With the eyes of Art Basel upon them, local art institutions get ready to shine.
A rendering of Christie van der Haak’s installation More Is More at the Wolfsonian-FIU.
Come December, South Florida’s art museums pull out all the stops, showcasing big names and no less conceptually big ideas, looking to impress not only local culture mavens but also the international crowd winging into town for the annual Art Basel Miami Beach fair. Those heavyweight artists wielding equally imposing ideas don’t come any headier than Germany’s Anselm Kiefer, the subject of a sprawling exhibition at the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. “Regeneration Series,” curated by Museum Director Bonnie Clearwater, includes over 50 Kiefer pieces on loan from the Hall Art Foundation—sculptures as well as paintings—representing the artist’s long-standing focus on Germany’s World War II experience alongside intertwined invocations of the Kabbalah; often controversial, never dull.
Equally striking is a show of new paintings from New York City’s David Reed at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. These fresh works riff off of Reed’s own 1984 abstraction #212 (Vice), a humongous canvas whose creation was influenced by the tropical color palette of, yes, the then-new television show Miami Vice. If you stop to watch the nearby monitors screening vintage episodes of the series, be sure to keep an eye peeled on the backgrounds behind Crockett and Tubbs as they saunter around South Beach; Reed has digitally inserted images of his own Vice-inspired paintings into the episodes.
Then it’s back to Germany, at least in spirit, for “One Day on Success Street” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami—the first American museum survey of work by Frankfurt’s much buzzed-about Thomas Bayrle. Long fascinated by the urban interplay of man and technology, Bayrle switches it up between diverse mediums, from hypnotically charged silkscreens to carefully assembled models of cityscapes.
Over at the Wolfsonian- Florida International University, curators were faced with the dilemma of garnering attention for their exhibition “Modern Dutch Design.” How to dramatize the relevancy of these pioneering—and often visually dazzling—design styles from the late 19th and early 20th century? The solution: Wrap the entire exterior of their Washington Avenue building in More Is More, a tradition-steeped tapestry by contemporary Dutch artist Christie van der Haak. Call it an ingenious way of marrying old and new in a dramatic (and if you’re anywhere nearby, unavoidable) fashion.
At eight feet high, Donald Sultan’s tar-based paintings aren’t quite as monumental as Van der Haak’s handiwork in terms of sheer area—but they’re no less memorable. “Disaster Paintings” at the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum collects 11 of Sultan’s key works from this series depicting images of industrial accidents and human tragedy, evoking classic themes from the continuum of Abstract Expressionism while still carving out an aesthetic terrain that is very much his own.