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The Boy and Bear [Plaster]

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Title

The Boy and Bear [Plaster]

Subject

Animal sculpture--20th century

Description

The Boy and Bear, 1954
Plaster original

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall M. Fredericks
1991.006

Fredericks was one of six artists commissioned by the J.L. Hudson Company to design sculpture for Northland Center in Southfield, Michigan. At the time it opened in 1954, Northland was the country's largest shopping center as well as the first regional shopping center. In a 1981 National Archives Interview, Fredericks states:
"Well, as you know, the first shopping mall was Victor's Gruen's Northland; that was the first one in the world, I guess. He and his staff were very art conscious and they thought that sculpture would really enhance the architecture and they were right because it made architecture more personal and related to people better. 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. That was the reason I did The Bear and the Boy there; that was the first piece ever done for a shopping center. I wanted to reach people who would come there to shop and the people who come there to shop basically are people, mothers and fathers, especially mothers with their children and I think over the years it's attracted an awful of children and that attracts mothers, as mothers buy dresses, you know. So it worked. The same with the Lion and the Mouse."

Despite similarities between this sculpture and the characters in Walt Disney's movie The Jungle Book, Fredericks' disavows any influence from Walt Disney or Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book which was originally published in 1894. Fredericks has said that he simply wanted to make a sculpture of a boy and bear because it would be fun. A bronze of this scale can be found in the Sculpture Garden.

The Northland sculpture was carved in limestone and the boy is cast in bronze and is gold-plated.

Creator

Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998

Date

1954

Rights

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

Coverage

University Center (Mich.)

Sculpture Item Type Metadata

Physical Dimensions

79" x 42" x 78"

Materials

Plaster

Catalog Number

1991.006

Object Location

Main Exhibit Gallery

Provenance

11/19/1987 gifted to MFSM

Notes

From Jennifer Lentz (Collection Documentation Intern 1991-1992)
Memo dated July 30, 1991

"RE: Boy and Bear

On July 26, 1991 Molly told me there is a small scale Boy and Bear bronze located inside the Grosse Pointe library."



August 7, 1991

FROM: Jennifer Lentz, Intern
Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Gallery

RE: Boy and Bear at Grosse Pointe Central Library


There is a small "Boy and Bear" located in their children's room. It is on book marks sold there and it has become the logo for the Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library. It was donated in memory of Helen Hines Thomas by her friends from the Detroit Industrial school. In the library's vertical file is one small article about the sculpture. We do not know the date of this object at this time.


Facts:
-relates to Rudyard Kipling's Novel The Jungle Book published in 1894. An illustration in an original Kipling book looks very much like Marshall's sculpture.
-claimed it relates to a Norwegian novel his grandmother told him.
-Fredericks said that this had no relation to Kipling's Jungle Book movie by Disney as it was modeled before the Disney movie was made (1954).


National Archives Interview with Marshall Fredericks:
"Well, as you know, the first shopping mall was Victor's Gruen's Northland; that was the first one in the world, I guess. He and his staff were very art conscious and they thought that sculpture would really enhance the architecture and they were right because it made architecture more personal and related to people better. 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. That was the reason I did The Bear and the Boy there; that was the first piece ever done for a shopping center. I wanted to reach people who would come there to shop and the people who come there to shop basically are people, mothers and fathers, especially mothers with their children and I think over the years it's attracted an awful lot of children and that attracts mothers, as mothers buy dresses, you know. So it worked. The same with the Lion and The Mouse."



Molly Barth copy:
The next plaster model is titled, "The Boy and the Bear." J. L. Hudson commissioned Mr. Fredericks to do this piece also. The bear is carved in limestone and the boy is cast in bronze and then gold-plated. This is located at Northland shopping Center, in Southfield, MIchigan. Northland was the first mall, as we know malls today in the nation. It was originally outside, but as the mall grew, it is now was located inside, just outside one of the entrances to Hudsons. This took Mr. Fredericks start-to-finish three years, and it was dedicated in 1954. As I mentioned, the one that's at Northland, the bear is carved in limestone, and here in the plaster model, you can see it; we think of stone as being cold and hard, Mr. Fredericks really goes against nature, and he has created this bear, and when you look at him, you think of really as being very friendly, very huggable. You get the feeling that if you squeezed one of his ears, which you can't here with the plaster model, but if you were able to, that it would be very soft, it's amazing what Mr. Fredericks can create out of nature, and just create this bear that looks so soft. We also have "The Boy and Bear," that's cast in bronze, that was donated, and it's outside in the Sculpture Garden.


From 1995 Mary Iorio of Cranbrook, interview with Fredericks:
Fredericks said, "Well, the Boy and the Bear was made for a shopping center. I made it 40 years ago. I put the Boy and Bear up. This sculpture student was upset because she didn't think it looked like a grizzly bear. 'It should have a nose like this and eyes like this.' So I said, 'I know exactly what a bear looks like. But I don't want to show that aspect of a bear.' I wanted to show the bear as a cuddly, friendly and lovable kind of bear. I said, 'It's not a real bear, it's a play bear.'"

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