Photo Friday: Cranbrook’s Super Bowl

Ralph Rapson (left, holdign the football), plays football with fellow Cranbrook Academy of Art students. September, 1939. Richard P. Raseman/Cranbrook Archives

Ralph Rapson (right, holding the football), plays football with fellow Cranbrook Academy of Art students. September, 1939. Richard P. Raseman/Cranbrook Archives.

Okay, so “super bowl” might be overstating it. Still, this photo of Cranbrook Academy of Art students enjoying an afternoon game on campus should get you into an appropriately Cranbrook-y mood for the upcoming NFL Super Bowl. So far we’ve identified Ralph Rapson, noted mid-century architect and long-time head of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture, in the white shirt holding the football. If anyone identifies the other players, though, please let us know in the comments!

Touchdown in Bloomfield Hills: The Detroit Lions Come to Cranbrook

As Superbowl season engulfs America and the Detroit Lions’ seemingly endless search for a new head coach comes to a close, we at Cranbrook look fondly back at the days when the Lions were a seasonal presence here on campus.  You might be forgiven for not immediately associating a 100+ year-old arts and education campus with pro football, but get ready to be schooled: the Lions used Cranbrook’s bucolic campus as their training ground for a number of years.

Detroit Lions players and coaching staff arrive at Cranbrook School for training camp. Pontiac Press, date unknown.

Detroit Lions players and coaching staff arrive at Cranbrook School for training camp. Pontiac Press, date unknown.

Continue reading

Surely Shirley: an Early Knoll Textile

Architect Ralph Rapson may be a household word, especially among aficionados of mid-century modern architecture.  But few likely know of the creative talents of his first wife, Shirley Fletcher.  Just out of high school in 1941, Shirley enrolled in the Intermediate School at Cranbrook Academy of Art.  Like many other students of the day, she spent time in various departments, but found her niche in the weaving department under Marianne Strengell.  While here, she developed a series of block-printed textile designs.  Though she did not continue past her first year (she left to marry Ralph!), Shirley continued to design textiles after she left Cranbrook.

In 1944, Hans Knoll and Ralph Rapson (who was designing furniture at the time for Knoll) discussed the formation of a textile division within Knoll.  Their idea was to introduce contemporary textiles that would complement the modern furniture being produced by the company.  The following year, Rapson brought  Shirley’s designs to the attention of Hans Knoll and her textile “Isles” became one of the earliest printed fabrics at Knoll.  Marianne Strengell may also have contributed to Knoll’s decision to feature “Isles” which was published as part of an assemblage of Academy of Art student “textile studies” in the July 1945 issue of Arts and Architecture.

IMG_1571

“Isles” by Shirley Fletcher Rapson in Arts and Architecture, July 1945.

In October, Hans Knoll wrote Rapson that even though they were “very anxious to do something with Shirley’s fabrics,” due to the shortage of materials during the war, they had to wait until adequate supplies of cloth could be acquired.  The pattern was slightly altered (notice the solid in-fill blocks) when Florence Schust Knoll used “Isles” for drapery in the Rockefeller family offices at Rockefeller Center in 1946.

"Furniture by H.G. Knoll & Associates," Arts & Architecture, September 1947, p. 24. Cranbrook Academy of Art Library.

“Furniture by H.G. Knoll & Associates,” Arts & Architecture, September 1947, p. 24. Cranbrook Academy of Art Library.

The Knoll Textile Division debuted in February 1947 in a new Knoll showroom in New York.  Shirley Rapson textiles were part of the collection (a slightly different version of “Isles” was offered in four different color ways), along with designs by Cranbrook’s Marianne Strengell and Antoinette “Toni” Webster Prestini.

Image

Shirley Rapson’s”Isles” at the Rockefeller Center family office building, 1946.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Photo Friday: Movie Magic

Cranbrook Academy of Art students participate in the filming of Jazz, CAA student Joe Munro's first experimental film. 1943, Cranbrook archives.

Cranbrook Academy of Art students participate in the filming of Jazz, Joe Munro’s first experimental film, 1943. Cranbrook archives.

Born and raised in Michigan, Joe Munro worked at Cranbrook as a photographer and teacher. Here he works on his first film, Jazz, gesticulating wildly at his actors while his crew, made up entirely of CAA students, looks on. Munro left Cranbrook shortly after this film was completed, joining the US military and serving in WWII as a wartime photographer.  With the end of the war he began a long career as a freelance photojournalist, working for LIFE, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. His archives are held by the Ohio Historical Society are definitely worth a look.

West to East: Cranbrook School Chairs Return

The scene feels like the opening shot in a movie: a man browses a flea market, aimlessly brushing his hands over knickknacks while he waits for something to catch his attention. A pair of chairs  jump out at him, their warm brown wood and right angles crying out for his attention.  He investigates them, noting their early 20th century construction and the curious metal design inset at the crest of the chairs.  They look familiar, he thinks, and the camera zooms out as he purchases them and takes them home.

Cranbrook School Dining Hall side chair, designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1928.

Cranbrook School Dining Hall side chair, designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1928. The chairs discovered in California are identical.

Continue reading

Not Quite Photo Friday: Hello from Norway*

Finnish postcard, 1921. Sent from "Jack Booth," John Lord Booth. Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

Finnish postcard, 1921. Sent from John Lord Booth. Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

In honor of the Midwest’s own recently departed polar vortex, we thought we’d highlight we’d highlight a historic postcard from the Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel Papers at Cranbrook Archives. It appears that these Norwegian citizens are liking the cold about as much as we liked our own winter storm. Honestly, though, they should be happier – at least they have a reindeer to keep them company. Stay warm, everyone!

*Ed. note: eagle-eyed readers may have noted that we accidentally wrote “Finland,” when clearly this postcard is from Norway. Our only excuse is that it is Friday and we have been completely confounded by all this snow. Apologies!

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: