Toshiko Takaezu is one of the most accomplished artists to work with clay in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, acclaimed for her vessels that she treated like canvases for expressive abstraction. Born in Hawai’i to Japanese immigrant parents, Takaezu came to study and eventually teach in the summer program at Cranbrook Academy of Art between 1951-1956. This major exhibition centered on her life and work is the first nationally touring retrospective of Takaezu’s work in twenty years.

Worlds Within is a chronological retrospective that charts the development of Takaezu’s hybrid practice over seven decades, documenting her early student work in Hawai’i and at Cranbrook through her years teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Art and later at Princeton University. To represent this evolution, the show will present a series of installations loosely inspired by ones that Takaezu created in her own lifetime: from a set table of functional wares from the early 1950s to an immersive constellation of monumental ceramic forms from the late 1990s to early 2000s. The exhibition will include a vast collection of ceramic sculptures including her signature “closed forms,” Moons, Garden Seats, Trees, and select monumental works from her late masterpiece, the Star Series. It will also feature a broad selection of her vibrant and gestural acrylic paintings and weavings, many of which have rarely been seen. Sound will also play an important role in this exhibition as many of Takaezu’s closed ceramic forms contain unseen “rattles”.

To coincide with the exhibition, a new monograph was published in association with Yale University Press, for which Cranbrook Art Museum contributed new scholarship. This timely exhibition and publication arrive just as Takaezu’s work is receiving renewed critical attention as one of the great modern abstractionists.

Toshiko Takaezu: Worlds Within is organized by the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York, with assistance from the Toshiko Takaezu Foundation and the Takaezu family, and curated by Glenn Adamson, Kate Wiener, Dakin Hart, and Leilehua Lanzilotti.

This exhibition would not have been possible without the leadership support of the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Henry Luce Foundation.

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The Cranbrook Art Museum presentation is generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation and the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund.

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Subtleism: Neha Vedpathak with Agnes Martin will showcase a new body of work by Detroit-based abstractionist Neha Vedpathak alongside important canonical works by Agnes Martin, the great American painter associated with Minimalism and a principal influence on Vedpathak’s practice.

Born in India, Vedpathak has spent the past decade in Detroit developing a unique technique of manipulating paper that she calls “plucking.” The time-consuming, labor-intensive process consists of creating countless incisions in painted, hand-made Japanese mulberry paper, known for its long, strong fibers. As a result of plucking, her work has been compared to fiber art, highlighting questions of materiality, texture, and mark-making. Vedpathak views the act of plucking to be resonant with meditation as the creation of work involves a repetitive, ritualistic, and durational act for long periods of time—sometimes multiple weeks for larger pieces. In her work, Vedpathak asks the question “when does the mundane become magical?”

Vedpathak perceives many parallels, alongside the meditative aspect of creation, between her practice and that of Agnes Martin. While writers have previously categorized her work as Minimalist, Vedpathak personally describes herself as a “Subtleist”. Martin likewise rejected the categorization under the umbrella of Minimalism, considering herself an Abstract Expressionist. The title of the exhibition—Subtleism—pushes back on the categorization of previous art historiography while allowing a contemporary artist to analyze Martin’s work through a different lens.

Subtleism: Neha Vedpathak with Agnes Martin is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Laura Mott, Chief Curator, and Andrew Ruys de Perez, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow. The exhibition is generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum

A Modernist Regime: The Contemporary Cuban Lens

As part of A Modernist Regime: The Contemporary Cuban Lens, the solo exhibition Marco Castillo: The Hands of the Collector features several bodies of work by the artist and prolific collector of Cuban mid-century design that he initially started to amass while working as part of the artist collective Los Carpinteros (1992–2018). Castillo incorporates the aesthetics derived from Cuban modernism in his practice to resurrect Cuban design history and to critique the oppression by the government against artists, designers, and intellectuals in Cuba. Many of the artworks are named after modernist Cuban architects and designers in homage to this forgotten generation of creators, including Gonzalo Córdoba, María Victoria Caignet, Iván Espín, Reinaldo Togores, Heriberto Duverger, Clara Porset, and Félix Beltrán—all of whom are featured in the companion historical exhibition, also on view at the museum, A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Design. Castillo’s work often references the aerial view of the kind of plans that interior designers use to layout a room, but here the objects are in turbulence. The work is a freeze-frame of deconstruction, a reference to the demise of autonomy of Cuban artists and the loss of creative life under a dictatorship.

