Motor City Icon: The Spirit of Detroit

Motor City Icon: The Spirit of Detroit

Oct. 5, 2018 – Jan. 19, 2019



Motor City Icon, The Spirit of Detroit Exhibition Will Honor 60 Years

A year ago, museum staff began talking about ways to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Spirt of Detroit with an exhibition at the Museum.  There were so many components that could and should be considered, and it has come together very nicely.

Motor City Icon, The Spirit of Detroit will open at the Museum on Oct. 5.  The exhibition will have four components: historical documents and photographs; ephemera and objects that have The Spirit of Detroit displayed on them; a 30-second animated film about the “Spirit;” and an exhibition of contemporary works of art by twenty artists who have received a Kresge Artists Fellowship.

The Marshall M. Fredericks Archives will be an invaluable resource for the historical aspects of The Spirit of Detroit, such as original sketches, presentation drawings, correspondence, photographs and clippings, all of which will tell the story of the commission, execution and dedication of this monumental sculpture in 1958.  Several maquettes (models) of various sizes were made by the artist and will be included in the exhibition.

A call has gone out to the public asking for loans or donations of ephemera (postcards, greeting cards, drawings, flyers) and objects that display the image of The Spirit of Detroit, such as City of Detroit letterhead and business cards, caps, t-shirts, jackets, sneakers, coasters, glasses, and so much more.  We have amassed over 70 objects for you to view.

A filmmaker completed a 30-second animated film about the “Spirit” standing up after sitting at the foot of Woodward Avenue for 60 years, walking north on Woodard through Royal Oak, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills where Marshall worked and lived for all his adult life, and on to the museum that bears his creator’s name, The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.  The film ends with the “Spirit” returning to Woodward at the end of the day and assuming his sitting position.  View the animated film.

The final component of the exhibition will be 18 original works of art that have been made in the last two years—sculpture, painting, print, photograph, fiber, mixed media, jewelry, collage, film—that speak to what The Spirit of Detroit, either the sculpture itself or the spirit of the city and its people, means to the artists who created them.

You will not want to miss this exhibition.

Opening to meet the artists will be Saturday October 13, 2:00 – 4:00 pm.