Cranbrook Academy of Art Presents Distinguished Alumni Award to McArthur Binion

Will Receive Award and Deliver Public Lecture on March 7

Bloomfield Hills, Mich., February 21, 2017– Cranbrook Academy of Art is pleased to announce that it will confer its 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award on Chicago-based painter McArthur Binion (Painting ’73). Binion will receive the award and participate in a public conversation at Cranbrook Art Museum with Laura Mott, Curator of Contemporary Art and Design, and local writer and educator Michael Stone-Richards, on March 7 at 7pm.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is one of the highest honors bestowed by the Academy and recognizes graduates who have demonstrated creativity, innovation, leadership, and vision through their contributions to the practices of architecture, art, and design.

Past recipients of the award include Peter Bohlin (Architecture ’61), Niels Diffrient (Design ’54), Anne Wilson (Fiber ’72), Donald Lipski (Ceramics ’73), Ed Fella (Design ’87) and Ruth Adler Schnee (Design ’46).

Though McArthur Binion’s over 40-year investigation of abstract painting has been continual, his work has gained prominence in recent years. Binion’s work shares many tenets with the canons of Modernism — and particularly Minimalism — but he subverts the dominant rigid notions of the avant-garde by extracting images and rhythms from varied sources including personal narrative, jazz music, and memory. “The part I took from Minimalism,” Binion said, “is that you want to do your own stuff in your own image.” Equally important to Binion is the integration of personal “DNA,” which is evident in the artist’s recent 2015 solo exhibition, Re: Mine at the Galerie Lelong in New York.

Re: Mine continues his DNA series, begun in 2013, in which he physically lays down copies of his birth certificate and pages from his New York address book as the self-described “under conscious” of his paintings, and applies multiple layers of paint stick in vertical and horizontal strokes, combining biography with geometry.

Binion’s distinctive insertion of narrative and personal history and his emphasis on content differentiated his work from the more reductive Minimalist practices of other artists and continues to do so today.

“Our alumni go on to shape the world of art and design, and McArthur is no exception,” said Chris Scoates, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum. “We are pleased to be able to award him with our highest distinction.”

Binion’s works have been featured in solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas, and the University of Maryland University College Gallery as well as group exhibitions at Prospect.3, Louisiana; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Missouri. His works are in major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.

And just this month it was announced that his work will be included in this year’s Venice Biennale, Viva Arte Viva, curated by Christine Macel.

Binon taught as a professor of art at Columbia College in Chicago from 1992 through 2015. He is represented by Kavi Gupta and Galerie Lelong.

Currently, his work Circuit Landscape No. 1, is on display at Cranbrook Art Museum in the From the Vault: Recent Gifts to the Collection exhibition. 

For more than 75 years, Cranbrook Academy of Art 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. Academy students have included Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, Jack Lenor Larsen, Nick Cave, Tony Matelli, Niels Diffrient, Masamichi Udagawa, Lorraine Wild, and Hani Rashid. The work emanating from Cranbrook has in many ways changed the way people live, and the way they understand art and design.

Image © McArthur Binion, Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York. Photo: Christopher Burke Studio.

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