About us
Artists Eero Saarinen
Eero Saarinen Photo

Eero Saarinen

Finnish-American Architect and Designer

Movements and Styles: The International Style, Modern Architecture

Born: August 20, 1910 - Kirkkonummi, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire

Died: September 1, 1961 - Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Eero Saarinen Timeline

Quotes

"The purpose of architecture is to shelter and enhance man's life on earth and to fulfill his belief in the nobility of his existence."
Eero Saarinen
"Confusion comes from trying to amalgamate several conflicting ideas."
Eero Saarinen
"One finds that many different shapes are equally logical - some exciting, some earthbound, some soaring. The choice has really become a sculptor's choices."
Eero Saarinen
"Function influences but does not dictate form."
Eero Saarinen
"I have come to the conviction that once one embarks on a concept for a building, this concept has to be exaggerated and overstated and repeated in every part of its interior so that wherever you are, inside or outside, the building sings with the same message."
Eero Saarinen
"Compromise comes from a fear of being pure."
Eero Saarinen
"Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context - a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan."
Eero Saarinen
"Our architecture is too humble. It should be proud, more aggressive, much richer and larger than we see today. I would like to do my part in expanding that richness."
Eero Saarinen

"Experimentation can present great dangers, but there would be greater danger if we didn't try to explore at all."

Eero Saarinen Signature

Synopsis

One New Year's Day at 8 o'clock in the morning, Eero Saarinen arrived at his office, looked around and, seeing only his assistant Kevin Roche, said, "Where the hell is everybody?" Roche then had to remind Saarinen that it was a major holiday. But most people who worked or lived with Eero Saarinen would probably say that was par for the course, as he was a highly ambitious and extremely motivated architect - we might say today that his work gave him "tunnel vision". Saarinen's passion for architecture and design, recognized from a very early age, led him to develop his personal, often sculptural, direction and an adventurous spirit. In a rather brief career, Saarinen's imaginative daring produced an extraordinary set of highly futuristic buildings of virtually every possible type, whose impressive stature and visionary designs mean that they still seem to be ahead of their time and have largely remained unaltered more than a half-century later.

Key Ideas

Saarinen's works, like the St. Louis Gateway Arch and TWA Terminal, often are very sculptural - a quality likely derived from both his mother's influence and his own brief training in sculpture - and structurally adventurous, defying our expectations of how they must stand up. They also exploit the possibilities of modern materials - particularly concrete - and engineering know-how to the fullest extent.
Though ostensibly an architect of the International Style, whose mature period coincides with the heyday of the movement, Saarinen's genius lies in his focus on finding unique solutions for each individual commission. Occasionally, as with his GM Technical Center, he could employ the International Style perfectly, but Saarinen is often called a "second-generation" modernist for the way he moved beyond the rigid glass-box aesthetic pioneered by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.
Saarinen's buildings, including the Ingalls Ice Rink and CBS Building, tend to resonate with familiar themes within human experience, evoking relationships with structures and environments that may at first be unexpected, but harmonize well with their purposes upon further exploration. Saarinen's keen grasp of history and culture helped him understand the context in which his buildings would be inserted, and the strong connections that they make with their surroundings points to why nearly all of his major buildings have survived nearly unchanged to the present day.

Biography

Eero Saarinen Photo

Childhood

Eero Saarinen was, along with Louis Kahn, one of the two great European emigres who would become titans of midcentury American architecture. Both were born in areas around the Baltic Sea that, at the time of their births, were technically part of Russia, though Saarinen's family was decidedly Finnish (Finland became independent of Russia during the 1917 Russian Revolution), and both immigrated to the United States as children.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Eero Saarinen Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Eero Saarinen
Interactive chart with Eero Saarinen's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Charles EamesCharles Eames
Lilian Swann

Personal Contacts

Eliel Saarinen
Norman Bel Geddes

Movements

Modern ArchitectureModern Architecture
The International StyleThe International Style

Influences on Artist
Eero Saarinen
Eero Saarinen
Years Worked: 1935 - 1961
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Alexander Girard
Dan Kiley

Personal Contacts

Kevin Roche
Robert Venturi
Cesar Pelli
Harry Bertoia

Movements

BrutalismBrutalism
PostmodernismPostmodernism

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Peter Clericuzio

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Peter Clericuzio
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]