Rebelling against the confines of the rectilinear canvas became a generative theme for several twentieth-century painters—Carmen Herrera, Lee Bontecou, Frank Stella, Blinky Palermo, Alan Shields, Kenneth Noland, Elizabeth Murray, and Sam Gilliam, for instance. While many of these pioneers adopted hard-edged geometric forms and flat fields of judicious color for their abstract compositions, Detroit-based painter James Benjamin Franklin has opted instead for an organic, irregularly edged canvas, the introduction of found textile materials, and a blend of fluid paint and strategic brushwork all rendered in a bold and lush color palette.
Turning the canvas into a thick-lipped, albeit vertically oriented, “tray” allows Franklin to hold a plethora of materials in a mix of painterly and sculptural practices—pieces of crochet afghan, old towels, swathes of fabric, or offcuts of pile carpet are assembled and overlaid with poured and brushed paint and occasionally dusted with glitter or sand. The organic shapes that he gives the canvases, the free and loose application of paint, combined with their rich and colorful textural surfaces imbue the works with an inventive materiality and a contemporary handcrafted sensibility.
For his first solo museum exhibition in Detroit, Franklin returns to the Cranbrook campus, where he studied at the Academy of Art, to create an entirely new body of work that further develops these exciting themes and innovative processes.
James Benjamin Franklin (b. Tacoma, Washington) is an artist based in Detroit, Michigan. His distinctive canvases push the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Franklin received his BFA from Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, in 1999 and his MFA in Painting in 2017 from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. His work has been featured in exhibitions at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville; FRONT International, the Cleveland Institute of Art, Ohio; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit; and Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City. His work has been featured in Bomb Magazine, Galerie Magazine, Hyperallergic, and the New York Times. The artist is represented by Reyes | Finn Gallery, Detroit, Michigan.
During the exhibition, Cranbrook Art Museum will present a new performance series. Set, is a series of improvisational performances including music, movement, and spoken word that directly responds to the exhibition James Benjamin Franklin: Full Circle. An energetic call and response across media, each performance explores the languages of continuous discovery through abstraction and improvisation. Located within our Larson gallery among the artworks, audiences were immersed in a visual and auditory expression of joy, color, and introspection.
James Benjamin Franklin: Full Circle is curated by Andrew Satake Blauvelt and organized by Cranbrook Art Museum. The exhibition is generously supported by the Gilbert Family Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, Dirk Denison and David Salkin, Karen and Drew Bacon, and Andrea Brown and Jonah Stutz. Promotional assistance provided by Reyes|Finn Gallery.
Scott Hocking: Detroit Stories is the first museum retrospective of the artist, who has been living and working in Detroit for more than twenty-five years and who was born in the adjacent community of Redford Township, Michigan.
Hocking’s acclaimed work spans sculpture and installation, photography and video, and is known for its repurposing of existing materials and found objects, which the artist uses in site-specific projects that delve into local histories and conditions of place. Hocking gained international attention for a series of works undertaken in various abandoned buildings around Detroit, where he would assemble large-scale sculptures from the surrounding detritus: a giant egg-shaped sculpture made from stacking hundreds of pieces of slab marble found at Michigan Central Station (2007–2013), or a giant ziggurat structure composed of thousands of wooden floor blocks at the Fisher Body Plant 21 (2007–2009). Produced through the artist’s lone labor over the course of many months and years, these powerful works are mostly known through the spectacular photographs that Hocking takes to document the final result. In addition to these monumentally scaled works, Hocking has also created public art projects such as Nike of the Strait (2021), a winged tower made from repurposed metal buoys, located along the Detroit Riverfront. Hocking documents the unique contexts and quirky nature of Detroit’s ever-changing urban landscape in, for instance, the hauntingly beautiful on-going series, Detroit Nights (2007– present), which depicts city scenes and landscapes photographed using only available light.
Emerging in the 2000s to become one of Detroit’s most important contemporary voices and chroniclers, Hocking possesses an embodied knowledge of the city and its idiosyncratic histories. While rooted in the city of Detroit, Hocking has also produced projects in different places around the world, responding to the particular circumstances of each location. His unique artistic process combines aspects of urban archeology— uncovering layers of history, meaning, and memory—with a historian’s sense of discovery and a writer’s craft of storytelling.
