Current Exhibitions

Nick Cave: Here Hear

Exhibition Dates: June 20 – October 11, 2015

View the Nick Cave: Here Hear website here.

Photo by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the Artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Nick Cave is a prolific artist and dancer, famous for his sculptures called soundsuits, which he often stages in public spectacle. The artist conceives some as fragile sculptural totems, and others as wearable performance suits designed for sound, mobility, and dance. Though influenced by a vibrant palette of African art, armor, found objects, fashion, and textile design, the origin of the soundsuit is rooted in social critique. Cave first created a suit in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating in 1991, envisioning an emotional shield that protected one’s race or gender while still expressing individuality. As Cave’s artwork began to resonate with vast audiences, the artist saw the soundsuits as powerful agents to capture the public imagination on a monumental scale. Cave’s artistic practice now advocates the vital importance of collective dreaming, which he actualizes through large-scale performances.

Here Hear includes a collection of approximately thirty sculptural soundsuits in the main gallery arranged in a dynamic vignette. It also includes a room of seven newly commissioned artworks surrounded by a new site-specific wall-based tapestry inspired by Cave’s childhood watching the night sky. An additional gallery will feature a selection of his recent sculpture work. Finally, the “Map in Action” room will serve as a hub for the Detroit Performance Series and display the wearable soundsuits that will come and go to performances throughout the city of Detroit. Video footage of the performances will be added to the room throughout the duration of the show, thereby becoming a living document of the entire project.

Nick Cave: Here Hear was organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Laura Mott, Curator of Contemporary Art and Design.  Cranbrook Art Museum is supported, in part, by its membership organization, ArtMembers@Cranbrook; the Museum Committee of Cranbrook Art Museum; and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. View the Nick Cave: Here Hear website here.

Designing Summer: Objects of Escape

Exhibition Dates: June 20 – August 30, 2015

Steve Frykholm, Herman Miller Summer Picnic August 21, 1970, silkscreen with lacquer finish. Image courtesy of the artist.

That summer feeling. The escapism, natural romanticism, and bitter nostalgia the mind conjures for the year’s warmest season is unmistakable. Designing Summer: Objects of Escape examines how summertime is embodied through objects of the past and present. Exclusively featuring works by Michigan designers and makers, the exhibition begins in the mid-century, when a thriving automobile industry and growing middle class led to a surge in summertime road trips up north. A postwar economic boom ushered in more leisure time, and works in this show represent both the physical and symbolic escape from America’s expanding corporate culture. Moving into the twenty-first century, designers are now seeking clever ways to reconnect with Michigan’s natural beauty and resources in an increasingly urban economy. Featuring works by Florence Schust Knoll, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson, Steve Frykholm, Bill Moss, Joey Ruiter, Fernando Bales, and Synecdoche Design, among others, these designers capture the idyll and adventure of country drives, cabins and lakes, picnic days, and starry nights, presenting a cultural narrative of summer’s evolving meaning in the Great Lakes State.

Watch Steve Frykholm discuss his iconic Herman Miller Summer Picnic posters in a video on

Designing Summer: Objects of Escape is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Shelley Selim, the Art Museum’s 2015–2016 Jeanne and Ralph Graham Assistant Curator. The exhibition is sponsored, in part, by the Clannad Foundation.

Bent, Cast & Forged: The Jewelry of Harry Bertoia

Exhibition Dates: March 14 – November 29, 2015

Harry Bertoia, Necklace, brass, c. 1940s. Collection of Cranbrook Art Museum. Photo: R. H. Hensleigh and Tim Thayer, © 2015 Estate of Harry Bertoia / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

In commemoration of the centennial of the artist’s birth, Bent, Cast & Forged: The Jewelry of Harry Bertoia is the first museum exhibition devoted to Harry Bertoia’s designs for jewelry. The former Cranbrook Academy of Art student and metalsmithing instructor has received international acclaim for his metal furniture and sculpture, but his exploration of the medium originated in jewelry design while still a high school student in Detroit. Out of the hundreds of jewelry pieces attributed to Bertoia, the majority was produced during his years at Cranbrook, and this display of over thirty works offers an early glimpse of a creative vision that would crystallize as his career matured.  Additionally, several early monotype prints are featured to illustrate how the artist harnessed the same intuitive and experimental approach to making in his planographic compositions. The objects in this exhibition highlight Bertoia’s investigations of form, dimension, and material on a concentrated and bankable scale—establishing him as a pioneer of the American Studio Jewelry movement and a master of elevating fashionable adornment to objets d’art.

The exhibition opened with an exclusive ArtMembers’ reception on March 13, from 6-8pm, featuring a lecture from Celia Bertoia, Harry Bertoia’s youngest daughter and director of the Harry Bertoia Foundation.

Bent, Cast & Forged: The Jewelry of Harry Bertoia was organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Shelley Selim, the Art Museum’s 2013-2015 Jeanne and Ralph Graham Collections Fellow. The exhibition is sponsored, in part, by Wright Auction House, Kim and Al Eiber, and the David Klein and Kate Ostrove Exhibition Fund. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue published by Cranbrook Art Museum.

50 Years Strong: The Evolution of HUB at Cranbrook

Exhibition Dates: April 25 – May 10, 2015
June 20–August 30, 2015
September 19–November 29, 2015

Horizons-Upward Bound Theme Day, 1971.
Jack Kausch, photographer. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Horizons-Upward Bound, known as HUB, has its roots in a partnership with Cranbrook Schools that began in 1965.  Originally named Horizons, it was an experimental summer enrichment program to provide a private school experience on the Cranbrook campus for low-income boys from Detroit.  Funded by a three-year grant from the Ford Foundation, the first class consisted of 52 boys from three junior high schools in Detroit. The following year, Horizons incorporated the U.S. Department of Education’s Upward Bound program and soon was renamed Horizons-Upward Bound.

Over the past fifty years, HUB has evolved into a year-round program which prepares both boys and girls with limited financial opportunities to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.  This exhibition sheds light on the history of the program and its continued affiliation with Cranbrook Schools and highlights key individuals and events that have helped make it the successful legacy it is today including the program’s directors Ben Snyder, Bill Washington, Eddie Green, and current director Darryl Taylor.  Through news clippings, program invitations, brochures and newsletters, student publications, and historic photographs, the exhibition presents a chronological history of the multi-faceted academic enrichment program known as HUB.

50 Years Strong: The Evolution of HUB at Cranbrook was organized by the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and curated by Head Archivist Leslie S. Edwards. The Center, which includes Cranbrook Archives, is supported, in part, by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Towbes Foundation of Santa Barbara, California, and many generous individual donors.

Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings 790A and 790B: Irregular Alternating Color Bands

Exhibition Dates: Ongoing
Hartmann Gallery

Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings 790A and 790B: Irregular Alternating Color Bands(1995) fill the Hartmann Gallery with serpentine bands of bold color applied directly to the wall. A pioneer of Conceptual Art, LeWitt conceived his wall drawings as a medium through which he could explore the concept of serial permutation while mining the tension between art and architecture. Wall Drawings 790A and 790B, like most of LeWitt’s wall drawings, exist only for the duration of the exhibition before being destroyed, privileging the conception of the work over its physical manifestation and demonstrating the artist’s dictum that “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” Still, the physical form of the work retains an undeniable beauty: LeWitt’s sinuous line and fulsome color together serve as an arresting counterpoint to Eliel Saarinen’s airy interior space.