The Cranbrook Legacy
Lots 284, 285, and 286 were made by different designers, from different countries, in different media. Each represents a distinct moment in the evolution of design during the first half of the 20th Century. What they have in common is time and place: each was made during the 1930s—a pivotal decade during which both Art Deco and Modernism reigned—and each at some point called Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan its home.
Cranbrook Academy of Art was founded in 1932 and under the leadership of its president, Eliel Saarinen, it became one of America’s most prestigious and influential artistic institutions. During the 1930s, its campus was inhabited by some of the 20th Century’s most important artists and designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, Zoltan Sepeshy, Waylande Gregory, and the Saarinen family. It is aptly referred to as "the cradle of American Modernism." Characterized by its multidisciplinary approach to art education, the breadth of aesthetic genres and media that were explored by Cranbrook’s students and faculty was profound. Lot 285, a rug designed by Eliel and Loja Saarinen and executed at Studio Loja Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, is a product of the robust textiles program at Cranbrook. Wayland Gregory’s “Fecundity” vase (lot 286) was executed during his first year as a professor of the academy’s ceramics department, and shows influences of Cubism and Art Deco.
The Academy’s art collection contained even greater artistic diversity, encompassing fine and decorative arts and artifacts from across the globe and across centuries. The present sugar bowl by Henri Lapparra (lot 284), executed during the same era as the Saarinen rug and Gregory ceramic vase, was once in the Cranbrook collection. Its acquisition by Cranbrook is exemplary of the institution’s deep appreciation for craft and design of all kinds. Together, the following three lots represent the creative diversity that make Cranbrook such a celebrated institution.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's
Signature: with two French hallmarks and Cranbrook Art Museum's accesssion number 1930.77 in red lacquer
Third International Exhibition of Contemporary Industrial Art, 1930-1931, The American Federation of Arts 1930-1931, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 15-November 10, 1930, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 1-28, 1930, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, January 19-February 15, 1931, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, March 11-April 5, 1931
Art Deco, Finch College Museum of Art, New York, October 14-November 30, 1970
Art Deco, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, July-September 1971
Third International Exhibition of Contemporary Industrial Art, International Exhibition of Metalwork and Cotton Textiles, exh. cat., The American Federation of Arts, 1930, no. 169
Judth Applegate, Art Deco, exh. cat., New York, 1970, no. 392
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Art Deco, exh. cat., Minneapolis, 1971, no. 164
Katerine Morrison McClinton, Art Deco, A Guide for Collectors, New York, 1972, p. 162 (for the present lot illustrated)
Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet, The Cranbrook Collections, New York, 1972, pp. 7, 9 (for the present lot illustrated)
Cranbrook Academy of Art Collection
Sotheby's Parke-Bernet, New York, May 2, 1972, lot 31
Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner