On a four-year international tour of Europe and the United States, the landmark exhibition
Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future
—the first major museum retrospective of this Finnish-born American architect’s short but prolific career—will be jointly presented at the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts September 13–January 4. An opening-weekend lecture on Sunday, September 14, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, with Susan Saarinen, the architect’s daughter, and a weekend symposium October 10–12, concluding at the Saarinen & Saarinen-designed Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, one of the finest examples of modern ecclesiastical architecture, are among the related programs celebrating the exhibition. (A complete listing follows.)
Organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, and the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., with the support of the Yale University School of Architecture, Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future features never-before-seen sketches, working drawings, models, photographs, furnishings, films, and other ephemera from various archives and private collections. Exploring more than 50 of Saarinen’s built and unbuilt projects, the exhibition provides a unique opportunity to consider his innovations in the use of new materials and construction techniques within the larger context of postwar modern architecture.
In this collaborative presentation, the Walker Art Center will feature Saarinen’s furnishings and residences as well as his designs for churches and academic and corporate campuses, while the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will present his designs for airports, memorials, and embassies as well as his early work within the context of its modernist design collection.
From the sweeping curves of the TWA terminal JFK Airport and the soaring Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the elegant simplicity of the Pedestal Chair, Eero Saarinen created some of the most powerful and enduring expressions of modern architecture and design. Although his career was cut short by his early death at age 51 in 1961, Saarinen was one of the most celebrated architects of his time, both at home and abroad. Born in Finland in 1910, he coincidentally shared the same birth date as his famous father, architect Eliel Saarinen, who designed the buildings and grounds of the famed Cranbrook educational campus in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Emigrating to the United States at the age of 13, Eero grew up at Cranbrook, immersed in its artistic culture, and completed his architectural studies at Yale University before eventually returning to Cranbrook to teach and practice architecture in partnership with his father on many important commissions. With the death of Eliel in 1950, Christ Church Lutheran (1947–1949) in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood would be the last completed project by Saarinen and Saarinen.
Saarinen established his own firm and enjoyed a fame that surpassed that of his father’s, attracting and nurturing top talent from around the world, many of whom went on to have significant practices of their own. He achieved international acclaim while working out of a surprisingly modest office in Bloomfield Hills. An intense and immersive environment, the office operated nearly around the clock. Saarinen’s practice spanned airports, embassies, national memorials, corporate and academic campuses, churches, private residences, and furniture. Some of his peers criticized him for having a different style for each job, but he shrugged off the criticism, rejecting the dogma of an orthodox modernism by letting the subject and site guide his solutions.
Saarinen helped create important expressions of American identity such as the United Sates Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as St. Louis Gateway Arch, which celebrated the country’s westward expansion with a simple form of monumental proportions; airports in both New York and Washington, D.C., that thrilled people with the glamour of international travel and served as an entry to the country’s business and political capitals; and his pioneering development of the postwar corporate campus for such industrial giants as General Motors, Bell Telephone, and IBM, including its manufacturing and training center in Rochester, Minnesota (1956–1958). These buildings used dynamic forms and structural innovations to capture the optimism of mid-20th-century America, while their variety came to represent a national ideal of unbounded choice.
Screened at both venues, Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, an 18-minute documentary film by KDN Films produced by Bill Ferehawk, Bill Kubota, and Ed Moore, chronicles the life and work of the architect, focusing not only on his buildings in their cultural context but also the collaborative, 24-hour-a-day process that produced them. Interviews with more than a dozen people tell the Saarinen story in a search to understand his genius and his little-understood, yet influential, design process. Included are personal anecdotes and commentary by key figures in Saarinen’s life: intimate family friend Florence Knoll Bassett; critic Vincent Scully; and architects such as Kevin Roche, César Pelli, and Ralph Rapson.
Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue that addresses the themes and framework of the exhibition, with sections devoted to building types and the architect’s milieu. An opening essay written by co-editors Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen and Donald Albrecht introduces the themes of the book, which is composed of two main sections, an annotated chronology, selected Saarinen writings, and appreciations by former collaborators. Included are essays by a team of researchers and scholars that situate Saarinen and his work in his social, intellectual, and artistic milieu, as well as the most complete portfolio of Saarinen projects to date presenting a chronological survey of more than 100 projects. The catalogue, published by Yale University Press, is available at the Walker Art Center Shop and the Museum Shop at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. $65.
Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, and the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., with the support of the Yale University School of Architecture. The exhibition is curated by Donald Albrecht, independent curator and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of the City of New York.
Walker After Hours Preview Party
Friday, September 12, 9 pm–12 midnight
Walker Art Center
$35 ($25 Walker/MIA members)
Become a new Walker member and receive one free After Hours ticket while they remain.
Celebrate the opening of the exhibition at an After Hours party featuring complimentary Wolfgang Puck appetizers, cash bars, a city building art lab activity, live music by Roma di Luna, DJ Mike the 2600 King, a screening of The Gateway Arch: A Reflection of America, and the always popular Party People Pictures. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 612.375.7600 or visit walkerart.org/tickets.
Susan Saarinen and Mark Coir on Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future
Sunday, September 14, 2 pm
Pillsbury Auditorium, Minneapolis Institute of Arts
$5 (Free for MIA members)
Susan Saarinen, daughter of Eero Saarinen and a landscape architect practicing in Colorado, reflects on growing up in the artistic world created by her father and grandfather Eliel Saarinen. Mark Coir, director of Archives and Cultural Properties, Cranbrook Educational Community, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, talks about the lasting influence of these two men on the institution and the broader world of architecture and design. To reserve tickets, call 612.870.6323 or register online at artsmia.org.
Eero Saarinen: Beyond the Measly ABC
Friday–Sunday, October 10–12
University of Minnesota College of Design, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center, and Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis
$40 ($25 Walker/MIA/AIA members)
Fee includes lunch and admission to the Walker and MIA on Saturday. Friday and Sunday events are not ticketed.
For tickets or more information, call 612.870.6323 or visit artsmia.org.
This in-depth symposium examines the legacy of one of the modern masters of architecture. The three-day event begins with a conversation with architectural photographer Balthazar Korab and features presentations by architectural historians and curators—both local and national—on the reassessment of Saarinen’s work and its impact on contemporary design practice.
Friday, October 10
Rendezvous with the U: A Conversation with Balthazar Korab
Lecture, 7 pm
Bell Museum of Natural History Auditorium, 10 Church Street SE, Minneapolis
Reception, 8:30 pm
Ralph Rapson Hall, 89 Church Street SE, Minneapolis
Sponsored by University of Minnesota College of Design, AIA Minneapolis
For more information, call the College of Design, 612-624-4743 www.design.umn.edu.
Balthazar Korab is an architect and photographer who worked with Le Corbusier before coming to the United States in 1955 to join Eero Saarinen and Associates, where he began experimenting with the use of photography as part of the design development process. In 1964 Korab received the prestigious AIA Medal for Architectural Photography, recognizing his worldwide coverage of architects such as Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe. Korab is joined in conversation by John Comazzi, Assistant Professor of Architecture, College of Design, who is currently working on a biography of Korab.
Saturday, October 11
Location: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 Third Avenue South
Registration, MIA Third Avenue Entrance
Coffee, Fountain Court
Conference sessions, Pillsbury Auditorium
Jennifer Komar Olivarez, Associate Curator, Architecture, Design, Decorative Arts, Craft, and Sculpture, Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Andrew Blauvelt, Design Director and Curator, Walker Art Center
Donald Albrecht, Curator of Architecture & Design, Museum of the City of New York, curator of Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, and co-editor of the accompanying publication Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future (Yale University Press, 2006), on the reassessment of Saarinen.
Jennifer Komar Olivarez, Associate Curator, Architecture, Design, Decorative Arts, Craft, and Sculpture at MIA, and essay contributor to Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future on Saarinen’s architecture of sacred spaces.
Coffee break, Fountain Court
Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Assistant Professor, Yale School of Architecture and co-editor of the publication Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, on Saarinen’s search for form.
Q&A with Donald Albrecht, Jennifer Komar Olivarez, and Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, moderated by Andrew Blauvelt
Lunch in Reception Hall, Target Wing, MIA
Location: Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis
Nancy Miller, Center for World Heritage Studies and Adjunct Assistant Professor, College of Design, University of Minnesota, on Saarinen’s corporate campuses.
