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Wealth and taste in Miami.
The intellectual and artistic yearning and ardor must have coursed through the atmosphere with a near-electric intensity.
In retrospect, it was a charmed historical moment: It was an age when a generation of American artists were united by a sense of empathy in the way pioneers who confront perilous lands can be. In just a few decades so many of those artists would be decorated with the distinction of defining not just abstract but contemporary art in a new way, not just for New York but for the United States—and all of this transpired at that evanescent moment when America gleamed with the self-satisfaction that comes of being the umbilical point of the world.
That moment can never be recaptured, likely can never be rivaled—it is unlikely that even New York can overgo its past. Now another city is making a bid for a place in both the U.
It is a city that has spent decades as a cultural backwater with the exception of those four days in December when it hosts Art Basel: A quixotic forty-eight hours of gallery and museum visits, exhibition reviews and artist interviews from Little Haiti to Miami Beach had culminated in that lecture which I titled, with a nod to T.
The Art of Keeping Time and Miami. They have everything to do with it. Like youth on the threshold of maturity, the Miami scene is seemingly conscious of aesthetic complexities but uncertain of how to countenance them, thrilled with expectations, ambitions and a tentative optimism about its own future, but troubled by an awareness that optimism cannot vouchsafe success.
What is most interesting about Miami is less about accomplishment and more about the struggle for it, about whether it can manage to achieve and sustain something substantive, unique, meaningful.
And Miami is indisputably making an aggressive bid for recognition: It has difficulty defining one. And without isolating and articulating its haecceity, the Miami art scene cannot coalesce into a distinctive force.
History frustrates that bid for identity which, imagined and otherwise, needs a past to define itself, howsoever fictionalized or mutable that past might be. Insistence that in Miami, history is treated with the same disregard as ephemera is a diffuse position, practically tautological—and practical all the same.
Historic buildings are regularly destroyed in ignorance of their meaning, and art museums were founded only in recent decades and have expanded from the meager single gallery operations they were to bona fide cultural institutions in the last ten years. It currently possesses less than 2, objects in its permanent collection.
After those two days of exposure to the Miami art scene, I mounted that Morales sculpture to explain to an audience filled with individuals energetically making a bid for international recognition why countenancing history is not a luxury but should be a necessity.
Miami cannot grasp its own past, let alone use some form of communal memory to articulate a singular identity with any kind of clarity with any more depth or skill. Moving from theory to practice, I lingered on a number of examples—culled from my past reviews—where history either changed interpretation, compromised it, made art contemporary memorable or accomplished completely the reverse.
Many members of that Miami audience were critically engaged and asked the questions to prove it. Others, however, were so transfixed by what they perceived as critiques against a single artist, New Yorker Andrew Kuo—whom I had reviewed unfavorably in Art in America— that they proceeded to attempt to roil the waters in the most unproductive, sophomoric way possible.
It would have been an amusing exchange had it been possible to ignite a scintilla of intelligent disagreement or intellectual rigor from their questions. Another took issue with their favored Kuo.
It was not dissent that signaled an amateurish arts community; it was the grounds for the dissent and the persistency wedded to belabored, callow attempts to articulate said dissent that bespoke a lack of intellectual maturity and an aesthetic shallowness.
This was a group that did not want to hear about valuing the past and how it might relate to their own efforts to define Miami; they were too distracted by the petty allegiances that ruled them in the present.
Significantly, this process was not innocent: The Birth of Rome was documenting the strategy as it was used to legitimate not just a modern Italy, but a fascist Italy: As numerous intellectual historians might note, the past is inevitably the commerce of the present.
Tellingly, this ambivalence played out at the Wolfsonian through the triangulation of history, identity and fascism.
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|Alana Shilling-Janoff on art and money in Miami||The hotel was a great price for the quality.|
Much of the art in play in Miami galleries and museums could be dismissed as jejune or simply derivative. It has an abundance of metal sculptures featuring triumphantly naked women with large, impossibly perky breasts poised on spheres or rugged rock outcroppings. These tacky goddesses bear aloft tiny spherical objects which they regard with enthusiasm or an air of contemplation.
Both articulate an obsession with identity. From the first, insincerity, radiates an idolatry of surface. Projects of this sort deal in glossy depthlessness.
Such is the passion for this breed of art that even hopelessly derivative works in this spirit are popular.Miami to Key West 1 Day Tour. Includes: only transportation “Miami to Key West" and "Key West to Miami” the same day. Other Add ons: Miami to Key West One Day Tour + Conch Train Tour +$ Miami to Key West One Day Tour + Trolley Tour +$ KEY WEST TRIP DESCRIPTION Take this 4 hour ride across 43 bridges and 31 islands to the "America's Caribbean Islands.".
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