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Two Powerful Shows Pave Way for Art Basel: Open November 8th at Frost Art Museum

October 31, 2014 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum ushers in Art Basel season 2014 with two powerful shows opening November 8.From China, Wang Qingsong: ADinfinitum, and from Argentina Global Exchange: Geometric Abstraction Since 1950 (from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Buenos Aires, MACBA). Both exhibitions open Saturday, November 8 with a reception 5-8 p.m. Wang Qingsong will present a lecture at 4 p.m.

This strong pairing sets the season into motion with a blaze of elaborate color and spectacle:

Wang Qingsong’s colossal and daring photo-murals encompass the entire third floor of the museum. MACBA’s stellar collection of multinational Geometric Abstraction artists is transported to the Frost’s galleries on the second level. During Art Basel week, the 11th annual Breakfast in the Park showcases FIU’s monumental Sculpture Garden on Sunday, December 7 with American contemporary artist Daniel Arsham as this year’s guest speaker.

Wang Qingsong:  ADinfinitum  (November 8 – January 18)

Recognized worldwide as one of China’s most innovative artists, Wang Qingsong is based in Beijing and was born in 1966 at the start of the Cultural Revolution.  The artist has been invited to Miami for the opening reception and will speak at 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 8.

(Wang Qingsong, Follow Me, 2003)

(Wang Qingsong, Follow Me, 2003)

ADinfinitum features giant photographic masterpieces the artist stages in huge spaces such as movie studios and warehouses. These works depict the drastic changes occurring in China, and the challenges  brought about by this accelerated transition. They chronicle the difficulties that rapid societal change has presented tothe Chinese people.

(Wang Qingsong, The Thinker, 1998, Collection of Anthony Japour)

(Wang Qingsong, The Thinker, 1998, Collection of Anthony Japour)

The artwork can require months of logistical preparation and staging, and recruitment of dozens and sometimes hundreds of models for epic photo-shoots (many are done in one day and with no digital manipulation).

(Wang Qingsong, Follow Him, 2010)

(Wang Qingsong, Follow Him, 2010)

The exhibition is site-specific, featuring 12 of Wang’s large-scale  works (some from the Miami collections of Ella Cisneros, Anthony Japour and Craig Robins). Spanning all three galleries of the Frost’s third floor (a rarity for the museum), the show encompasses 2,500 square feet.

A first for Wang’s solo shows, each gallery is dedicated to a particular theme of his work. The artist’s deep nostalgia for Chinese tradition  permeates one gallery focusing on this core subject matter. One of the artworks in this exhibition, Crazy Readers, has never been shown in the United States.

“Known for wandering the streets of China armed with a camera, Wang states that he uses his photo-murals to witness and emulate the hopes and frustrations of the Chinese people,” said Curator Lidu Yi, professor and art historian at Florida International University. “ADinfinitum brings the story of China past and present to a new Western audience fascinated by his country’s cultural and artistic dramas.”

Wang’s theatrical techniques have won international critical acclaim. From this review by Katherine Brooks, “Wang Qingsong Addresses Chinese Urbanization In Massive, Impressively Crowded Photographs” (on the artist’s website): “To create his expansive images, Wang stages elaborate scenes …  involving dozens of models and meticulously placed props combined in impossible arrangements. From gory hospital scenes in amphitheaters to mock UN meetings under a glaze of fog … equal parts surreal and obsessive, referencing China’s surging material appetite and the rapidly changing economic landscape all in one fell swoop … Wang pushes the boundary between dark fantasy and the reality of his country’s future.” (by Katherine Brooks)

A Global Exchange: Geometric Abstraction Since 1950 (November 8 – January 4)

Part of the Frost’s longstanding collaborative partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Buenos Aires (MACBA), this exhibition features 30 works spanning 1950-2014.The commanding roster of artists showcases MACBA’s emphasis on crosscurrents of influence in geometric abstraction between artists worldwide.The scope of A Global Exchange sets it apart as one of the only group shows to present the interchange among geometric artists on such a global scale and time-line.

