Our eye on … Art Basel Miami Beach

Opening in Miami next week, Art Basel’s new Meridians section, dedicated to monumental works, launches in a city already flush with an impressive and growing assortment of large format, public sculpture, some known and some almost hiding in plain sight. The Elmgreen & Dragset piece Bent Pool (2019) will open to great acclaim at the Miami Convention Center, as part of the art work spend for the center’s renovation as part of the city’s ‘percent-for-art’ scheme. However, what else can the savvy art spotter find in Miami?

Among the largest works to be found in the city, and not too far from the Convention Center is Ugo Rondinone’s enormous Miami Mountain (2016), part of the Bass Museum’s permanent collection. Meanwhile, up the Beach, the Aventura Mall Collection boasts a Lawrence Weiner word installation in English and Spanish, a Gary Hume snowball sculpture ironically situated outdoors underneath the glaring sun, and a Carsten Höller slide, so shoppers can blow off steam with a ride down. The Miami Design District has consistently commissioned permanent installations throughout their development, including Urs Fischer’s Bus Stop (2017) – a skeleton reclining indolently in a Miami bus shelter beneath a steady trickle of water – which has become an Instagram-friendly landmark for the development.

Percent-for-art

While some of the Miami installations are on privately owned property, a government initiative, ‘percent-for-art’ directs 1.5% of capital costs for major public developments to art programmes and installations. In the case of the Convention Center, a $600 million USD, three-year renovation of the site, a total of $7 million USD is one of the largest ‘percent-for-art’ purchases ever made in America. Similar percent-for-art schemes are common in Europe – most notably Holland, but also Denmark and others – but regrettably not in the UK. A noteworthy exception to this, however, is the soon to open and hotly anticipated Crossrail scheme in London, which has commissioned substantial new works from nine artists including Spencer Finch, Chantal Joffe, Yayoi Kusama and Richard Wright.

 

Urs Fischer, Bus Stop, 1973, Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 96 in (243.8 x 243.8 cm)

 

Cover Image: Elmgreen & Dragset, Bent Pool, 2019, Steel, stainless steel, aluminium, concrete, lacquer, rubber, lights

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