Cranbrook Sightings

Arnold Blanch’s “The Hunters”

Cranbrook Sightings BlogInside the Vault

With summer fast approaching (though it does not always feel like it in mercurial Michigan!), it’s about time that we let ourselves take a break from our everyday lives of work and obligations to imagine ourselves in the soon-to-be summer sun, carefree and radiant. For some children, summer means boundless days, free from the shackles of oppressive homework. For others, summer is merely a lazy day on the hammock or a leisurely bike ride to the ice cream parlor. For some of us here in Michigan, summer promises treks up north, to the glistening lakes and sun-kissed days. It is truly beautiful here, whether summer or any other season, and it is this beauty that Arnold Blanch captures in his oil painting, The Hunters, which the Cranbrook Art Museum holds in its collection.


Tagged: Arnold Blanch, Detroit, MI, Exhibitions, Jacqueline Honet, MI, Michigan, Painting

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Wallpapers by William Morris

Cranbrook Sightings BlogInside the Vault

You may remember this past spring when my colleague, Shoshana Resnikoff, wrote a blog post about May Morris's Bed Hangings in celebration of her birthday. Well today on the blog we take a look at her father, William Morris (1834–1896), designer, poet, novelist, socialist, translator of Icelandic sagas(!), and all-around creative visionary who shaped the Arts and Crafts movement in England and its many iterations throughout Europe and the United States.


Tagged: Arts and Crafts Movement, Shelley Selim, Wallpaper, William Morris

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Happy Birthday Eliel and Eero Saarinen!

Cranbrook Sightings Blog

August 20th is a big occasion here at Cranbrook--the day both our campus architect Eliel Saarinen (Finnish, 1873 - 1950) and his architect son Eero (Finnish-American, 1910 - 1961) entered this world! In honor of two great men from one of the design community's most accomplished families (read blog posts about matriarch Loja Saarinen here and Eero's big sister Pipsan here), today on the blog we'll visit the Saarinen House dining room, where father-and-son birthdays were most certainly celebrated on many an August 20th throughout the 1930s.


Tagged: Eero Saarinen, Eliel Saarinen, Saarinen House, Shelley Selim

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From the Files: The Viewpoint ’81 Exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum

Cranbrook Sightings BlogExhibitions

One of the perks of my job is the opportunity to sift through our old files when scholars email us with research questions. One such request led me to our records for Viewpoint ’81, an exhibition of works by six artists created for and painted directly on the gallery walls at Cranbrook Art Museum. Daniel […]


Tagged: Daniel Buren, Dorthea Rockburne, Gene Davis, Painting, Patrick Ireland, Rick Paul, Shelley Selim, Sol LeWitt, Viewpoint '81

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Saarinen Heaven at the Dam Site Inn

Cranbrook Sightings Blog

At the end of June my beau and I embarked on a Michigan road trip, driving up north to Mackinac and down the western coast of the state. The Island, Tunnel of Trees, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and plenty of breweries made the list, and when Cranbrook Art Museum director Gregory Wittkopp mentioned to me a restaurant and cocktail bar in Pellston filled with Eero Saarinen furniture, I knew we had to take a special detour.


Tagged: Furniture, Pellston, Shelley Selim, Textiles

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Summer Exhibitions are Now Open!

Cranbrook Sightings BlogExhibitions

After many weeks of install, Cranbrook Art Museum was thrilled to unveil six new summer exhibitions over the weekend! Our team of preparators at the museum is truly outstanding, and it was a joy to watch all of the shows slowly come to life through all of their hard work. When I’ve had spare moments […]


Tagged: Andy Warhol, Film, Ken Isaacs, Paul Evans, Shelley Selim

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Farewell Massimo Vignelli

Cranbrook Sightings Blog

Wow, has it been a month since the last post? Apologies for the radio silence over here–we are closing in on the final weeks before the opening of our summer exhibitions (June 20th for members, June 21 for the public!) and all of the troops have been rallying to perfect install and content before our […]


Tagged: Dot Zero, Graphic Design, Massimo Vignelli, Shelley Selim

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Warhol on Vinyl (It’s Record Store Day Tomorrow!)

Cranbrook Sightings BlogExhibitions

We’re big vinyl connoisseurs here at the Art Museum. One of us collects albums with covers featuring mid-century furniture (like this one!). Another spent a weekend scouring every record store in Stockholm for a Swedish pressing of Lee Hazlewood’s Cowboy in Sweden, to no avail. So it’s no surprise that we are pretty pumped for […]


Tagged: Album Art, Andy Warhol, Ben Shahn, Graphic Design, Painting, Shelley Selim

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Rock of Ages: The Sanilac Petroglyphs

Cranbrook Sightings Blog

In 1881, the "Great Thumb Fire" ravaged the woods of what is now Sanilac Petroglyph Historic State Park and its surrounding areas in eastern Michigan, causing 282 fatalities and burning upwards of one million acres of land. (Sidenote: The region received the inaugural relief efforts from Clara Barton's American Red Cross, which was founded just months earlier). In the aftermath, a farmer surveying the damage to his land noticed large sections of carvings on a limestone outcrop that had previously been obscured by a thick brush which was now burned away.


Tagged: Cranbrook Institute of Science, Sanilac Petroglyphs

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Pipsan: The Lesser-Known (But No Less Impressive!) Saarinen Sibling

Cranbrook Sightings BlogInside the Vault

If it were up to me, every month would be Women's History Month, but alas for the foreseeable future it is *officially* delegated to March in the United States, and today is our last chance to celebrate! How auspicious that March 31 also happens to be the birthday of Pipsan (born Eva Lisa) Saarinen Swanson, designer of furniture, interiors, fashion, and textiles, and younger sister of one of the most recognizable names in modern architecture, Eero Saarinen. Pipsan's father Eliel was of course the architect of the Cranbrook Campus and President of the Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1932-1946, but before being lured to Bloomfield Hills by Cranbrook founder George Gough Booth, he was a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Michigan. One of his star students was Grand Rapids native J. Robert F. Swanson, who upon graduation founded the Swanson and Booth architectural firm at Cranbrook with his University of Michigan classmate Henry Scripps Booth, George's son. It was here that Swanson was introduced to Pipsan, and immediately Cupid wielded his mighty arrow--they were married in 1926. After Swanson broke away to establish his own firm, Swanson and Associates, Pipsan was enlisted as an interior designer for the company, and the husband and wife team would continue their working and romantic partnership for the rest of their lives.


Tagged: Eero Saarinen, Eliel Saarinen, Furniture, Pipsan Saarinen, Robert F. Swanson, Shelley Selim

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