Oct. 26, 2020 (DETROIT)— Russ Marshall: Detroit Photographs, 1958–2008, opens Nov. 15, 2020 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, closing June 27, 2021. The exhibition presents more than 90 photographs by Marshall, whose black-and-white images highlight Detroit’s streets, architecture, music scene and factory workers. The photographs document six decades of blue-collar life, capturing the changing industrial, and societal landscapes of the city over that time. The exhibition is free with museum admission, which is free for residents of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

From 1975 through 2005, Marshall worked as a freelance photographer for local and national labor and trade magazines. During this time, he took some of his most compelling images, such as labor portraits and candid photos, shot alongside the assembly line workers in factories, shops and plants throughout Detroit, as well as at Dearborn’s Ford Rouge plant, General Motors plants in Flint, Mich., and in other areas of the Midwest.

Detroit Photographs explores five themes presented as sections in the exhibition: Everyday Detroit, Public Life, Workers, Sounds of Detroit, and Turning His Lens Toward Europe. Everyday Detroit features Marshall’s photographs of people at newsstands, factories, and parades. Public Life is a compilation of images from various social settings throughout the city, including hippies at the 1967 Belle Isle Love-In, and business leaders, and socialites at exclusive events. In Workers, Detroit auto assembly line and other factory workers the humanity behind manufacturing, as well as the rapid changes of the auto industry. Many of the factories he visited closed shortly after the photographs were taken. Sounds of Detroit highlights the city’s jazz and blues scene with images of singers, musicians, and Detroit’s buzzing nightlife. The exhibition closes with a special selection of photographs taken in Europe from 1987 to 1990, including images of the Berlin Wall before it was torn down.

Nancy Barr, DIA Curator of Photography, worked with Marshall for two years on the selections for the exhibition. She notes, “Russ has a great affinity for Detroit and its culture, having worked in the city for so many years. He captured the beauty of its vast industrial landscape, its architecture and landmarks like Michigan Central Station. He also immortalized the spirit and diversity of the people who walked its streets and worked in its factories. We also get a sense for his interest in music from photographs of live performances all over the city.”

Marshall’s love of jazz, blues and poetry inspired YouTube and Spotify playlists he curated especially for the DIA. Links to these and other online offerings, including a virtual exhibition tour and brochure, teacher lesson plans, and large print labels will be available on our website and social media channels.   

Born in 1940 in a small town in Pennsylvania, Marshall was raised in a blue-collar family. Three years later, they relocated to Detroit where his father found work on the Chrysler assembly line. He developed an interest in photography as a teenager, shooting on the city’s downtown streets and capturing Detroit’s people and sights. From 19601964, he enlisted in the Navy and became a U.S. Naval aviation still camera photographer. Returning to Detroit, he continued his own photography in addition to pursuing a professional career. Throughout his mid-to-late career, he participated in solo and group exhibitions at galleries and museums in and around Detroit. Russ Marshall: Detroit Photographs, 1958–2008 is his first solo exhibition for a major museum and draws on work from the permanent collection, which was largely gifted by the artist to the DIA in recent years.

Russ Marshall: Detroit Photographs, 1958–2008 is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

Major Funding is generously provided by TCF Bank. Additional support is given by the Friends of Prints, Drawings & Photographs, Dr. Cynthia Chow and David B. Chow, Lindsey and Tom Buhl, and Alessandro F. Uzielli.

For more information on this exhibition, visit: dia.org/RussMarshallDetroitPhotographs

Admission to the exhibition is included with general admission, which is always free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. At this time visitors are required to reserve a times museum admission ticket before arrival. Masks are required to enter the museum.

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The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.