You’re not likely to see a better display of the most important architecture and design of the 20th century anywhere else this summer, so the fact that Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America only focuses on what came out of post war MI is even more remarkable. Starting with Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen’s highly influential submissions for the Organic Design in Home Furnishings at MoMA in 1940, and ending with a recreation of a living space in Mies Van der Roe’s Lafayette Park in Detroit, there are few stones left unturned, yet the map and timeline in the North Gallery proves that so much editing still had to be done. Focusing primarily on the design and architecture, as well as the automotive industry from 1940 – 1970, MI Modern has original and reproductions of some of the most iconic furniture of the period, Herman Miller textiles of Alexander Girard and Ruth Adler – Schnee, advertisements for Steelcase, Herman Miller and others, and newly created and existing models of iconic buildings throughout Michigan. Encompassing most of the state including the U.P., with a symposium (June 13-16) touring iconic buildings in Broomfield Hills, Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan Modern is in many ways a summer blockbuster show, mimicking on a small scale the expansiveness of Documenta, but with everything homegrown. While considering all the Saarinen, Van der Roe, Kahn and Breuer contributions to the design and architectural legacy of Michigan, one sees how (again) much of America’s strength lies in immigration, but even more where unique timing, collaboration, forward thinking, talent and serendipity had a profound and lasting impact on the look and feel of modern America. It is our fortune that so many of these Architectural gems like Lafayette Park, the GM Tech Center, and St. Francis de Sales Church are here in Michigan. It is an exhibition that can keep rewarding the viewer all summer long, able to travel from one building to another at the best time of the year to do so. While they have always been sitting in plain site, MI Modern re emphasizes their importance and in doing so, presents them again to us as new.
Two complementary shows at Cranbrook Art Museum highlight the lasting influence of Cranbrook at this time in MI History. What to Paint and Why: Modern Painters at Cranbrook, 1936 – 1974, curated by Chad Alligood showcases paintings by alumni and faculty of Cranbrook Academy of Art, offering works that are both in line with and counter the prevailing movements of 20th century art. Likewise, A Driving force: Cranbrook and the Car, curated by Shoshana Resnikoff offers a rare look into Cranbrook’s influence in the auto industry, complete with a stunning and unique Rocket cycle car as well as designs by alum Suzanne Vanderbilt.
Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America is organized by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office in association with Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Monica Ponce de Leon and Gregory Saldaña. On View at Cranbrook Art Museum until October 13, 2013.
Visit Cranbrook Art Museum’s website for more info:
A subjective round-up of the week’s art-world events, news stories, blog links and other happenings in Chicago and beyond that are of note or otherwise got me thinkin’.
*Deathtoll of L’Aquila earthquake in Italy is at 189; the earthquake injured over 1,000 and left thousands more homeless; extensive damage to architectural monuments and artworks in the area deal a severe blow to Italy’s cultural heritage.
*Museum ethics smackdown: Donn Zaretsky’s “What’s Wrong with the AAMD’s Deaccessioning Policy” vs. Christopher Knight’s “What’s Wrong with the Argument Attacking AAMD Policy.” Go Christopher!
*The Geography of Buzz. (New York Times).
*“I’ve Seen the Future, and It Belongs to the Dead”: Edward Winkleman on whether deceased artists can bring the art market back to life.
*Ball-Nogues Studio (based in L.A.’s Echo Park) to design Elastic Plastic Sponge for Coachella this year. It’s a 250 x 25 foot sculpture made of plastic tubing that will mist water on overheated festival-goers, made in collaboration with students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci Arc). (via Culture Monster).
*Attention all K-12 art and media educators in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles: applications for Art21′s Art Educators 2009/10, “a yearlong professional development initiative designed to cultivate and support K-12 art educators interested in bringing contemporary art, artists, and themes into their classrooms,” are available now.