Amon Carter Museum
In 1961, an eccentric man in round, black-framed glasses (of his own design) helped Ruth Carter Stevenson propel Fort Worth, Texas, squarely onto the national art scene with the opening of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. The man, famed American architect Philip Johnson (1906–2005), designed the museum — which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year — as art to house art.
“I hired Philip because he was simply the greatest American architect around,” says Stevenson, now 87. In addition to the Amon Carter Museum, Johnson’s most renowned designs include the Mies van der Rohe–inspired Glass House on Johnson’s property in New Canaan, Conn., as well as parts of the Seagram Building and the Lincoln Center in New York, and the iconic Crystal Cathedral outside of L.A.
Not content with sameness, Johnson was often criticized by his peers for jumping from one style of architecture to another. His shifting preferences contrast dramatically when one compares the Amon Carter Museum with his last project, the recently completed Interfaith Peace Chapel in Dallas. The Amon is a study of neoclassical modernism, comprising straight lines and a series of distinct arched columns that run the length of the building. The chapel, however, is built without any 90-degree angles, resulting in walls that seem to warp and sway. Johnson took pride in both projects, calling the museum “the building of my career” and claiming that the chapel “will be my memorial.”