A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Design and A Modernist Regime: The Contemporary Cuban Lens are organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Abel González Fernández and Laura Mott, Chief Curator, with Andrew Satake Blauvelt, Director, and Andrew Ruys de Perez, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow. The exhibitions are generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Clannad Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, Marc Schwartz & Emily Camiener, Karen & Drew Bacon, and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum.

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Media Inquiries:
Julie Fracker
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Office: 248.645.3329
jfracker@cranbrook.edu

As part of A Modernist Regime: The Contemporary Cuban Lens, the exhibition Cuba Dispersa (Cuba Dispersed) features six artists and designers—Julío Llopíz Casal, Liliam Dooley, Anet Melo Glaria, Celia González Álvarez, Hamlet Lavastida, and Ernesto Oroza—that respond to the current conditions in Cuba. As of now, none of the artists live in Cuba, with some forced into exile. Over the past few years, the Cuban government has launched a campaign to suppress the artistic community and control creative production through official legislation, such as Decree 349, in an attempt to quell the outpouring of anti-government artwork and music. The exhibition features six new commissions that use their individual practices to mine these design and material histories to elucidate the past and imagine potential futures. As co-curator Abel González Fernández explains, “When looking at Cuba, we must recognize our fascinating, tragic, elegant, and complex Cuban history. What are we going to keep? We may not have a land for all Cubans to be reunited now because of the dictatorship, but we have a shared memory that unites us.”  

Cuba Dispersa (Cuba Dispersed) and Marco Castillo: The Hands of the Collector are complementary presentations that serve as a contemporary response to the historical survey, A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Design, also on view at the museum.

A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Design and A Modernist Regime: The Contemporary Cuban Lens are organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Abel González Fernández and Laura Mott, Chief Curator, with Andrew Satake Blauvelt, Director, and Andrew Ruys de Perez, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow. The exhibitions are generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Clannad Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, Marc Schwartz & Emily Camiener, Karen & Drew Bacon, and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum.

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Media Inquiries:
Julie Fracker
Director of Communications
Office: 248.645.3329
jfracker@cranbrook.edu

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This exhibition is the first museum presentation on Cuban mid-century design anchored by an under-acknowledged collection of furniture and furnishings, examples of which have not been exhibited off the island.  

Focused on the decades immediately following the Cuban Revolution (1959), A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Modern Design presents a small but prolific cohort of artists, designers, and architects who responded to the demands of a newly centralized economy, including the material constraints imposed by ensuing embargoes, popular demands for more equitable access to goods, and initial excitement about the role modern design could play in shaping a new society.  

The exhibition includes the pioneering work of designers such as Clara Porset and the furniture produced through the Dujo brand and its successor line EMPROVA, led by Gonzalo Córdoba and María Victoria Caignet. In the 1960s, Dujo continued the trajectory of pre-revolutionary mid-century design to produce unique pieces that featured indigenous cultural references and materials, such as local woods and fibers, and utilized the country’s skilled carpentry workshops. By the mid-1970s, the EMPROVA line of furniture and furnishings utilized modular designs to help fulfill growing domestic demand.  

The exhibition also features designs and prototypes created by the Light Industry Group led by designers Reinaldo Togores, María Teresa Muníz Riva, Eva Bjõrkland, and Heriberto Duverger, who along with others explored contemporary furniture intended for mass production with an emphasis on modularity, utilizing new techniques and technologies, such as particleboard and flat pack assembly, embracing a design-for-all ethos.  

Rounding out the exhibition are a presentation of remarkable posters created for OSPAAAL (the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America), as well as examples of modern architecture that emerged after the Revolution—which helped establish Cuba’s presence on the international stage. 

Whether through architecture, graphic design, or furniture, A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Design is a fascinating story of how modernism was transformed through its contact with capitalist, socialist, and communist economies by negotiating the local and the global; untangling fact from propaganda; and understanding the forces of innovation and limitation on design.  

A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Design is complemented by A Modernist Regime: The Contemporary Cuban Lens, which features two presentations: Marco Castillo: The Hands of the Collector and Cuba Dispersa, in which contemporary artists respond to both this earlier design history and the loss of creative freedoms in Cuba today. These exhibitions tell a cautionary tale of how Cuban modernism in design parallels the country’s existential authoritarian conflicts that resulted in a dictatorship that persists today. This trajectory of government control over the production of art, architecture, and design reaches its apex in Cuba today, where artists and other creatives are routinely censored, imprisoned, and exiled. 

