New York Magazine

Philip Johnson, Nazi Spy?

A decade before he grew famous for his Glass House, he was enthusiastically at home in the Third Reich.
Johnson in the 1930s.

PHILIP CORTELYOU JOHNSON, the architect and MoMA curator, died in 2005 at age 98. By then, he had long since become the urbane public face of the American architecture Establishment. As this excerpt from Mark Lamster’s new biography, The Man in the Glass House, reveals, he spent the late 1930s quite differently: as a wealthy young aesthete gadding about Germany and embracing Nazi politics.

In new york in the fall of 1937, Johnson reunited with Lawrence Dennis, the preeminent intellectual force of the American fascist movement. Johnson was a financial benefactor of Dennis, who had traveled to Europe in the summer of 1936 to explore fascism in its native environment, meeting with Mussolini and then with Alfred Rosenberg, the chief theorist of the Nazi myth of Teutonic superiority. Keeping his own background—he was of mixed race—a secret, Dennis suggested Germany should “treat the Jews more or less as we treat the Negroes in America.” He was also given a taste of Nazi spectacle. The Propaganda Ministry arranged tickets to the Olympic Games in Berlin, then sent him on a

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