Bruce Weber's Love Letter To Detroit
By Julien Sauvalle
Bruce Weber has a love affair with Detroit. In June of 2006, he came to the Motor City for the first time while on assignment for W magazine. At a moment when many photographers were documenting the decay of a crumbling city, Weber cast local Detroiters to be photographed with model Kate Moss in a high-fashion editorial.
Last year, Weber came back to shoot an ad campaign for the local watch brand Shinola, which based its headquarters in a section of the former General Motors building, and is progressively helping to revive segments of the city as its business thrives.
For the Shinola campaign, Weber reunited with former subjects, and he unearthed compelling new talent, such as 10-year-old prodigy rapper Asia Newson, or poet Natasha T. Miller, two young women who passionately embody Detroit's effervescent art scene.
The exhibition, titled Detroit Bruce Weber, opens this week at the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) with the partnership of Condé Nast. It collects the best of these two projects, along with iconic shots of famous Michiganians (Aretha Franklin and Madonna, hello!) captured by Weber throughout his career, pictures of Detroit landmarks, and portraits of friends, such as Patti Smith, who share the same fascination for the city.
Over 80 photographs (and a short film) celebrate the vibrance and diversity of Detroit's population, which, regardless of the hurdles to overcome, still feels boundless love for their hometown. “Detroit is one of the few places in the world now where there is a big welcome sign in the smiles and hearts of its people,” Weber says. “Their continued courage and resilience is why I first ended up there with my camera."
The photographer is also releasing a book, Detroit Has Been Good To Me ($65), featuring the works shown at the DIA. At the opening night, Patti Smith gave an intimate performance in front of a select audience in the museum's Diego Rivera court, with the artist's monumental Detroit Industry Mural as backdrop. Even Anna Wintour made the trip, proof that when art and devotion collide, mountains can be moved.
Detroit Bruce Weber, free with museum admission. Until September 7, 2014. Museum hours: 9am–4pm Tues–Thur; 9am–10pm Fri; 10am–5pm Sat & Sun. General admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors ages 62+, $4 ages 6–17. Free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members.