Belle Isle is one of the greatest urban parks in North American for a great variety of reasons. Perhaps one of the least mentioned reasons is the ability to compare how different sculptors portrayed gazelles. On Belle Isle, near the Aquarium and the Conservatory that were designed in the first decade of the last century by Albert Kahn, you will find a beautiful wheeling gazelle designed by Marshall Fredericks in the mid-1930s for the Levi L. Barbour Fountain.
At the northeast corner of Belle Isle, you may appreciate the stylized silhouette of a gazelle pictured on this page. You only see the curving horns, a suggestion of the face and the neck of this giant gazelle. It is an impressive work of art since it is located on a large expanse of grass. And the entire stainless steel sculpture is supported by the neck. You need to walk very close to this sculpture to appreciate its richness. Fortunately, there is a nearby parking lot.
Richard Bennett is a self-taught, Detroit-born sculptor. He has an office or studio on Brainard Street near Cass in Detroit and continues to design sculptures and furniture. When this piece of art was installed, it was meant to be the first of a herd of five gazelles. I do not know why only one gazelle was designed. Quite appropriately, Denis Alan Nawrocki and David Clements used a picture of this gazelle on the cover of the third edition of their book, Art in Detroit Public Places (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008)
Sculptor: Richard Bennett
Date of installation: 1991.
Material: Stainless steel
Website for the sculptor: http://www.richardbennettassociates.com/
Use in 2009: Public Art
City of Detroit Designated Historic District:
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites:
National Register of Historic Places: This is within the Belle Isle Historic District.
Photograph: Ren Farley; July, 2009
Description prepared: September, 2009
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