Bloomfield Hills-based Cranbrook Art Museum today announced they will host the U.S. debut of the landmark exhibition Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe, the first major retrospective of the former Grosse Pointe resident, known for injecting joy and humanism into his mid-century modern designs.
Raised in Florence, Italy and educated in London, Girard moved to the United States and settled in Michigan in 1937, where he forged relationships with modernist innovators from Cranbrook, including Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames.
Girard later established a modern design office, gallery, and retail space in Grosse Pointe, also designing several modern homes in the area. He curated the exhibition For Modern Living for the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in 1949 and introduced modern designs to the museum’s Great Hall, which was considered “one of the most successful ever held at the institute,” attracting more than 150,000 visitors, according to a DIA bulletin.
“Girard was a modern Renaissance figure, working in nearly every field of design, from textiles and furniture to graphics and architecture,” says Andrew Blauvelt, director of Cranbrook Art Museum. “Girard would champion the total design of what we today call the company’s customer experience, from the high-flying style of Braniff Airlines to his groundbreaking design of New York’s La Fonda del Sol restaurant. Given Girard’s strong Michigan and Cranbrook connections, it seems fitting that we should shine a light on his prodigious talents.”
The exhibition will include hundreds of examples of Girard’s work, including furniture, textiles, graphics, architecture, and sculptures, as well as drawings and collages that haven’t been shown before.
Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, the exhibit will run from June 17-Oct. 8, and Cranbrook will be hosting several Girard-themed events, including an ArtMembers preview on June 16 and a presentation on opening day from 1-2:30 p.m. There will also be a one-day symposium entitled “Uncovering the Fantasy and Magic of Alexander Girard,” on July 22. More information can be found here.