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Artists and Architects to MoMA: Take Down Philip Johnson’s Name – Curbed

The founding director of the museum’s Architecture and Design department was a known white supremacist.

Johnson at MoMA in the early 1930s. Photo: aKeystone-Underwood/FPG/Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Johnson at MoMA in the early 1930s. Photo: aKeystone-Underwood/FPG/Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before Philip Johnson designed a single building, he was already architecture’s “godfather, gadfly, scholar, patron, critic, curator, and cheerleader,” as the critic Paul Goldberger once wrote. As the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art’s Architecture and Design department, he helped define modern architecture to the American public. His name is on the walls of MoMA’s galleries and is part of the title of its chief curator of architecture and design. But a group of artists and architects is demanding a reckoning with his full history, because Philip Johnson was also a fascist.

On Friday, the Johnson Study Group — a largely anonymous group of designers and architects documenting Johnson’s influence on MoMA and the field of architecture — sent a letter to the museum, demanding that his name be removed from all spaces and titles. Thirty-one prominent names in architecture, design, and art also signed on, including seven architects in a forthcoming MoMA exhibit. “There is a role for Johnson’s architectural work in archives and historic preservation,” the letter reads. “However, naming titles and spaces inevitably suggests that the honoree is a model for curators, administrators, students, and others who participate in these institutions.”

What disqualifies Johnson, according to the letter, is his white-supremacist past, which is well documented in books and magazines and in his FBI file. Johnson described attending Nazi rallies in Germany as “exhilarating” and attempted to found a fascist political party in the United States.

Read on >>>> Source: Curbed Artists to MoMA: Take Down Philip Johnson’s Name

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