An Exceptional Presentation Copy
Roy Slade et al: DESIGN IN AMERICA: THE CRANBROOK VISION 1925-1950. New York: Abrams [in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts] 1983. First edition. A near-fine softcover book in thick, printed wrappers with trivial wear overall, primarily light spotting to wrappers.
Presentation copy with twelve signatures of catalog participants, including an INSCRIPTION by Roy Slade [President CAA]; SIGNED and DATED [Dec. 11, 1983] by Ray Eames, and SIGNED by Sculptor Marshall Fredericks, Metalsmith Richard Thomas, as well as catalog contributors Mary Riordan, Joan Marter, John Gerard, David G. De Long, Martin Eidelberg, Christa C. Mayer Thurman, R. Craig Miller, and Robert Judson Clark.
The Eames' signature from Sunday, December 11, 1983 leads us to believe that this book was signed during a preview for the Exhibition, which opened on Wednesday December 14, 1983.
The Slade inscription reads "To Wilma [?] / Roy Slade / President / CAA ----------- / Roy Slade wishes / you well !"
The preface by Frederick J. Cummings and Philippe de Montebello states: "The idea of a show that would present the history of Cranbrook in its early years was first suggested by Frederick J. Cummings in early 1978. This idea was immediately and enthusiastically taken up by Roy Slade, President of the Academy, who, since his arrival in 1977, had been aware of the extraordinary level of achievement that marked the institution's beginnings. At the same time, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was exploring the idea of an international exhibition devoted to Eliel and Eero Saarinen; a meeting between Slade and R. Craig Miller, Assistant Curator in The American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art who was completing his doctorial research on the Saarinens, led to a joint venture by the three institutions. The Metropolitan's participation in the organization of the show was secured with the support of James Pilgrim, Deputy Director, and Lewis Sharpe, Curator and Administrator of the Department of American Art. A group of scholars was then invited to serve on a Scientific Committee to organize the exhibition; their contributions to the realization of the show and enthusiastic involvement in the assembling of this catalogue cannot be overestimated . . .
". . . The assistance of Cranbrook of Art, particularly of its President, Roy Slade, who has been continuously involved in the development of the exhibition, has been crucial; the show would not have been conceived without his participation."
9 x 11 softcover book with 352 pages, with 265 illustrations (including 62 color plates). An exhaustive visual compendium of the modern movement in America as seen from the Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Text by Robert Judson Clark, David G. De Long, Martin Eidelberg, J. David Farmer, John Gerard, Neil Harris, Joan Marter, R. Craig Miller, Mary Riordan, Roy Slade, Davira S. Taragin, Christa C. Mayer Thurman, Frederick J. Cummings, Philippe de Montebello, Mary Riordan and John Gerard.
This is where Charles Eames met Ray Eames met Harry Bertoia met Ralph Rapson met Eliel Saarinen met Florence Knoll met... etc. You get the idea. Cranbrook could be called the Bauhaus of America in terms of its importance as a crucible of American Modernism.
Book includes many rare and previously unpublished images, blueprints, diagrams, etc. Artisans represented in this volume include Edmund Bacon, Benjamin Baldwin, Harry Bertoia, Charles Dusenbury, Charles Eames, Ray Kaiser Eames, Jean Eschmann, Marshall Fredericks, Waylands De Santis Gregory, Maija Grotell, Lillian Holm, Arthur Kirk, Florence Schust Knoll Bassett, Donald Knorr, Jack Larsen, Harvey Littleton, Leza Mcvey, Carl Milles, Wallace Mitchell, Ralph Rapson, Tony Rosenthal, Ed Rossbach, David Rowland, David Runnells, Eero Saarinen Eva Saarinen Swanson, Eliel Saarinen, Loja Saarinen, Robert Sailors, Zoltan Sepeshy, Marianne Dusenbury Hammarstrom, Toshiko Takaezu, Richard Thomas, William Watson, Harry Weese, And Maja Wirde.
From the book: "It is difficult to imagine the story of design in America without Cranbrook--that still vital community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, whose faculty and students have encompassed world-famous architects, sculptors, weavers, designers, metalworkers, ceramists, and painters.
"These include the prominent architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen; the furniture and interior designers Florence Knoll and Charles and Ray Eames; designer of fine silverware and sculptor Harry Bertoia; ceramist Maija Grotell; designers Loja Saarinen and her daughter, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson; sculptor Carl Milles; and painter Zoltan Sepeshy, among others.
"There is hardly an art or craft, in America or abroad, that has not been influenced directly or indirectly by the Cranbrook Academy of Art. No wonder Cranbrook has been called America’s democratic counterpart to that great German school, the Bauhaus. Design In America chronicles the development of Cranbrook’s ideals during the critical period between 1925 and 1950.
"A dozen experts describe the various arts and crafts as they flourished there, offering insightful appreciations of the gifted individuals who developed their own interpretations of the original Cranbrook vision. The superb illustrations include full-color presentations of memorable buildings, striking interiors, and individual furnishings, as well as magnificent design drawings ranging from entire building projects to spoons, knives, and coffee sets. Anyone interested in the development of twentieth-century taste and aesthetics in the major modern art and craft forms will find endless pleasure in Design In America."
Cranbrook has been a breeding ground for modernism since the late 1920s, as influential in many ways as the Bauhaus was in Germany under Walter Gropius. If you doubt this statement, google the Cranbrook Academy and its art museum and try to identify an important American modernist designer who has not been a student, faculty member or resident at Cranbrook. The school's heritage boasts a legacy of modernist designers: Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and so on. Father of ergonomics Niels Diffrient studied there in the 1950s, along with Jack Lenor Larsen and David Rowland. Diffrient has told us that he considers his time at Cranbrook to be his "age of awakening." Despite a modest yearly class size numbering less than 220, the school's graduates continue to have great influence in the world of design.
At the center of the development at Cranbrook is one of the most influential characters in modern design, architect Eliel Saarinen, father of more well-known Eero Saarinen. The elder Saarinen both designed the campus for the Cranbrook Academy of Art and recruited many of the school's renowned figures in the 1930s. His passion for the making of objects of all types and the necessity of keeping the hand involved is everywhere in his work, from his house to the original curriculum at Cranbrook. Capable of designing everything from large-scale buildings to diminutive silverware, he is representative of the best designers, who will equally take on textiles, glassware, chairs and architecture. It is this openness and his respect for process, materials and common objects that still stand out.
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