Art: The Maturing Modern

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While poring over the model for G.M., Saarinen developed a good many answers on how to recapture "great awarenesses of the past." To pull the spread-out buildings together he created a 22-acre artificial lake, placed in it two fountains that pump more water than did Versailles'. To give each building its own identity, he developed glazed bricks in eleven colors ranging from deep crimson and tangerine-orange to chartreuse and royal blue. For the strong vertical accent, almost a signature of Saarinen's work, he erected a gleaming, stainless-steel water tower rising 132 ft. from the lake, matched it with a 188-ft.-span dome of aluminum-covered steel for displaying new models under high-powered lights.

Two in a Study. As Saarinen's G.M. began going up, his marriage was washing out. The marital problem was discussed sympathetically in a story written by the New York Times's Associate Art Editor Aline B. Louchheim. "When he is in Bloomfield Hills," she wrote, "Saarinen works at the office until at least midnight . . . Unlike the elder Saarinen's studio-house, which kept the family working and playing together and was a convivial center for artists, actors and musicians, the younger Saarinens allocate social life primarily to their infrequent vacations . . . Very occasionally, in a musing, somewhat rueful tone, Eero Saarinen questions whether he has not let architecture devour too much of his life . . . But one wonders if there could have been any other way for him."

After he was divorced, Eero Saarinen and the author of those understanding lines (herself a divorcee) were married. He told his new wife frankly: "I think you will be able to be married to me, because you understand that my first love is architecture." Since then, Eero has kept the romance boiling with surprise "I love you'' notes Scotch-taped on the walls. They named their son, now 19 months, Eames, for Eero's old designer buddy, Charles Eames.

Architect Saarinen and his wife and son live in a made-over, nine-room Victorian brick farmhouse of 1860 vintage, smoothed off, brightened and painted white inside, and furnished with Eero's furniture. (His mother lives on the back lot in a sleek modern house he designed to fit her favorite, handloomed, 25-ft.-long Finnish rug.) In cutting away a section of one wall to throw light on the main stairway of his old house, Saarinen has made the exterior what he considers "better Victorian than ever." The garage has been converted into a joint study, where Eero, working over his drafting table at night, glances up frequently to see Aline chewing up pencils over her writing.

Only real source of friction in the house : Eero's unwillingness to play handyman. Says Aline: "It's the shoemaker's-children-have-no-shoes situation. The basement leaked for months without his taking any interest in it. Then, happily, one day during a strenuous spring thaw, it flooded to a depth of six inches. That was sufficient crisis to engage him. He sprang into action and within an hour a sump pump was making the house throb like an ocean liner."

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