• Binion/Saarinen: A McArthur Binion Project
    McArthur Binion and Eliel Saarinen
    Laura Mott
    Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfleld Hills
    Nov 17, 2018 to Mar 10, 2019
    Cranbrook Art Museum

McArthur Binion, two, oil paint stick and paper on board, 2018. 48 x 40 x 2 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Binion/Saarinen is series of new paintings by artist McArthur Binion inspired by the architect Eliel Saarinen and his historic landmark campus of Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Binion graduated from in 1973 with an MFA in painting and received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017. Binion’s interest in the architect and the campus is consistent with his strategy to mine his personal history within his artistic practice. As an exercise in autobiographical cartography, Binion’s new works will be derived from research of Saarinen’s biography and archive, and exhibited alongside selections of the architect’s blueprints, concept sketches, and design objects, as well as early work from his son Eero Saarinen. Accompanying the exhibition, Cranbrook Art Museum will publish an essay based on interviews with the artist.

McArthur Binion (b. 1946) is an American artist who lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. For over f40 years, Binion has maintained an active painting practice that draws from autobiographical experience, African American narrative, and the visual elements of modernism. Recently, Binion was a featured artist at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia; Prospect.3; and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and has been included in group shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Detroit Institute of Arts, Kemper Museum of Art, amongst others. His works are in major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Detroit Institute of Arts, New Orleans Museum of Art, Smithsonian Phillips Collection, Studio Museum Harlem, and Cranbrook Art Museum. Binion earned his BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950) ranks among Finland’s most important architects and also had a profound influence on the development of modern architecture in the United States. Saarinen designed the vast majority of the historic landmark Cranbrook campus located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and served as the first president of Cranbrook Academy of Art. Saarinen’s comprehensive design philosophy meant that no element of the built environment should be overlooked, and his design contributions range from architecture to tableware. Saarinen’s other major projects include the Helsinki Central Railway Station, the National Musuem of Finland, the First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, and the Des Moines Art Center. Eliel Saarinen studied at the Helsinki Polytechnic, now the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland. His writings include The City: Its Growth, Its Decay, and Its Future (Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1943) and The Search for Form in Art and Architecture (Dover Publications, 1948). Saarinen received the AIA Gold Medal in 1947.

Laura Mott is senior curator of contemporary art and design at Cranbrook Art Museum since 2013. In 2016, she was named a Warhol Curatorial Fellow in support of the project Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality (2019). Mott has held various curatorial positions at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Gothenburg Konsthall, IASPIS in Stockholm, Mission 17 in San Francisco, and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. She holds an MA in curatorial studies from Bard College, and BFA in art history and a BA in studio art from the University of Texas.

Founded in 1904, Cranbrook’s mission is to provide extraordinary education, to encourage creativity and innovation, and to value learners of all ages and backgrounds. Cranbrook develops people who will live with purpose and integrity, create with passion, explore with curiosity, and strive for excellence.