Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Fredericks, Marshall

Marshall Fredericks was an American artist best known for his outdoor sculptures and public monuments. Fredericks, who was of Scandinavian heritage, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, on January 31, 1908. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1930. After graduation, Fredericks obtained a fellowship to study in Sweden with sculptor Carl Milles. In 1932, Milles invited Fredericks to assist in his studio at the Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Fredericks soon began teaching at the Cranbrook and Kingswood Schools, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He remained there for nine years.

In 1935, Fredericks won his first national competition - held to create a fountain for the Levi L. Barbour Memorial on Belle Isle in Detroit. The fountain, located in the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory Rose Garden on Belle Isle, was dedicated in 1937. The fountain prominently features a leaping gazelle, with stylized fauna perched on the base. In 1942, Fredericks enlisted in the Army Corps of Engineers. He would later transfer to the U.S. Army Air Force, and was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1945.

In 1955, Fredericks was commissioned to create a piece for the City of Detroit’s new City-County Building, now called the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. In 1958, The Spirit of Detroit sculpture was dedicated. The large bronze figure quickly became an iconic statue representing the city. One of Fredericks’ last public works, the 40-ft. bronze, marble, and chrome Star Dream Fountain, stands in the plaza next to the Royal Oak city hall, and was dedicated in 1997. It depicts a man and woman representing idealized citizens rising above earthly concerns in pursuit of their dreams.

From 1945 until his death in 1998, Fredericks worked continuously at his studio in Royal Oak, Michigan on numerous commissions for fountains, free-standing sculptures, reliefs, memorials, medallions, and portraits. His work can be found across the United States and in several countries. Many works by Fredericks can be viewed at The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum in Saginaw, Michigan.



The Spirit of Detroit, 1960s

Levi L. Barbour Fountain postcard, 1940s

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