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Miami Art Museum explores Latin American works from the collection gift of Jorge M. Pérez
Pedro Figari, Gato, n.d. Oil on board, 20-3/4 x 32-1/2 © Pedro Figari. Photo: Sid Hoeltzell.

MIAMI, FL.- Miami Art Museum presents for the first time a selection of works from the Jorge M. Pérez art collection, gifted to the Museum December 2011. Frames of Reference, on view through June 2, 2013, explores 45 works of Latin American art in the collection through an art historical lens, emphasizing the tremendous creative and conceptual contributions of artists such as José Bedia, Beatriz González, Wifredo Lam, Roberto Matta Echaurren, Diego Rivera, and Joaquín Torres-Garcia, among others. The exhibition is the last in the Museum’s current space and marks the start of its transition to its new Herzog & de Meuron-designed facility in Museum Park. The Museum will reopen as Pérez Art Museum Miami in honor of Pérez’s now $40 million gift of cash and art.

“As the chief public art museum in Miami-Dade, we are dedicated to expanding our collections for the benefit of our community and developing a curatorial and public program that allows our diverse audiences to have new and accessible cultural experiences,” said Thom Collins, MAM’s Director. “With Jorge Pérez’s generous gift to our collection, we are able to share the work of some of history’s most important Latin American artists. We look forward to continuing to develop such dynamic opportunities for our community with the transition to our new building.”

Organized by MAM Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander, Frames of Reference: Latin American Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection takes visitors through a visual narrative, from scenes of the countryside and folk culture to urban views and the progression toward contemporary abstraction. It highlights important linkages between artists and genre throughout, helping to knit together important pivot points in the history of Latin American art. The exhibition provides a sampling of the breadth of the Pérez collection, while focusing in particular on some of the most important Latin American works entering the Museum’s permanent collection.

The complete collection of 110 works will be integrated into the Museum’s existing collection and displayed in the new facility, providing audiences with an opportunity to experience the full scope of the gift. Other major works in the collection which will be highlighted at future dates, including works by Antony Caro, Chuck Close and Robert Rauschenberg. Pérez, a long-time advocate for the Museum, donated a portion his extensive art collection―valued at $20 million―to support the Museum’s expanding role as a cultural hub and resource for the Miami community. Works were chosen in collaboration with Collins and Ostrander, based on their vision for the growth of the overall permanent collection and the direction of the Museum’s curatorial and public program.

“Frames of Reference provides a singular opportunity to examine aesthetic and conceptual developments in the trajectory of Latin American Art, highlighting some of the best representations of work by influential mid-century artists from the region,” said Ostrander. “The Pérez gift embodies the tremendous awakening to the collecting of Latin American Art that has occurred during the last 30 years in the United States and its importance for the investigation and understanding of the contributions of these artists within the history and evolution of art.”

Highlights from the exhibition, include:

• Beatriz González’s Los Papagayos, 1987, which was painted on a long roll of heavy paper and subsequently cut and redistributed in multiple sections. The painting, which references the corruption and repression enacted by Colombian elected officials and military in recent history, depicts a line of men in military uniform interspersed with a recurring civilian figure dressed in suit and tie.

• Wifredo Lam’s painting La Table Blanche, 1939, which features a severely flattened out perspective and nearly monotone palette of blues, grays, and blacks, is highly characteristic of the austere experimental visual language he embraced during his time in Paris following the Spanish Civil War. Lam is considered the most important modernist painter from Cuba, and is known for his embrace of disparate cultural and aesthetic traditions.

• Crucificción, 1938, by Roberto Matta Echaurren, is a work that marked the artist’s transition from drawing to oil and the start of what many scholars consider his most important creative period. Although references to the landscape can be faintly discerned, the work is markedly abstract and features a menacing, roiling darkness.

• Diego Rivera’s Still Life, 1908, is an early example of the easel work that he was best known for before his adoption of the mural format. While the oil painting displays an affinity towards the composition and bold use of line of Paul Cézanne, it is notable for its clear rejection of more abstract tendencies.

• Joaquin Torres-Garcia is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century in his role of spreading geometric abstraction through Latin America. His work Construcción con dos máscaras, 1949, features one of his favorite recurring motifs, the mask, and is representative of his interest in Native American archeological artifacts.

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