The exhibition will include pieces from Hocking’s major bodies of work, including his site-specific installations, large-scale sculptures, found object assemblages, photographic series, and videos of his journeys. Also known for his writings, Hocking will punctuate the galleries with some of his stories—tales of (mis)adventure, episodes from history, reflections of a changing city, ruminations on art and life, and more—offering a narrated tour for visitors on their own journey through the exhibition.
Scott Hocking: Detroit Stories is curated by Andrew Satake Blauvelt and organized by Cranbrook Art Museum. The exhibition is generously supported by Gilbert Family Foundation, the George Francoeur Art Museum Exhibition Fund, the David Klein and Kate Ostrove Exhibition Fund, and Samara (Johnson) Furlong and Mark Furlong. Promotional assistance provided by David Klein Gallery.
The innovative work from the next generation of architects, artists, and designers will be on display at the 2022 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 24, with a special ArtMembers’ Preview Day on Saturday, April 23. In compliance with safety and health regulations, in-person events are subject to change.
Master of Architecture:
Ryan Andrew David
Michelle Jing-Ying Su
Master of Fine Arts:
Edward Armstrong Ryan
Katie Elizabeth Clift Severson
Jenna Teresa VanFleteren
Emily Louise Bommarito
Ryan T. Genena
Vikramaditya Raju Kalidindi
Christopher A. McKay
Gabriela Sofía Gutiérrez
Sage Antonella Rucci
Cooper Wray Siegel
Claire Russell Thibodeau
Mark Benjamin Vander Heide
Deja Milany Jones
Meirav Sylvia Ong
Elliot Walter Avis
Batoul Ali Ballout
Ki Yeun Kim
Douglas Christopher Pendleton
Julian Jamaal Jones
Diana S. Noh
Douglas Randell Jones
Ashley Elizabeth Karnowski
Linda Grace Kentoffio
Madeline Rudy McGinn
Chelsea Romeo Allen
Noelle Amanda Choy
Kelly Lynn Kroener
Every tiger has its own pattern of stripes. For artist Tyrrell Winston, the concept of a tiger’s stripes translates to the unique identity, pride, and legacy many feel about their favorite sports team. Best known for his gridded assemblages of found basketballs, Winston’s work is rooted in themes of memory, nostalgia, found objects, and sports culture. His particular focus on sports is, in part, because it is a collective act that society undertakes together.
Cranbrook Art Museum is hosting Winston’s first solo museum presentation. A Detroit-based artist, Winston collected weathered and torn basketball nets from around the city for his series, Network. He replaced old nets with new ones and transformed the worn nets into new dynamic textile works. He has created a new series of Protection Paintings, which juxtapose lacquered panels of metallic automotive paint and found discarded tarps (often used to protect cars from the elements), and a new Michigan-based series of Punishment Paintings, which replicate the autograph signatures of famous athletes over and over again.
Winston will also construct new sculptural works from outdoor bleachers, one of which will serve as a forum for conversations, transforming the object’s typical function of seating opposing teams into a space of dialogue and creative exchange.
Tyrrell Winston: A Tiger’s Stripes is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Laura Mott, Chief Curator. The project is supported by a residency facilitated by Library Street Collective.
While home is commonly used in reference to a physical space, the concept of home extends far beyond the parameters of any structure. It is a place, but also a feeling. According to social scientist Aviezier Tucker, “most people spend their lives in search of a home, at the gap between the natural home…and the particular ideal home where they would be fully fulfilled.”
The exhibition Homebody is rooted in a desire to unpack the layers of “home” by placing in conversation artistic interpretations of the word and the complex feelings it evokes. Several of the artists investigate technologies used in the home, including the digital realm that opens up borders between self and other, the public and the private. Artists also abstract and reimagine traditional objects of comfort and utility, tapping into the complex relationship between the domestic space and capitalistic society. “Home” is also considered from national and ethnographic points of view through works that explore immigrant perspectives that straddle two homes, often a world apart. Other artists contemplate home from a more bodily perspective, how we find belonging in our own skin and the spaces we inhabit.
