Monument to Joe Louis

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The sculpture in 2019

The Monument to Joe Louis, known also as The Fist,[1] is a memorial located at Detroit's Hart Plaza, dedicated to boxer Joe Louis.

History[edit]

Showing title of piece

Dedicated on October 16, 1986, the sculpture, commissioned by Sports Illustrated magazine[2] from the Mexican-American sculptor Robert Graham (1938–2008), and poured by the legendary bronze artist, Rolf Kriken, is a 24-foot-long (7.3 m) arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high (7.3 m) pyramidal framework.

The inscription on the back of the arm reads:

MONUMENT
TO
JOE LOUIS
BY
ROBERT GRAHAM

A GIFT FROM SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF
DETROIT. THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF
ARTS AND ITS FOUNDERS SOCIETY
ON THE OCCASION OF THE MUSEUM'S
CENTENNIAL. 1885-1985.

It represents the power of his punch both inside and outside the ring. Because of Louis' efforts to fight Jim Crow laws, the fist was symbolically intended as a statement against racism.[3] Graham referred to the sculpture as a "battering ram".[4] It is claimed to be an historical metaphor, even down to its placement (pointing toward Canada).[5]

The sculpture was vandalized by two white men in 2004, who covered it in white paint and left a sign which read, "Courtesy of Fighting Whities".[4] Graham responded that the piece was "working" if it aroused passion.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Colby, Joy Hakanson (10 July 2006). "Art 'hospitals' heal history: Conservators battle against time and abuse to fix and preserve precious artwork". Detroit News. p. E.1.
  2. ^ "Memorial to Joe Louis". detroit1701.org. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "Fist of a Champion - Detroit's Monument to Joe Louis". Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Zaslow, Jeffrey (4 March 2004). "In Detroit, a Blow To 'The Fist' Touches A Sensitive Nerve; Controversial Sculpture Is Defaced With Paint; Vandals Deny Racism". Wall Street Journal. p. A.1.
  5. ^ Daily Detroit Staff (July 10, 2015). "The Real Story Behind Detroit's Giant Joe Louis Fist". Daily Detroit. Retrieved May 8, 2017. originally appeared in Detroit Unspun.

Coordinates: 42°19′43″N 83°02′40″W / 42.328694°N 83.044544°W / 42.328694; -83.044544