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Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future

Blog
25 Aug 2008
DA

The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts jointly
present this first major museum retrospective of architect Eero
Saarinen’s short but prolific career. Saarinen was one of the most
celebrated, unorthodox, and controversial masters of 20th-century
architecture. In many ways he was the architect of what has been dubbed
“the American century,” the post-World War II era when the United
States emerged as an influential world superpower.

   

Eero Saarinen, IBM Manufacturing and Training Facility, Rochester, Minnesota, circa 1958
Photographer Balthazar Korab © Balthazar Korab Ltd

Although Saarinen’s most iconic and publicly recognizable design is the
soaring Gateway Arch in St. Louis, his work spanned many different
areas of architectural practice, including the design of airports,
corporate and academic campuses, churches and private residences, and
furniture. Although criticized by his peers at the time for having a
different style for each project, Saarinen rejected the dogma of an
orthodox modernism and instead adopted a varied approach to
architectural design, letting the subject and site guide his inventive
solutions. His resulting body of work includes such masterpieces as the
sweeping concrete curves of the TWA Terminal (1956–1962) at New York’s
JFK Airport; the grandeur of General Motors Technical Center
(1948–1956), dubbed an “industrial Versailles” by the media; and the
iconic Womb Chair and Ottoman (1946–1948) or the innovative Pedestal
(1954–1957) series of tables and chairs, both for Knoll and all classics of mid-century modernism.

 

Eero Saarinen, TWA Terminal, New York Int. (now John F. Kennedy Int.) Airport, New York, circa 1962 - Photographer Balthazar Korab © Balthazar Korab Ltd. United States Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, Missouri, under construction, 1965 - From the Collections of Arteaga Photos Ltd.

Featured in the exhibition are never-before-seen sketches, working
drawings, models, photographs, furnishings, films, and other ephemera
from various archives and private collections. Exploring his entire
output of more than 50 built and unbuilt projects, it provides a unique
opportunity to consider Saarinen’s innovations in the use of new
materials, technologies, 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.

Eero Saarinen with A Combined Living-Dining-Room-Study project model, created for Architectural Forum magazine,  circa 1937 -  Photographer unknown - Courtesy Eero Saarinen Collection. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University

Eero Saarinen, Patent drawing for pedestal chairs, June 7, 1960     Courtesy Eero Saarinen Collection. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University
Eero Saarinen, Deere and Company Administrative Center, Moline, Illinois, circa 1963 - Photographer Harold Corsini - Courtesy Eero Saarinen Collection. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University

Eero Saarinen, Miller House, Columbus, Indiana, circa 1957                                   Photographer Ezra Stoller © Ezra Stoller/ESTO

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

The Walker Art Center, Target Gallery
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, U.S. Bank Gallery

From September 13, 2008 to January 4, 2009

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