Museum visit: Detroit Institute of the Arts

By Greta Kuriger Suiter

I recently found myself in the thumb of Michigan for a wedding celebration and decided a trip to the Detroit Institute of the Arts was in order. I was excited to see Rivera court where Diego Rivera painted a large mural cycle covering four walls. From the DIA website:

The Detroit Industry fresco cycle was conceived by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957) as a tribute to the city’s manufacturing base and labor force of the 1930s. Rivera completed the twenty-seven panel work in eleven months, from April 1932 to March 1933. It is considered the finest example of Mexican mural art in the United States, and the artist thought it the best work of his career.

On the day I visited there was a Japanese tea ceremony taking place so the court was crowded.


After getting through the crowd and around a corner I was pleased to find a small sample of Rivera’s drawings that he did for the murals. It was interactive in that one must lift a wooden panel to see the drawings.


After the murals I was looking forward to checking out the photography exhibit Motor City Muse: Detroit Photographs Then and Now. Much of the exhibit featured photographs by Dave Jordano from a series titled Detroit – Unbroken Down. This series consists of then and now style photographs, both photographed by Jordano. The exhibit also featured photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Dave Jordano, Karin Jobst, Detroiters Nicola Kuperus, Russ Marshall and Bill Rauhauser, along with select members of the Detroit School of Automotive Photography. Out of these photographers the name that I needed to look up as soon as I got home was Bill Rauhauser. There were images from his series on people taking photographs and a series of women smoking; both were funny and engaging. I have a new book to add to my Amazon wish list!

Finally, the main reason I was looking forward to visiting the DIA was to check out it’s Islamic wing. For ARTH 601 this semester one of our assignments is to visit a wing of a museum, or a whole museum, that features art from a period of art history we don’t know much about. Here are a bunch of images from the Islamic wing. It’s a small section of the museum, basically one large room, but houses some amazing works of art. From the DIA website:

The collection includes splendid ceramics and metalwork from the central Islamic lands, a large collection of medieval textiles decorated with religious inscriptions from Egypt, lusterware ceramics from Iran, Egypt, Syria and Spain, woven silks from early modern Iran, and carpets from Western China among other works of art. Unusual objects include an ivory inkwell from medieval Sicily, an enameled glass bottle made in Egypt for a Yemeni Sultan in the thirteenth century, and magnificent Qur’an written on colored Chinese papers in the fifteenth century.


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