Widely considered Diego Rivera’s most significant mural, his 1933 Detroit Industry (partial view, above)—a 27-panel fresco lining the courtyard of the Detroit Institute of Arts—is brimming with assembly line workers, blast-furnace scenes, fertility figures, and even a portrait of Edsel Ford, who commissioned it. Come September 6 (through January 5, 2014), it’s the subject of an exhibition at the neighboring Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Curated by Jens Hoffman, “The Past Is Present” will showcase murals by 14 artists invited to respond to events that have shaped Detroit in the 80 years since Rivera completed his masterpiece. The far-ranging themes include the 1937 Ford Motor Company strike, the history of Motor City music, and Detroit’s urban farming revolution. “My idea is that you wander from one mural to another, so it’s almost like walking through the city, if you could travel in time,” says Hoffman, who asked artists such as Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Julieta Aranda, and Pedro Reyes to provide sketches, which were then executed by local artisans.
Photo: Detroit Institute of Arts