Loja Saarinen (Designer) and Eliel Saarinen (Designer and Draftsman)
Study for the Festival of the May Queen Tapestry, 1932
Watercolor and gouache with pencil underdrawing on tracing paper
Gift of Kingswood School Cranbrook
In recognition of Finland’s centennial of independence, Cranbrook Art Museum presents Finland 100: The Cranbrook Connection, an exhibition examining the profound influence this country has had on the development of the arts in America.
Design has always been a special strength of Finnish culture, exemplified by the Cranbrook campus itself. When designing Cranbrook, architect Eliel Saarinen blended vernacular Finnish romanticism from his native Kirkkonummi, Finland, with the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles prominent in America at the time. Saarinen’s comprehensive philosophy that one should design in the context of the next larger thing—from the chair to the room to the house to the city—meant that no element of the built environment should be overlooked. Thus, he and his talented family designed Cranbrook as a “total work of art,” which the New York Times has called “one of the greatest campuses ever created anywhere in the world.”
The exhibition features many treasures of Cranbrook’s history, including exquisite architectural renderings by Eliel Saarinen, intricate weavings by his wife Loja, and furniture and furnishings by his children, Eero and Pipsan. Also included are works by Finnish-born artists-in-residence at Cranbrook, such as Maija Grotell, head of ceramics, and Marianne Strengell, the head of the fiber department. Visitors to Cranbrook, such as the great Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto, also exerted an important influence in the development of modern design at Cranbrook and beyond.
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