Beatriz Colomina, Professor of Architecture and Founding Director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University, on Saarinen’s use of the media.
Q&A with Beatriz Colomina and Nancy Miller, moderated by Andrew Blauvelt
Christopher Monkhouse, Eloise W. Martin Curator and Chairman, Department of European Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago, and essay contributor to Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, on the design of the Miller House.
Tom Fisher, Professor and Dean of the College of Design, University of Minnesota, on Saarinen’s legacy in contemporary architecture.
Q&A with Christopher Monkhouse and Tom Fisher, moderated by Andrew Blauvelt
Sunday, October 12
Christ Church Lutheran
3244 34th Avenue South, Minneapolis
Kristine Carlson, Pastor, Christ Church Lutheran
Ozayr Saloojee, Assistant Professor of Architecture, College of Design, University of Minnesota, presents new research on Christ Church Lutheran accompanied by an exhibition at CCL.
Timo Tuomi, Head of Research at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, on the connections between Eliel and Eero Saarinen’s work.
This program is made possible with generous support from Aaron and Carol Mack.
Arty Pants: Your Tuesday Playdate
Tuesdays, September 9 and 23; October 14 and 28
11 am–1 pm
For kids ages 3–5 and adults
Walker Art Center
Free with gallery admission; Walker members and children ages 12 and under free
“The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths.”
—artist Bruce Nauman
What do hip kids and their (possibly) cooler parents do to spark creativity? Travel back to the time of sunken living rooms, tulip chairs, and secret agents as you and your tot become art spies! Inspired by the works of Eero Saarinen, take on adventurous art-making, mysterious movies, and more during September and October.
Arty Pants: Your Tuesday Playdate is sponsored by Ameriprise Financial. As part of the Walker Art Center’s Raising Creative Kids Initiative, additional support is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Target Family Day at the MIA—Think Big!
Sunday, October 12
11 am–5 pm, Free
Big ideas can lead to great things. Be inspired by Eero Saarinen’s model for the St. Louis arch and other inventive designs.
Free First Saturday: Styled by Saarinen
Saturday, January 3
10 am–3 pm, Free
Discover the design innovations of visionary architect Eero Saarinen then make a chair or building in your own unique style in a series of exploratory hands-on activities.
Free First Saturday is sponsored by Ameriprise Financial. Program support by Medtronic Foundation. As part of the Walker Art Center’s Raising Creative Kids Initiative, additional support is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Third Thursday at the MIA
Mad for Mod
Thursday, September 18
6–9 pm, Free; Film $5 (Free MIA members)
Revel in futuristic design from the past. This 20th-century spotlight will have you waxing nostalgic for all things retro. Tap your wingtips to live jazz from the Mike Cramer Quartet. Tipple a vodka gimlet. Tour the exhibition and meander through the Modernist Design galleries. Plus, catch the classic short films of Charles and Ray Eames, including Powers of Ten.
MIA Gallery Tours
September 16–October 31
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, 1 pm
Thursdays, 7 pm
November 1–January 4
Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, 1 pm
Thursdays, 7 pm
Private tours by arrangement.
Call 612.870.3140 at least 3 weeks in advance.
MIA and Walker Gallery Tours
These tours provide the opportunity to see both exhibitions on the same day.
Friday, November 7, 1 pm (MIA), 3 pm (Walker)
Sunday, November 16, 1 pm (MIA), 3 pm (Walker)
Saturday, December 6, 1 pm (MIA), 3 pm (Walker)
Walker Gallery Tours
All tours free with gallery admission; Thursday night tours are free.
Thursday, September 18, 2 pm
Sunday, September 21, 2 pm
Sunday, September 28, 2 pm
Thursday, October 16, 2 pm
Saturday, October 18, 2 pm
Sunday, October 26, 2 pm
Saturday, November 15, 2 pm
Thursday, November 20, 2 pm
Thursday, November 20, Sound Bites Talks About Art, 6:30 and 7 pm
Sunday, November 23, 2 pm
Thursday, December 11, 2 pm
Sunday, December 14, 2 pm
Sunday, December 18, 2 pm