Russian Dreams ...
Through February 8. Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530, www.bassmuseum.org. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
At the Bass, this selection of cutting-edge works by contemporary Russian artists — which includes painting, photography, video, and installations — explores the evolution of Russian art from pre-Glasnost times to the present day. The exhibition is a tantalizing goulash of the work of modern Russian artists — a mix of icons and a generation of up-and-comers. The first group of artists came to prominence in the Eighties and Nineties, during the epoch of the Russian underground and Gorbachev's perestroika. At the time, "sots-art" — a satiric blend of socialist realism and pop art that parodied official state-produced art — was the dominant artistic mode. The fresh crop of artists — now between 20 and 30 years old — developed their work in a new, post-perestroika Russia when government bans on personal expression were lifted, which changed the scope of established artists' work. Among the many neck-craning pieces is Defile (2000-07), by the artists' collective AES+F. A collage of video and digital photography, it mixes images of unclaimed corpses in a morgue with shots of haute couture dresses. It pokes fun at the runway shows of Paris, Milan, and London by depicting anonymous stiffs decked out in high fashion while floating over an invisible catwalk. Andrei Molodkin's Democracy (2000) features a series of transparent bubble letter vessels filled with crude oil. By transforming oil from a natural resource into an aesthetic material, Molodkin seeks to explore the troubling intersection between art and money, and in so doing questions the role of oil in Western democracies.
Flying Machine for Every Man, Woman and Child
Through January 18
Moving Through Time and Space
Through January 25
Objects of Value
Through February 22
Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-3000, www.miamiartmuseum.org. Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Presented by MAC @ MAM, "Moving Through Time and Space" marks Chantal Akerman's first major traveling exhibition in the United States. The show features multimedia video installations from her documentary series D'Est (From the East), From the Other Side, Là-Bas, Sud, and a new work created specially for the show. From the Other Side (1999) provides sobering testimony to the plight of Mexican immigrants as they attempt the dangerous crossing from Mexico to the United States. In MAM's New Work Gallery, Yinka Shonibare's A Flying Machine for Every Man, Woman and Child offers a high-wattage commentary about refugees seeking a new life on our shores while millions of tourists arrive here for a romp in the sun. The installation, which was built specifically for Miami, seeks to capture what the Magic City represents for millions of Haitian and Cuban refugees who have made it a new home. At MAM's Plaza Level Gallery, "Objects of Value," a provocative group show including more than a dozen artists, offers a timely and stinging commentary on the economic crisis. Dario Escobar's Silver Skateboard — a bone-crunching piece confected from silver, tin, wood, and plastic — is a striking reminder of art's power to help hard times seem to zip by.
Anri Sala: Purchase Not by Moonlight
Through March 1. Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211, www.mocanomi.org. Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
At the Museum of Contemporary Art, Anri Sala hijacks the language of cinema and video to create disorienting dreamscapes that gnaw at the senses like acid eating through cheap cement. Featuring seven films dating from the late Nineties to the present, the impressive exhibition marks the Albanian artist's first major U.S. museum show. "Anri Sala: Purchase Not by Moonlight" also includes photographs and sculptures that explore a dialogue about the interplay of space and time. Many of the works mine the artist's interest in films that create their own soundtracks and addle the skull with a sense of disconnect. In Mixed Behavior, a DJ appears on the roof of a building in Sala's native Tirana as fireworks pepper the sky and sheets of rain drench him on New Year's Eve. Sala blurs the line between the music and the pyrotechnics, hinting at the relationships between festive celebrations and acts of war. Set in a parking lot under a blazing blue sky, Air Cushioned Ride depicts a car weaving between and around trucks at what appears to by a highway rest area out West. As the car makes its rounds, its radio skips from classic chamber music to country tunes. Sala's films are like jangled poetry in motion, at times both moving and banal yet hewing to the intriguingly ambiguous.
Modern Masters from the Smithsonian
Through March 1
Andrew Reach: Full Circle
Through April 4
Frost Art Museum, Florida International University, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890, thefrost.fiu.edu. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Designed by Yann Weymouth, the new Frost Art Museum is a 46,000-square-foot work of art featuring 10,000-square-feet of gallery space, a soaring atrium, a floating stairwell, and a sparkling Chinese granite façade. The concave edifice is bathed within by natural light filtered through skylights in many of its galleries. The ceilings are covered with fiberglass petals that keep ultraviolet rays from damaging the art. Frost currently houses six exhibitions, including "Modern Masters from the Smithsonian," boasting 43 key paintings and sculptures by 31 of the most celebrated artists who came to maturity in the Fifties, and examines the complex and varied nature of American abstract art in the mid-20th Century. Artists in the show include Franz Kline, Michael Goldberg, Josef Albers, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Larry Rivers, Jim Dine, and others. A poignant homecoming of sorts at Frost is "Full Circle," by local artist Andrew Reach, who has played a role in the museum's rebirth. Reach was an architect working on the new building when a crippling spinal disease ended his career. While recovering, he fought against the pain by refocusing his creativity on art. Reach couldn't paint because of physical limitations, so he turned to the computer and began creating large-format digital images fueled by his passion for Jackson Pollock and Larry Rivers along with Islamic art and African patterns. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Reach has come to roost in a breathtaking structure he helped design and make worthy of inspirational talent.