Robert Graham's "Memorial to Joe Louis" focuses on a large-scale representation of the boxing champion's celebrated strength. It is suspended by pins and wire from four steel posts in the shape of a pyramid, allowing it to move with the wind. The model of Louis' arm is modeled to scale, with one inch equaling one foot. Joe Louis was raised in Detroit and held the title of World Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1937 to 1949. It is inscribed on the back of the arm "Monument/ To/ Joe Louis/ By Robert Graham/ A Gift From Sports Illustrated/ to the People of the City of/ Detroit. The Detroit Institute of/ Art and its Founder's Society/ on the Occasion of the Museum's/ Centennial 1885-1985." A bronze plaque bears the same inscription, mounted on a base of concrete aggragate, and stands on traffic island immediately west of the sculpture, facing east. The sculpture is unsigned. Commissioned by the Founders Society of the Detroit Institute of Arts, with $350,000 underwritten by Sports Illustrated Magazine, "The Big Fist" is one of Detroit's most easily recognized outdoor sculptures. Nawrocki, Dennis Alan. "Art in Detroit Public Places, Revised Edition." Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999. Save Outdoor Sculpture survey, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1993-1994.
Category: Artwork - Sculpture