Exhibit Explores Architect’s Impact on Campus, World

Architect Eero Saarinen (1910-1961), who created some of the most iconic designs of the 20th century — including several at Yale — is the focus of an exhibition opening on Friday, Feb. 19, in two venues on campus.

Yale is both the last stop on an international tour of the exhibition, titled “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future,” and an important part of its genesis — as it was the creation of the Eero Saarinen Collection at Sterling Memorial Library in 2002 that made the show possible.

“It is fitting that the exhibition is concluding its tour at Yale, where Saarinen studied architecture and designed some of his most significant buildings, and where the major archive devoted to his work resides,” says Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

Talk by ‘Elements of Style’ artist

Furthermore, he notes, the show will be presented in buildings designed by two of Saarinen’s contemporaries: Paul Rudolph Hall, named after its architect, and the Yale University Art Gallery, designed by Louis Kahn. “The resulting dialogue among three of the greatest, most distinctive architects of their time promises to their time promises to be a powerful architectural experience,” says Stern.

Saarinen was one of the most prolific, unorthodox and controversial architects of the 20th century and was renowned for his use of progressive construction techniques and his unique personal aesthetic. Saarinen gave shape to the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, the 630-foot-high Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the General Motors headquarters outside Detroit and the “tulip chair.” Yale is home to three Saarinen-designed buildings: David S. Ingalls Rink (1958) and Samuel Morse College and its companion Ezra Stiles College (both 1962).

“Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future” includes never-before-exhibited sketches, working drawings, models, photographs, furnishings, films, and other material, all drawn from various archives and collections internationally. Unique to the Yale presentation will be a special display devoted to the projects that Saarinen designed for the University, including a short film, original drawings, photographs and digital imagery.

The installation at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery in Paul Rudolph Hall opens with a display of drawings, letters, photographs and other materials dating from Saarinen’s years as an architecture student at Yale — when his designs ranged from a residence for a college dean to a $1,000 bill, to a synagogue.

This portion of the exhibit also includes four sections: “Building for Post-War America,” focusing on his public and semi-public buildings; “Creating Corporate Style”; “Forging Community,” looking at his work at colleges and universities; and “Saarinen and Yale.”

The Yale Art Gallery installation features diverse materials related to Saarinen’s early life and domestic projects, along with 15 examples of his furniture.


Opening lecture

Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, associate professor of architecture at Yale, will present a lecture titled “Eero Saarinen’s Search for Architecture” at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, in the Robert L. McNeil Jr. Lecture Hall at the Yale Art Gallery. Pelkonen led the curatorial research project that formed the scholarly basis for the exhibition and co-edited the accompanying catalogue.

Watch the Yale Calendar for information about other talks, tours and programs being held in conjunction with the exhibition.

“Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future” was curated by Donald Albrecht of the Museum of the City of New York. The Yale Art Gallery installation was organized by John Stuart Gordon, the Benjamin Attmore Hewitt Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts, with Emily Orr, the Marcia Brady Tucker Fellow, Department of American Decorative Arts. The Yale School of Architecture presentation was organized by Dean Sakamoto, critic and director of exhibitions at the school.

The Yale School of Architecture Gallery in Paul Rudolph Hall, 180 York St., is open to the public free of charge 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 203-432-2288 or visit www.architecture.yale.edu.

The Yale University Art Gallery, located at 1111 Chapel St. (corner of York Street), is open to the public free of charge 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; until 8 p.m. on Thursday through June; and 1-6 p.m. Sunday. For additional information, visit http://artgallery.yale.edu or call 203-432-0600.

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