You probably know Cranbrook as a famous school of art and design, and you’re right. For more than 75 years, Cranbrook has been home to some of the world’s most renowned designers and artists. Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, Daniel Libeskind, Michael and Katherine McCoy, and Jun Kaneko have all taught here, to name only a few. Our students have included Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, Jack Lenor Larsen, Nick Cave, Tony Matelli, Niels Diffrient, Lorraine Wild, and Hani Rashid. It’s reasonable to say that the work emanating from Cranbrook in the 20th century changed the way people live, and the way they understand art and design.
This legacy of excellence and innovation lives on at Cranbrook every day. It’s literally all around us: the Cranbrook campus is 315 acres of rolling, verdant landscape dotted with the art of Carl Milles, Mark di Suvero, and Michael Hall, and defined by the brilliant planning and architecture of Eliel Saarinen, the famed Finnish architect who helped bring Cranbrook to life. In later years, Saarinen’s buildings have been supplemented by masterworks by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Rafael Moneo, and Steven Holl, among others. Not surprisingly, the entire campus has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Academy shares this remarkable home with two other institutions: the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the Cranbrook Schools. Along with dozens of the Schools’ teachers, the Academy’s Artists-in-Residence all reside on campus alongside many of our students. We work here, we live here, and we play here. In other words, Cranbrook is far more than just a place to go to school; it is a community. Whether you are making art in your studio (all Academy of Art students are assigned their own personal studio space), swimming at the Williams Natatorium, attending a lecture in deSalle auditorium, or simply relaxing along the Triton pools in front of the Cranbrook Art Museum (where the work of Academy students and leading artists are both on display), you’ll find Cranbrook is an environment that has been specifically tailored to support your growth as an artist, and as a productive member of society.
That’s been our mission from the start. Our visionary founder, the publisher George Booth, believed that it was the arts that propelled advancements in human culture, and he wanted to create a place where art and design could be studied intensively, with a one-on-one relationship between student and teacher and a close and supportive community. Contemporary Cranbrook is the fulfillment of that vision. Our studios are small (no more 8 new students per year are invited to study in each of our 10 disciplines), and they are all interdisciplinary. We don’t have faculty, we have Artists-in-Residence, each of whom is a working artist or designer recognized as a leader by their peers. We don’t have a complicated curriculum or departmental requirements. We have studios, a minor, and our liberal-arts based Critical Studies and Humanities sequence. That’s it. You study what you want, with whom you want. That’s the Cranbrook way: we’re here to make art and design, not fill classrooms.
History and Influence
Cranbrook Academy of Art, known as the cradle of American modernism, continues to have a significant impact on the world of art, architecture, and design completely disproportionate to its size. Outstanding artists, architects and designers – the Saarinens, Ray and Charles Eames, Florence Knoll, Jack Lenor Larsen, Donald Lipski, Duane Hanson and Hani Rashid, to name only a few - have been a part of Cranbrook’s community of artists. Lasting friendships formed at the Academy lead to future professional collaboration. Our alumni have an international influence through their individual artistic practices and teaching professions.