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"The Boy and Bear" in the Grand River

Dublin Core


"The Boy and Bear" in the Grand River


Animal sculpture--20th century.
Bronze sculpture, American--20th century.
Figure sculpture, American--20th century.
Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998
Grand River (Mich.)


The Boy and Bear was commissioned by the J. L. Hudson Company for architect Victor Gruen’s Northland Shopping Center in Southfield, Michigan; at the time, Northland was only the second open-air pedestrian shopping mall in the United States. The bear is carved in limestone and the boy is cast in bronze and gold-plated. The Boy and Bear is located just outside one of the entrances to Macy’s, formerly Hudson’s department store. Three years after Fredericks started the sculpture, The Boy and Bear was dedicated in 1954. In a 1981 interview with the Detroit News art critic Joy Colby, Fredericks said, “People don’t like to go shopping in just a cement building, you know; they really don’t. If it has something that appeals to their eye and is more friendly and warm and maybe has a little fun connected with it I think they enjoy it more.”

While there is no documented correlation between Rudyard Kipling’s boy (Mowgli) and bear (Baloo) in his famous novel The Jungle Book (1894) and Fredericks’ The Boy and Bear, most note great similarities.

Fredericks love for children is clearly at the heart of this sculpture. The bear’s enormous body compared to the frail boy reminds the viewer of man’s special bond with animals. The bear with his massive head lowered, ears upright, brow furrowed and gentle smile reaches out to the boy and each viewer in friendship, and appears to offer to lend an ear to listen. Fredericks had created a special relationship with The Boy and Bear, but has also left open the possibility of relationships yet to come.


Marshall M. Fredericks Papers
Series V, Box 13 Folder 25




Use of this image requires permission from the Marshall M. Fredericks Archives.








Grand Rapids (Mich.)

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Color print

Physical Dimensions

4" x 6"

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