Susanne Hilberry opened in 1976 the contemporary art gallery named Susanne Hilberry Gallery, which was dedicated to serving as a space where artists, critics and art students met, in order to critically appreciate, the different samples of Detroit’s own talent, which was not showcased anywhere else in this city.
Brief review of Susanne Hilberry
Hilberry was born in Chicago in 1943, a city in which his father was studying medicine, but both he and his wife were originally from Detroit and decided to move his family to this city when Susanne was only five years old.
This entrepreneur had the mission of making Detroit’s art scene known to the world; for which he opened the doors of the Susanne Hilberry Gallery in Birmingham, a suburb of this city, which he later moved to Ferndale, Michigan in 2002.
Over the years, it has expanded its collections with works by artists such as Richard Artschwager, Lynda Benglis, Jun Kaneko, Ellen Phelan, Italo Scanga, Joel Shapiro, Alex Katz, Judy Pfaff, Warren MacKenzie, and Nancy Mitchnick, as well as a few others.
I group in files information pertinent to sales records, correspondence, exhibitions, gallery activities and other documents related to each of the events held even outdoors.
At the beginning of 2017, he issued an email in which he announced that after 40 years of hard work, his business would close its doors; Quoting his words verbatim, the note stated:
“We are beyond grateful for Susanne’s vision and diligence, and extend our sincere gratitude to the many supporters and contributors”
As part of this same email, I take the opportunity to thank all the artists who have been part of the gallery for years; both those of the first level, as well as those emerging and with little experience in the artistic field.
The idea for the opening of this gallery arose thanks to her being an assistant at the Detroit Institute of Arts; where he meets Sam Wagstaff, a famous curator of said institute, as well as photography collectors and a follower of the works of Robert Mapplethorpe; who supports her to bring this idea to life.
For her, Sam Wagstaff was more than a sponsor, he was someone who with his presence gave impetus to her innovative ideas and paved the way for her to support the new adventurous art.
She thought that there was an enormous amount of artistic work in Detroit that needed to be made known in New York and later in many other parts of the world.
Susanne Hilberry with this would become one of the most important art dealers in the region. He knew there were galleries in Detroit today, but felt space was needed to display more of them.
When in 2002 he moved the gallery to the city of Fernadale in Michigan, he managed to find a large and airy place within which he could reflect the sensitivity of each work down to its last detail.
Hilberry before taking on the challenge of creating a gallery, studied art history at Wayne State University plus a master’s degree in architectural history; precisely what led her to be an assistant to Sam Wagstaff at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Also influences the foundation of the Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, encouraging Marsha Miro, who was the president of its inaugural board, to use tools such as Fres Press in it, participating in turn as a member of its steering committee.
This great lady, who was a recognized figure in the Detroit galleries and a driving force, who promoted and spread the audiovisual culture of art for almost 40 years, dies in a Beaumont hospital in Royal Oak at the age of 72.