Over a busy Detroit intersection hangs a giant fist, sculpted by artist Robert Graham as a monument to heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. The work, commissioned by Sports Illustrated magazine, also exists in the form of several small bronze maquettes, which have been placed on loan to museums throughout the country. The San Diego Museum of Art unveils its replica to the public today.

"The Joe Louis Award" is also being shown at art museums in Oakland, New Orleans, Birmingham, Denver and Los Angeles.

"It is a very interesting realization of a commission," said San Diego Museum of Art director Steven Brezzo. "It's very dramatic." The maquette, which measures 16 1/2 by 16 1/2 inches, features an arm suspended horizontally by cable wires from a pyramidal framework.

Graham, who lives in Venice, Calif., is best known in Southern California for his monumental Olympic Gateway, made for the 1984 Olympic summer games in Los Angeles. "I've wanted a Robert Graham for some time," said Brezzo, who secured the 10-year loan after several unsuccessful attempts to acquire privately owned works by the artist.

The loan is an unusual arrangement, he said, but "museums are more and more going to be involved in acquiring works on loan. It's a very complicated time for us."

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