The intercontinental cast includes:Tony Costa (Italy), Carlos Cruz-Diez (Venezuela), Gabriele Evertz (Germany), Cristina Ghetti (Argentina), Frederick Hammersley (U.S.), Tadasuke Kuwayama (Japan), Walter Leblanc (Belgium),  Almir Mavignier (Brazil),  Olivier Mosset (Switzerland), Francois Morellet (France), Sarah Morris (U.K.), Matilde Perez (Chile), Francisco Sobrino (Spain), Julian Stanckzak (Poland) and Victor Vasarelly (Hungary).“The exhibition chronicles an international dialogue between artists that was integral to the development of geometric art,” said Curator Joe Houston. He is the author of Optic Nerve: Perceptual Art of the 1960s and was hand-picked by MACBA’s Executive Director Aldo Rubino for the institution’s inaugural exhibition that launched the focus on geometric art.  Houston is curator of the Hallmark Art Collection in Kansas City.

“There’s a selfless quality about geometric art that creates a dialogue beyond individual artists’ private emotions,” adds Joe Houston.”As Richard Anuszkiewicz famously proclaimed in the 1960s: ‘What you see is what you get.’”

“As of Mid-Century, artists from disparate countries experienced newly gained freedom to travel, meet and learn from each other,” adds Houston. “Rapid dissemination and absorption of new ideas about modern painting were transmitted and spread internationally. Not just about the formal and technical concerns, but also about the progressive ideals revolving around the movement, the promises of new technologies, and its new egalitarian and optimistic perspectives after WWII, planting the seeds for future generations of artists,” said Joe Houston.

This updated Miami version of MACBA’s original thrust to explore geometric abstraction adds new focus on modern-day artists spearheading new variations of Color Theory and Op art, plus new acquisitions and historical works not shown before from artists such as Henryk Stazewski. The show traces the trajectories of the movement’s ideals all the way up to the new millennium, with Cristina Ghetti’s 2014 Vibrancy and Joy (zig painting).

There are classic examples of 1960s Op art. The 50th anniversary of the Op movement is in 2015, it debuted  with MOMA’s seminal 1965 show “The Responsive Eye,” making this exhibition at the Frost a well-timed kick-off to this anniversary. Half of the artists in this show participated in the groundbreaking MOMA exhibit.Rarely seen examples of perceptual art, alongside a broad sweep ranging all geometric art perspectives through six decades, are also showcased.

The exhibition invites visitors to ask how geometric abstraction developed over time and distance, how this form has conveyed larger philosophical and political ideals, and how geometric artists changed the traditional relationship between artist and viewer.

“A Global Exchange is more than just the idea behind the name of this exhibition,” said Aldo Rubino, MACBA’s executive director. “It is the philosophy and spirit at the heart of MACBA’s mission. Geometric art has become our sole focus at MACBA because it is an art form present in every element of life. Its relation to other sciences like mathematics and physics allows for more open and embracing qualities. It is inclusive – never exclusive.”

11th Annual Breakfast in the Park
Guest Speaker: Artist Daniel Arsham
Outdoor Sculpture Park:  Sunday, December 7,  9:30 a.m. – noon

Each year, in celebration of Art Basel Miami Beach and to showcase the Frost’s renowned outdoor Sculpture Park, the museum hosts Breakfast in the Park and invites a noted sculptor to speak.

The event draws hundreds of art enthusiasts, patrons, collectors, gallery owners and artists from around the world (many of whom are visiting Miami for Art Basel).Guests enjoy a complimentary outdoor breakfast, plus informal lectures and guided tours of the Sculpture Park and the exhibitions inside the museum.

This year’s guest speaker is Daniel Arsham, a contemporary American artist whose work blurs the lines between art, architecture and performance. He explores issues such as natural-versus-manufactured and intention-versus-happenstance.The Sculpture Park at Florida International University includes a variety of artistic styles and movements situated throughout 26 acres of lush, subtropical landscape:  Abstract-Expressionism, Constructivism, Minimalism, Conceptualism, Earthworks, and Kinetic Art. Forty-four works include sculptures by John Henry, Linda Howard, Alexander Liberman, Barbara Neijna, Michele Oka Doner, Joel Perlman, Robert Thiele, Steve Tobin and Arnold Zimmerman.

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