Exhibition Detail

Jack Lenor Larsen leading a critique of his “emotional and intellectual stripes” weaving assignment, 1956; photographed by student Walter Holt. Image courtesy Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950-1969

December 14, 2019 - March 8, 2020
Upper Galleries

In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950-1969 is the first museum exhibition to explore the impact of this important artistic community located in rural Maine and its impact on twentieth-century art. Featuring approximately 90 works, including textiles, ceramics, glass, metalwork, paintings, and prints, as well as archival materials, In the Vanguard features works by artists such as Anni Albers, Dale Chihuly, Robert Ebendorf, M.C. Richards, and Cranbrook alumni Olga de Amaral, Jack Lenor Larsen, Harvey Littleton, and Toshiko Takaezu, among others. Formed by a group of craft artists in 1950 with support from philanthropist Mary Beasom Bishop of Flint, Michigan, and led by artists Francis and Priscilla Merritt, who had spent time at Cranbrook, Haystack shares many affinities and connections with Cranbrook Academy of Art. The exhibition foregrounds the innovative and collaborative nature of the Haystack experience and its role in national debates about the boundaries between art, craft, and design. The accompanying 192-page publication provides new insights and revises the narrative about midcentury art and craft in America.


In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950-1969 is curated by Rachael Arauz and Diana Greenwold and is organized by the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. The project was supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Craft Research Fund Grant from the Center for Craft. The Bloomfield Hills presentation is made possible, in part, with the support of the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation and the Museum Committee and Art Members of Cranbrook Art Museum.