Welcome to the online exhibition of Saarinen House: Presidents/Residents, 1946—1994. This show examines the artistic work and legacies of the four presidents of Cranbrook Academy of Art that followed Eliel Saarinen: Zoltan Sepeshy, Glen Paulsen, Wallace Mitchell, and Roy Slade. While Saarinen House served as the official home of these presidents from just 1951 to 1990, the exhibition traces their tenures as presidents from 1946 until 1994—a period of seismic social and artistic changes that were reflected in the work and culture of the Academy and reverberated in the rooms of Saarinen House.
Through paintings and drawings on loan from Cranbrook Art Museum (see the Exhibition Checklist), as well as historic photographs and ephemera from Cranbrook Archives, this exhibition surveys the Academy leadership and its student life during the second half of the 20th century.
Presidents/Residents was on display in Saarinen House from April 28 to November 25, 2018. This online exhibition includes and expands on the material in the show, curated by Kevin Adkisson, the Center’s 2016-2019 Collections Fellow and current Curatorial Associate.
The founding President of Cranbrook Academy of Art also served as Cranbrook’s architect. Saarinen attracted an eclectic assemblage of talented students and artists to work, collaborate, and experiment on the growing campus.
International master of egg tempera painting, Sepeshy came to Cranbrook as instructor in painting and led the Academy through its accreditation as a degree-granting institution, formalizing the structure of the Academy.
An architect known for his educational and religious designs, Paulsen maintained his professional practice while instituting major changes to the Academy’s curricula, finances, and faculty during a turbulent moment in history.
Detroit-native Mitchell dedicated his career to Cranbrook, as instructor in painting, director of the Museum, and finally president. Always producing work, he adapted the Academy’s expectations and operations for the times.
Infusing the Cranbrook campus with a new sense of appreciation for its own past, Slade celebrated the campus (including restoring Saarinen House), and brought international attention to the current work of the Academy.
View photographs of the exhibition installation and learn about the exhibition furniture design.
Learn about the president’s works featured in the exhibition.