Marshall Maynard Fredericks
(January 31, 1908 –
April 4, 1998) was an American sculptor.
was born of Scandinavian heritage in Rock Island,
Illinois on January 31, 1908. His family moved to
Florida for a short time and then settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he grew up.
He graduated from the
Cleveland School of Art
in 1930 and journeyed abroad on a fellowship to study with Carl
Milles (1875-1955) in Sweden. After some months he studied in other
academies and private studios in Denmark, Germany, France, and
Italy, and traveled extensively in Europe and North Africa.
In 1932 he
was invited by Carl Milles to join the
staffs of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Cranbrook and Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, teaching there until
he enlisted in the armed forces in 1942.
In 1945 Fredericks
was honorably discharged from the Air Force as a Lieutenant
In 1936, Fredericks won a competition to create the Levi L.
Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan, and this was to be the first of many public
monuments created by Fredericks.
After World War II, the
sculptor worked continuously on his numerous commissions for
fountains, memorials, free-standing sculptures, reliefs, and
portraits in bronze and other materials. Many of his works have
spiritual intensity, lighthearted humor and a warm and gentle
humanist spirit like that found in Fredericks himself.
Fredericks was the recipient of many American and foreign awards
and decorations for his artistic and humanitarian achievements. He
exhibited his work nationally and internationally; many of his
sculptures are in national, civic, and private collections.
Michigan with his wife Rosalind Cooke until his death on
April 4, 1998; they had five children and eight
grandchildren. He also held studios at 4113 North Woodward
Avenue in Royal Oak and on East Long Lake Road in Bloomfield
Hills, Michigan until 1998.
After his death the contents of
his studios were gifted to the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture
on the campus of Saginaw Valley State
Cleveland War Memorial Fountain: Peace Arising from the
Flames of War
Memorial Fountain: Peace Arising from the Flames of
War was installed in downtown Cleveland, Ohio to commemorate those who served in World War
It bears the inscription, IN HONORED MEMORY OF THOSE
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY
. The work was 20 years
in the making and was dedicated on May 31, 1964.
Four groups in Norwegian emerald pearl granite
, each 4 feet by 12 feet represent the
religious aspirations from all over the globe that are the
foundation for the soaring figure that represents eternal life. The
figure was cast in Norway, where also the granite groups were
carved. The globe under the figure was cast in
The four groups represent the four
"corners" of the earth from which come the major religions, which
in turn gave birth to the idea of eternal life, here represented by
the human figure in the center of the sculpture.
Boy and Bear
was one of six artists commissioned to design sculpture for
Shopping Center in
At the time it opened in 1954, Northland was the
country's largest shopping center as well as the first regional
shopping center. The architects planned for sculpture to play an
important role in the shopping center's courts and malls. It is
obvious that Fredericks designed this sculpture with children in
mind. As with his other large animal sculptures, he gave the bear a
benevolent quality so it would not frighten children. This bear
could be a child's best friend. The contrast of the massive body of
the bear with the almost frail body of the boy on his back
emphasizes this special relationship. The bear's head is down,
communicating only amicable intentions. Its erect ears and furrowed
brow suggest interest in a viewer at this low eye level.
Frederick's portrayal of the bear is not totally realistic, but
like several of his other sculptures of animals, he has portrayed
the bear as in a child's imagination. The sculpture at Northland
still attracts as much attention today as when it was first placed
there, pleasing children and adults alike.
Despite similarities between this sculpture and the characters in
's movie The Jungle Book
, Fredericks disavows any
influence from Walt Disney or Rudyard
, the author of The Jungle Book
originally published in 1894. Fredericks has said that he simply
wanted to make a sculpture of a boy and bear because it would be
funIn a display case at the front of the gallery is a smaller and
earlier version of this sculpture in bronze. A cast similar to this
is on display in the children's room of the Grosse Pointe
Christ on the Cross
Fredericks was commissioned to sculpt a 6
foot tall crucifix, but instead designed this twenty-eight foot,
full-scale model, for a bronze to be placed at Indian River
Catholic Shrine in Indian River, Michigan.
Christ from the Cross in the Woods
The bronze Corpus is mounted on a
fifty-five foot tall redwood cross. When it was erected in 1959, it
was believed to be the largest crucifix in the world. Since then, a
sixty-five foot crucifix has been positioned in the cemetery of
St. Thomas Catholic Church hear Bardstown, Kentucky.
[NOTE: the Corpus on this work is only 14
feet in height]
The Indian River figure required only three years to complete, but
this plaster model was in restoration for seven years before being
put on permanent display in the Main Exhibit Gallery. It had
suffered from neglect during the two decades it was in storage at
the foundry in Norway, Sweden after the bronze was cast. Note the
absence of the crown of thorns and the wound in the figure's side.
Fredericks chose not to depict the pain and suffering of Jesus.
Instead, he shows the powerful body of Jesus at peace in the moment
Freedom of the Human Spirit
The Freedom of the Human Spirit was originally sculpted for the
1964 World's Fair
in New York
City. It stood in the Court of States area of the fair.
Fredericks is quoted explaining the Freedom of the Human
"I tried to take the male and female figures and free them from the
earth. The only reason they stand up in the space at all is because
they are suspended by sort of semi-visible abstract forms that keep
them in the air, and then there are three giant wind swans flying
with them. The idea was that these human beings, these people-us,
do not have to be limited to the earth, to the ground. We can free
ourselves mentally and spiritually whenever we want to, if we just
try to do so."
This sculpture was moved in 1996 to the main entrance of the Arthur
Ashe US Tennis Center in New York City. A casting is in Shain Park
in Birmingham, Michigan.
This sculpture was the first commissioned work Marshall Fredericks
was paid to do. In 1936 the sculpture won first prize in a national
competition, and as a result, made Fredericks well known as a
public sculptor. Since the gazelle is not native to Michigan,
Fredericks made four animals that are, and placed them around the
gazelle on Belle Isle. These animals are the otter, grouse, hawk
and rabbit. Fredericks sculpted the gazelle in a characteristic
movement called wheeling, which is when an animal quickly changes
direction while being pursued by a predator.
The Leaping Gazelle is one of the most duplicated of Fredericks's
sculptures. It can be found at numerous locations,
Gardens where it was one of four purchase prize winners of a nationwide open
sculpture competition in 1972.
Lion and Mouse
Fredericks has said that this sculpture illustrates the story of
"The Lion and the Mouse". In that story a lion caught a mouse, but
as he was about to eat him the mouse pleaded for mercy, promising
to help the lion one day. The lion was so amused by the prospect of
a tiny mouse helping the king of the jungle that he let the mouse
go. Some time later the mouse came across the lion tied up in a
hunter's net. The mouse gnawed through the ropes to free him. In a
different version of the story, the mouse extracted from the lion's
paw a troublesome thorn too tiny for the massive lion's claws to
catch. A fitting moral to the story is that kindness is seldom
thrown away, be it given to the mightiest or lowliest of creatures.
Notice how Fredericks captured the whole story in a single image
that contrasts the tiny mouse with the larger lion.
The J. L. Hudson Company commissioned this sculpture for Eastland Center
Like many of Fredericks' sculptures, he designed it specifically
for children. Both animals are humanized with friendly facial
expressions. The lion's reclining position and his crossed legs are
very human-like, yet his huge round head is stylized with uniformly
coiled ringlets and his knees are abstracted. These alterations of
nature make the king of the jungle unthreatening to children and
Lord Byron The Poet
When Fredericks was a teenager his inspiration was Lord Byron
, the nineteenth-century Romantic poet
who became associated with a haughty, melancholy mood. Fredericks
presents Lord Byron
in a dramatic pose
with his head thrown back and hand raised to his forehead. He seems
to suffer inner turmoil suggestive of the melancholic life of the
poet. Lord Byron's left leg was slightly shorter than his right and
he was sensitive about his lameness. Fredericks captured this
aspect of Byron's personality by posing him draped in a long cape
which partially conceals his legs.The Bronze full-scale sculpture
resides on the campus of Saginaw Valley State
Man and the Expanding Universe
and the Expanding Universe Fountain is located in the South Court
of the United States State Department Building in Washington,
The fountain was erected to celebrate the nation's first
exploration of outer space. The monumental central figure suggests
a superhuman mythological being. He is seated upon a ten-foot
sphere, encrusted with a multitude of stars of various magnitudes
set in a pattern of the bright-star constellations of the celestial
system. In his hands, he holds two planets that he is sending off
into space. His hair, designed with jagged lightning-like forms, is
studded with clusters of multi-pointed stars. The dynamic spiral
orbit-form swirling around the sphere represents the speed and
perpetual movement of the heavenly bodies in space. Play of the
water in a spiral pattern from numerous star-shaped sprays is
intended to increase the feeling of movement upon the figure,
sphere, and orbit.
The basin of the fountain is lined with colored glass mosaic tiles.
The central figure and sphere are cast in bronze while the orbit,
planets, water spouts, and the stars in the hair and on the surface
of the sphere are of nickel alloy. According to Fredericks, the
sculpture "represents this age of great interest, exploration and
discovery in outer space...[and] the immensity, order and mystery
of the universe."