A Modernist Regime: Cuban Mid-Century Design and A Modernist Regime: The Contemporary Cuban Lens are organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Abel González Fernández and Laura Mott, Chief Curator, with Andrew Satake Blauvelt, Director, and Andrew Ruys de Perez, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow. The exhibitions are generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Clannad Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, Marc Schwartz & Emily Camiener, Karen & Drew Bacon, and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum.

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Media Inquiries:
Julie Fracker
Director of Communications
Office: 248.645.3329
jfracker@cranbrook.edu

Get Media Images

The innovative work from the next generation of architects, artists, and designers will be on display at the 2024 Graduate Degree Exhibition of Cranbrook Academy of Art. The Degree Exhibition showcases pieces that are the culmination of two years of studio work from a diverse group of graduates as they launch their careers.

The show opens to the public on Sunday, April 7, with a special ArtMembers’ Preview Day on Saturday, April 6.

Book Admission Tickets for the ArtMembers’ Opening Preview Party on April 6, 2024.

Ash Arder is a transdisciplinary, researched-focused artist from Flint, Michigan whose work investigates ecological and industrial systems, especially in consideration of the power dynamics between humans, machines, and the natural world. Her practice illuminates moments of intimacy, tenderness, and connection within industrial spaces. She transforms recognizable objects like hardhats and car parts into sculptural forms that contrast the hard, cold bodies of mechanical tools with the soft, warm bodies of the humans that deploy them.

Arder is a 2018 graduate of the Fiber Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, and Flesh Tones is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition and the second installment of Cranbrook Art Museum’s Fresh Paint series, which highlights new work from Detroit-area artists. Through deeply personal family narratives, Arder’s practice explores the impact and legacy of the automotive industry in southeastern Michigan. The departure point for Flesh Tones is a photograph of her late parents celebrating her baby shower at the General Motors factory where they were employed. By extracting and highlighting different objects, textures, and details from the assembly line, Arder contrasts the cold, hard forms of machines with the warm, soft bodies of the humans who operate them. The intertwining of personal and industrial histories continues with Arder’s manipulation of a 1987 Cadillac Sedan de Ville – her family car from childhood – that she sourced from a junkyard and deconstructed.

Flesh Tones encompasses a celebration of community brought together through industry while also exposing the complicated nature of aligning identity and well-being with material possessions. Arder’s work memorializes the often obsolete, ephemeral residue of a system at a crossroads in a time of climate change. Rather than a melancholy goodbye to the proverbial, resource-intensive machine, she offers an optimistic rebirth through a demonstration of solar power. Arder harnesses the source of renewable energy to ask who is keeping whom—or what—alive in a time defined by inextricable human-machine relationships.

Virtual Tour of Ash Arder: Flesh Tones

Ash Arder: Flesh Tones is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Andrew Ruys de Perez, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow, with support by Laura Mott, Chief Curator. This exhibition is generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation and the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund.

Carl Toth: Reordering Fictions examines various bodies of work that the artist created over his more than forty-year career, from early black and white photography to his pioneering work in alternative photographic techniques. Through his interest in torquing reality, Toth sought to expand the field of photography through his exploration of the SX-70 Polaroid camera and his adoption of the photocopier as his camera lens of choice. Toth’s intricate use of collage and photomontage resulted in masterful compositions of complex still-life tableaux, toeing the line between representation and abstraction.  

Carl Toth (1947–2022) served as Artist-in-Residence and Head of the Photography Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1972 until 2007, shaping generations of students. Toth brought a personal interest in literature and literary theory to the Academy at a time when such ideas were just beginning to redirect the medium. The title, Reordering Fictions, is derived from a quote by the artist—a nod to the Toth’s affinity for the written word and the constructed nature of the realities that accompany photographic representation. 

Carl Toth: Reordering Fictions is the first museum exhibition to reassess Toth’s legacy in photography.

Virtual Tour of Carl Toth: Reordering Fictions

Carl Toth: Reordering Fictions is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Kat Goffnett, Assistant Curator of Collections. The exhibition is supported, in part, by the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, ArtPack Services, Inc., and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum.

