Detroit Institute of Arts receives loan of Hughie Lee-Smith painting that hung in high school for years


DETROIT, MI.- Two Figures and Landscape, a 1954 painting from renowned artist Hughie Lee-Smith (1915–1999), recently joined six other works by Lee-Smith in the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) “New Art for a New Self-Awareness” gallery in its suite of African American art galleries. The painting, which shows a couple on a rocky shore with a calm sea beyond them, is on loan from Warren’s Fitzgerald Public Schools, and its route to the DIA is an unusual one. The painting was purchased by the 1954 graduating class at Fitzgerald High School in Warren and, as was customary, given to the school district as a gift from the class. It had been hanging in a break room at the school for decades, unrecognized as a work by a famous artist. When a former student came across an article about Lee-Smith, it jogged his memory of the painting. He contacted Fitzgerald Public Schools Superintendent Barbara van Sweden to let he