Night and Day Fountain
The Night and Day Fountain was commissioned for the Henry J.
Auditorium in Port Huron, Michigan.
Fredericks also created a gold anodized
aluminum Sculptured Clock on the building that was completed two
years before the fountain's installation. The sculptures and clock
were conceived as a unified design concept.
In keeping with a long tradition in western art, the sculptor
personified time with figures representing night and day. Night has
long, smooth, graceful curves that are repeated in the lines of the
swan in flight beneath her. In comparison, Day is more angular and
his muscles are more pronounced, as are the veins in the arms and
hands. Day rests upon an otter, hunting in a school of Northern
pike and Night floats upon a swan in flight, holding a small bird
in her hand.
The Night and Day Fountain can also be seen in the Sculpture
Garden. An image of the clock and sculptures can be seen on page
141 of Marshall Fredericks, Sculptor.
Spirit of Detroit
Working from a small model, Fredericks made the full-scale model
for the sixteen-foot tall figure at the entrance to the Coleman A.
Municipal Center in Detroit, Michigan.
For monumental sculpture, sculptors
typically create a small model or maquette, then a one-third or
one-quarter scale model, then the full-size model. This provides an
opportunity to work out compositional details prior to construction
of the large, expensive, and time-consuming full-scale model.
Enlargement of the model is done with a point-up or pantograph
machine. Three are on display in the Sculptor's Studio. Note the
rough surface and compare it to the smoother surface of the
full-scale model for the Head of the Spirit of Detroit, central in
the Main Exhibit Gallery.
Fredericks stated he never named the piece. He said:"The theme was
a verse from the Bible (2 Corinthians 3:17); 'Now the Lord is that
Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' I
tried to express the spirit of man through the deity and the
Gradually people began calling it Spirit of Detroit. He also waived
his creative fee for this sculpture and it actually ended up
costing him money to produce; he thought a mere part of his civic
Fredericks created this sculpture after
George Gough Booth, the founder of Cranbrook
Educational Community, asked him to make a "Thinker" for the steps of the
Cranbrook Art Museum similar to Auguste Rodin's renowned Thinker, a
cast of which is on the steps of the Detroit Institute of
The pose Fredericks' Thinker assumes is a direct
reference to Rodin's sculpture; however, Fredericks' replacement of
Rodin's heroic male nude with a bemused chimpanzee is a thought
provoking variation on the earlier statue. Fredericks' choice of a
chimpanzee reveals his fondness for primates. Fredericks indicated
that when Booth saw the compact composition of the chimp stroking
his chin, he commented that it was not like Rodin would have done,
but Booth was sure the chimp was thinking much more interesting
thoughts than most of us are.
Two Bears was originally created for Lincoln Square, Urbana,
Illinois. A large and small bear sit back to back in quiet
contemplation. In nature, these two animals are enemies, however,
Fredericks portrays the two in a gentle humanistic way, stressing
tolerance. Notice the differences in the bears ears and noses. Also
if you look closely at the small bear's knees you will notice a
tear drop sculpting style, known as one of Fredericks' trademarks.
Other sculptures that display this characteristic are The Thinker,
Lion and Mouse, and the Male Baboon and Female Baboon
Other selected works
L Barbour Memorial Fountain, Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Michigan, 1936
- Spirit of Detroit, Detroit, Michigan,
- Christ on the Cross at Cross in the Woods National Shrine,
River, Michigan, 1959
- Flying Pterodactyls, at the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak, Michigan, 1961
- Fountain of Eternal Life, Cleveland,
- Zacharias, Pat (September 5, 1999). Monuments of Detroit Michigan History,
Detroit News. Retrieved on November 21, 2007.
- Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum home
- Fisher, Marcy Heller and illustrated by Christine Collins
Woomer. The Outdoor Museum: Magic of Michigan's Marshall
M. Fredericks. (Wayne State University Press, 2003).
Cloth / ISBN 0-8143-2932-2 Paper / ISBN 0-8143-2969-1
Winner Save Outdoor Sculpture Achievement Award Honorable
Mention -- a pictorial guide to Fredericks'
- Fredericks, Marshall M., Suzanne P. Fredericks, Edgar Preston
Richardson, Marcy Heller Fisher, Marshall M.
Fredericks, Sculptor (Saginaw Valley State University
Press, 2003) ISBN 0-9726929-0-8.
- Kvaran and Lockley, Guide to Architectural Sculpture in
America, unpublished manuscript.
- Opitz, Glenn B , Editor, Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of
American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers. (Apollo Book,
Poughkeepsie NY, 1986). ISBN 0938290045.