Homebody seeks to unravel the ambiguous term of “home” by delving into connotations of comfort, nostalgia, alienation, and perpetual longing evoked by a word wrapped in promises. All of the artists featured in the exhibition have ties to Detroit, granting Homebody both a local perspective and a spectrum of backgrounds and interests that reflect the complexity of the city itself.
Artists featured include Tyanna Buie, Jason Carter, Mitch Cope, Lorena Cruz, Jessika Edgar, Sophie Eisner, Mario Moore, Martha Mysko, Dominic Palarchio, Rachel Pontious, Amy Fisher Price, Farah Al Qasimi, Jessica Rohrer, Victoria Shaheen, Darryl DeAngelo Terrell, Dessislava Terzieva, Corine Vermeulen, Meredith Walker, Ricky Weaver, and Renee Willoughby.
Homebody is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Kat Goffnett, Assistant Curator of Collections at Cranbrook Art Museum.
Eliel Saarinen was already an architect of renown in his native Finland before emigrating with his family to the United States in 1923.
He would meet George Booth, Cranbrook’s founder along with his wife Ellen Scripps Booth, through his son Henry who was studying architecture with Saarinen at the University of Michigan. Saarinen would commence building the Booths’ dream of Cranbrook in a series of astoundingly beautiful buildings, completing the historic campus in stages from 1927–1942. The result is one of the world’s most enchanted places—a total work of art, where every detail has been designed.
Over the last several years, photographer James Haefner has documented the art and architecture of Cranbrook, including the buildings featured in this exhibition: Kingswood School, the Academy of Art Library and Art Museum, and Saarinen House, as well as new images of Cranbrook School.
Designated in 1989 as a National Historic Landmark, Cranbrook Educational Community comprises 319 acres of stunning architecture, graceful fountains, and bucolic landscapes.
Building Cranbrook: Saarinen in Michigan is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Andrew Blauvelt, Director, with support from ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum and the Museum Committee.
Featuring 50 photographs by acclaimed Bloomfield Hills-based photographer James Haefner, this exhibition explores Michigan’s extraordinary legacy in architectural modernism.
Diverse in style and rich in significance, Michigan Modern documents landmark buildings throughout the state, from the innovative GM Tech Center designed by Eero Saarinen in Warren, Michigan and the refined beauty of Minoru Yamasaki’s McGregor Conference Center at Wayne State University in Detroit to Richard Meier’s iconic Douglas House in Harbor Springs and Zaha Hadid’s striking MSU Broad Art Museum in East Lansing.
At the confluence of art, industry, and education, Michigan has long played an outsized role in the evolution of modern architecture and design. The architects of the 34 projects documented by Haefner reads like who’s-who of modernism and includes the work of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alden B. Dow, Alexander Girard, William Kessler, George Nelson, Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Gunnar Birkerts, and Kevin Roche, among many others.
In conjunction with this exhibition is a gallery of photographs by Haefner of Cranbrook’s historic landmark campus, highlighting the architecture of Eliel Saarinen.
The exhibition emerged from Haefner’s work documenting important examples of historically significant architecture throughout Michigan for the State Historic Preservation Office and is based on the book by its former chief officer, Brian D. Conway, Michigan Modern: An Architectural Legacy.
This exhibition is organized by James Haefner with interpretive texts by Brian D. Conway and curated by Andrew Blauvelt, Director, and is supported by ArtMembers of Cranbrook Art Museum and the Museum Committee.
The social activism of the 1960s and 1970s gave rise to an “underground press,” which provided an alternative way to publish writings on a variety of issues, including Black empowerment, the quest for civil liberties and workers’ rights, anti-Vietnam war sentiment, and critiques of capitalism. This was not a single press but rather a loose collection of independent magazines, alternative newspapers, fringe book publishers, and printing cooperatives, which helped democratize publishing by making the necessary equipment and processes available to ordinary citizens. Alternative presses were created to bypass reluctant commercial printers who simply did not agree with the ideas expressed or feared boycotts by the public or from other clients, as well as reprisals from the government.
