By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Barry Fellman has ushered in the new year with an embarrassment of riches at his Center for Visual Communications in Wynwood, where he is exhibiting 120 prints from the archives of Long Island's storied Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE).
"I'm really excited by the exhibit. It's a major coup," Fellman beams. His show is just one of many impressive ones up around town, making this winter season one of the most auspicious for art lovers here in recent memory.
ULAE 50th Anniversary Retrospective: Through February 9. Center for Visual Communication, 541 NW 27th St, Miami; 305-571-1415, www.visual.org.
"Fortunate Objects": Through February 24. CiFo Art Space, 1018 N Miami Ave, Miami; 305-455-3380, www.cifo.org.
"French Kissin' in the USA": Through March 8. The Moore Space, 4040 NE 2nd Ave, Miami; 305-438-1163, www.themoorespace.org.
The ULAE exhibit boasts an arresting array of prints by scores of big-name artists, including Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, and Robert Rauschenberg. It's a must-see, as well as a historical primer on the innovations of printmaking at the atelier during the past half-century.
Knockouts include Johns's iconic Flag from 1967, and a 1977 work, Savarin, depicting a coffee can full of paintbrushes against his trademark crosshatch background. Rauschenberg's significant contributions to printmaking include 14 prints on display, among them Intermission (Ground Rules), dated 1996 and featuring a goat superimposed over a monk standing in front of a statue of the Buddha.
Fellman says ULAE had to build a special press to execute Rauschenberg's immense Soviet/American Array pieces, of which seven of the eight-foot prints are exhibited here.
Another blue-chipper yielding sterling dividends is the "Fortunate Objects: Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection" at CiFo Art Space.
The show features 59 works in a mind-boggling hodgepodge of media by artists ranging from Damien Hirst to Olafur Eliasson and José Antonio Hernández-Diez. It "proposes a playful, imaginative, curious, and unexpected approach to objects used in daily life," curator Cecilia Fajardo-Hill says.
One of CiFo's eyeball whackers is Forever Bicycle by Ai Weiwei. The soaring sculpture is concocted from 74 bikes screwed together and arranged in a merry-go-roundlike circle.
Flirtation, Love, Passion, Hate, Separation, a black-and-white photograph by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, depicts five women's pumps tucked into each other in a pinwheel shape and scampering across the concrete pavement in tumbleweed fashion.
In an untitled collage, Gabriel Kuri takes a stab at consumerism. He has peeled adhesive labels from fruit and other perishables and then plastered them on an old newspaper featuring a photo of an astronaut landing on the moon.
"This show celebrates and investigates the nature of the objects surrounding us, and in doing so, encourages us to re-examine our environment and ourselves," Fajardo-Hill adds.
Named for the title of a hit 1986 Blondie tune, "French Kissin' in the USA," at the Moore Space, lassoes a posse of 19 contemporary French artists pegged "Generation Sampling" for hijacking images, forms, and signs from the virtual and visual dumping grounds.
The ambitious show marks the first United States foray by the bumper crop of emerging French talent. Curator Silvia Karman Cubiña asserts that its significance stems from its origins in a Miami space.
"What's really important is that a local institution actually did the research on the contemporary art scene in France and didn't have to rely on a museum in New York or Los Angeles to do the homework for us. This is the next generation over there, and their work is diverse and compelling," she says.
Brice Dellsperger's spellbinding Body Double 21 is a 20-minute video riffing on Roger Avary's 2002 film, The Rules of Attraction, in which a bizarre love triangle unfolds between a drug dealer, a virgin, and a classmate among the overprivileged set at Camden College. Dellsperger's fascination with body doubles and suicide loops constantly throughout his video, which features a scene with numerous actors slitting their veins in a bathtub. One of the actors, his body heavily covered with tattoos and his face bristling with piercings, could never be mistaken for a screen star.
Fabien Verschaere weighs in with Posada, a room-engulfing wall mural installation the artist created in four days using felt-tip pens. The amazing drawings look like high school slam book doodles or stream-of-consciousness vomit with no beginning or end. Skyscrapers, Disney cartoons, phrases, people screaming, skeletons, and clowns cover the walls.
Like Fellman, Cubiña marvels at the buzz of activity and the rags-to-riches turn of fortune Miami has experienced in recent years. "It's incredible to see so many topnotch shows continuously here throughout the year," the curator says. "That's something that began happening only in the past three years. It's no longer about Basel and one week in December anymore."