian landscape offers a compelling vision of how the American billionaire class spent it in the late 19th century.

Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park, New York, northern facade

Perfectly positioned on the right bank of the Hudson River, the Indiana limestone mansion stands on the site of a Greek Revival house that was razed when it proved too structurally unsound to expand. 

Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park, New York, Mrs Vanderbilt's Bedroom

 Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom suite on the mansion’s second floor, was designed by Ogden Codman, Jr., co-author with Edith Wharton of The Decoration of Houses (1897), which became a classic of American interior design.

The view of the Hudson River from the Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park, New York

The peerless view of the Hudson River from the Vanderbilt Mansion’s superbly landscaped 300-acre park.