Detroit became a hub for such alternative thinking and publishing, both before and after the wake of the citizen uprisings against institutionalized anti-Black racism in 1967 as well as on the basis of its strong union presence in manufacturing. In 1969, a group of friends, including Fredy and Lorraine Perlman, purchased a used industrial printing press and set up shop in the city, eventually calling themselves the Detroit Printing Co-op.
Although lacking any formal printing or design training, Fredy Perlman found an innate connection to the visual possibilities of the printed page. His printing experiments ranged from creating striking collages and using overlapping ink colors to inventive treatments for texts and images on the page. Rejecting the convention of privately owned property, the Co-op also made its press available for like-minded others to use, and printed paid commissions to help cover expenses. The Co-op’s activities included Fredy and Lorraine Perlman’s book imprint called Black & Red, which published Guy Debord’s seminal text, Society of the Spectacle; printing one of the era’s defining magazines, Radical America; and collaboration with members of Black Star, the publishing arm of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, and Detroit’s influential anarchist newspaper Fifth Estate.
The story of the Detroit Printing Co-op underscores the power of the press to voice dissent, organize communities of like-minded individuals, and to articulate a case for social change. In an era dominated by the printed word and graphic communications, the Detroit Printing Co-op offered a small but potent example of such power, one that finds echoes not only in some of today’s pressing social issues, but also in the resurgent interest in self-publishing and alternative printing methods in an age of screen-based social media
For more information about The Detroit Printing Co-op: The Politics of the Joy of Printing, click here.
Detroit Printing Co-op: The Politics of the Joy of Printing is based on a previous exhibition produced by 9338 Campau and subsequent research for a publication of the same title by Danielle Aubert, which was supported in part by the James L. Knight Foundation, Wayne State University, and AIGA. The exhibition was organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and was curated by Andrew Blauvelt and Danielle Aubert with exhibition design by Jon Geiger.
Headspace: Jim Dine’s Glyptotek
Inspired by a 1984 trip to Glyptothek, Munich’s museum dedicated to antique Greek and Roman sculpture, artist Jim Dine set out to create a book of prints inspired by the collection. He produced forty drawings uniquely designed to function as transparencies in the production of héliogravure prints, a printmaking process used to reproduce the earliest photographs. Dine’s prints exist both as individual works and as a collection, bound together in the oversized book, Glyptotek. According to Dine, each individual image in his Glyptotek can stand alone, but when viewed together they form a singular narrative “about learning from the Ancient World.”
Headspace pairs Dine’s prints with sculptural works by other artists from Cranbrook Art Museum’s permanent collection. These pieces from the twentieth century draw aesthetic parallels to Dine’s gestural renderings. Many of the selected busts mimic Dine’s ancient source material, while other works abstract the figure and reduce the form to a simple suggestion of it represents.
Headspace: Jim Dine’s Glyptotek is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Kat Goffnett, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Collections Fellow, and features works gifted by George Francouer and Gerald Earles.
Allie McGhee has been an important pillar of the Detroit art scene for more than five decades with a practice defined by his signature approach to abstraction. This retrospective is a long overdue presentation of significant past works from McGhee’s extensive and dynamic oeuvre, as well as the premiere of ambitious new paintings created for this auspicious occasion.
In the late 1960s, McGhee shifted his practice from representational depictions because he was drawn to the long communicative history of geometry and abstraction in the timeline of humanity. One constant inspiration has been traditional African sculpture and its forms of symbolism. The title of this exhibition—Banana Moon Horn—is the name McGhee has given to the recurring arcing forms that he has explored throughout his career. The Banana Moon Horn has associations ranging from the natural world, humor, and ancient art—myriad interpretations are both intentional and welcome. McGhee often overlaps and mixes mediums by incorporating found objects or bringing a three-dimensional quality to his paintings. To this end, his collapsed canvas works have conceptual ties to McGhee’s research into science and the cosmos, often alluding to the view into a microscope or possibly collapsing universe.
McGhee can be found in his studio “every single day except Christmas,” and this exhibition is a crescendo of his daily experiments over the years. McGhee’s vivacious mind has also rendered his studio as an important place for lively conversations across generations, particularly in the Black artistic community. The background of these discussions is often set to the sound of jazz, a musical ethos of improvisation and lyrical abstraction that also emerges throughout McGhee’s practice.
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