One of Detroit’s most intriguing figures, artist LeRoy Foster (1925–1993) was an exceptional talent and a leading figure in the Black artistic community. Perhaps best known for his large mural at the Douglass Branch of the Detroit Public Library, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, (1972), Foster studied art at Detroit’s famed Cass Tech High School, the Society of Arts and Crafts (now the College for Creative Studies) and, it is believed, at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Foster embodied his moniker “the Michelangelo of Detroit,” drawing inspiration from the drama of High Renaissance paintings. This passion also led him to study overseas in London and Rome, growing his deft skills in figuration. Conceived as a companion to the concurrent contemporary-art-focused exhibition, Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit, LeRoy Foster exemplifies the rich local history of Black realism.

Foster was openly gay during a time of hostility and oppression towards the LGBTQ+ community and was championed by other legendary Detroiters, such as queer activist Ruth Ellis, artist Charles McGhee, and philanthropist Charles Wright. Foster was uncompromising in his artistic vision, which didn’t always fit with the larger art world’s expectations and stylistic trends, leaving him essentially unrepresented in twentieth-century art history and underrepresented in scholarship on Black artists. The exhibition’s title, Solo Show, is a nod to the fact this is his first significant recognition from a museum, but also a testament to the freedom in which he conducted his life—quite literally living and working in a former theater adorned with gold lamé—like a “solo show.”

While researching the exhibition, the mural Renaissance City was recovered from storage at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School.  The mural had previously been installed in the school’s old building from the early 1980s until 2005—this exhibition will be the first time it has been on view in nearly 20 years. The work is undergoing restoration at Cranbrook Art Museum thanks to the efforts of Rochelle Riley, Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit, and the Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship. The restored work will debut in the exhibition and be returned to the new Cass Technical High School to be placed on permanent view to the public.

Virtual Tour of LeRoy Foster: Solo Show

LeRoy Foster: Solo Show is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by artist Mario Moore and Laura Mott, Chief Curator, Cranbrook Art Museum. The exhibition is generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, the David Klein and Kate Ostrove Exhibition Fund, and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum. The conservation of Renaissance City is generously supported by the Kresge Foundation through the City of Detroit Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship.

Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit focuses on a local community of artists that have developed expert skills in drawing and painting, and, through deft hands, explore the representation of the Black body in both personal and cultural contexts. Rejecting the monolithic nature under which the Black body is frequently conceived and popularly imagined, Skilled Labor illustrates the range, depth, nuance, and variety of Black life through each artist’s unique approach to figuration. The exhibition features a spectrum of lived experiences—joy, intimacy, reverie, danger, tension—through this artistic lens. Collectively, these artists are undertaking the laborious task of art historical and cultural rethinking through acts of representation.

“Skilled labor” refers to highly trained, experienced individuals who complete complex mental or physical tasks with expertise. The term poetically speaks to these Detroit artists that perform a durational and technically proficient approach to artmaking. Skilled labor is also a rigorous intellectual process that these artists materialize through technical prowess. They are a result of generations of skilled Black labor workers, who bestowed upon the city a legacy of extraordinary innovation. The exhibition evinces the unique sense of place, community, and networks of support found in Detroit.

This landmark exhibition will feature 20 contemporary artists who have worked in Detroit over the last decade and demonstrate this exceptional skill.

These artists include Christopher Batten, Taurus Burns, Cydney Camp, Ijania Cortez, Cailyn Dawson, Bakpak Durden, Conrad Egyir, Jonathan Harris, Sydney G. James, Gregory Johnson, Richard Lewis, Hubert Massey, Mario Moore, Sabrina Nelson, Patrick Quarm, Joshua Rainer, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, Senghor Reid, Rashaun Rucker, and Tylonn J. Sawyer.

The exhibition is co-curated with Detroit artist Mario Moore, whose internationally acclaimed work exemplifies this expertise.

Virtual Tour of Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit

Skilled Labor: Black Realism in Detroit is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by artist Mario Moore and Laura Mott, Chief Curator, Cranbrook Art Museum, with assistance from Andrew Ruys de Perez, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Curatorial Fellow. The exhibition is generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, the David Klein and Kate Ostrove Exhibition Fund, Samara (Johnson) Furlong & Mark Furlong, Karen & Drew Bacon, Ethan & Gretchen Davidson, Linda & Rod Gillum, and ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museumers of Cranbrook Art Museum.