Miami — Home to Art Basel, the hugely popular annual art fair, Miami is also rife with sophisticated collectors who generously share their art with the public. Many have built museum-quality spaces and mount rotating exhibitions, and a number plan special shows timed to coincide with the fair.
Because the fair doesn’t open officially until Wednesday, we spent our first day in this sun-soaked city checking out those private collections. The big news is that we discovered a brand-new one.
While lunching at Michael’s, the famous Design District eatery, we ran into New York artist Michele Oka Doner and critic Anthony Haden-Guest, who sang the praises of an exhibition of works owned by Venezuelan collector Milagros Maldonado. Naturally, we headed right over.
We found ourselves among an entirely Spanish-speaking and glamorous crowd, not to mention Simon Baker and Tanya Barson, curators from London’s Tate Modern, who have curated the exhibition at the nearby Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation.
The Maldonado collection is smaller than many of the others here, but it has a distinctive and coherent vision. Although Maldonado was raised in Latin America, time spent in Rome, Paris and New York helped shape her collection, which marries Latin American masters and contemporary artists from around the world.
Titled “Beyond the Erotic,” the show was expertly installed to engender conversations among artists of different backgrounds. Some examples: Haitian-born artist Edouard Duval-Carrier next to Ghanaian El Anatsui. Portraits of Frida Kahlo by Colombian Leo Matiz, Lola Alvarez Bravo and Manuel Alvarez Bravo (both Mexican) juxtaposed with iconic portraits by Seydou Keita of Mali. An ecological Paradise Lost theme encompassed works by Jose Gamarra, Donisio Gonzalez and Yao Liu (above).
We highly recommend a visit. 2751 North Miami Avenue at 27th Street.
Other notable collections:
De La Cruz Collection. Veteran collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz opened a new exhibition space last year. For the 2010 fair, they have organized an exhibition inspired by a 1955 portrait by Salvador Dali of Dolores Suero Falla, Carlos de la Cruzʼs mother. They riffed off the portrait both formally and conceptually to encompass such disparate artists as Ugo Rondinone, Rachel Harrison and David Altmejd, whose towering mythic figure, “The Shepherd” (right), is not to be missed.
Other highlights: Peter Doig paintings, Arturo Herrera cutouts, a tiny Hernan Bas painting and the entire third floor, an elegant permanent display featuring Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jim Hodges and Ana Mendieta, among others.
As you leave, be sure to catch the colorful public art installation across the street (top photo), which Miami artist Jim Drain created in collaboration with schoolchildren to obscure an abandoned construction site.
Margulies Collection. As always, Martin Margulies’ vast collection at the Warehouse contains some real gems. Frequent visitors will appreciate the pared-down installation. Highlights: a new Olafur Eliasson piece suspended from the ceiling like a disco ball and the room-size installation by Magdalena Abakanowicz. But beware of the selection of African art touted as this year’s special show. Its placement and relationship to the surrounding art did not feel thought through.