Developer Jorge Pérez was engulfed in scandal last week when it was disclosed that a Carlos Alfonzo oil-on-paper work that Pérez had donated to Florida International University might be forged. Authorities found the claim credible enough that they removed it from an exhibition, saying that proving its authenticity would take "many months to complete."
But there's nothing bogus about Pérez Art Museum Miami — Herzog & de Meuron's breathtaking masterpiece overlooking Biscayne Bay — which was named for the developer. It offers the best views in the city under a sumptuous Babylonian hanging garden and 500 works on display. It drew tens of thousands of visitors during its opening week, which coincided with Art Basel.
But if you didn't make it to PAMM during Basel, don't go to pieces. You can revel in the stunning building's airy architecture for decades to come. And world-class exhibits by the likes of Chinese über-artist Ai Weiwei will remain on display well into the New Year just like the many other marquee museum and private collection offerings that debuted around town during Basel week.
Dramatic installations abound at PAMM, but it's "Ai Weiwei: According to What?" — the first major international retrospective of Ai's work — that commands the most attention. On view is everything from photography to the large-scale sculptures for which the artist is best known. There's also a towering wall of his trademark tangled bicycles, created specially for PAMM's debut.
Don't miss Ai's sprawling floor piece simply titled Straight. It was created from close to 40 tons of rebar left twisted from the force of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The artist's assistants hammered the tangle straight after the disaster. Across from it, the names of those who perished in the tremor swallow an entire wall.
Another Ai piece that leaves an impression is He Xie, which includes a circular island made from 3,200 porcelain crabs in the middle of a PAMM gallery floor. And if all the staccato jack-hammering and drilling outside the museum annoys visitors, they'll surely find some humor in Ai's amusing Marble Helmet (2010), a construction hardhat elevated to a spectacular classical work.
Perhaps no local collection reflected the cultural cornucopia bursting from Ai Weiwei's homeland more than the arresting "28 Chinese," which showed up at the capacious Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood.
Between 2001 and 2011, Donald and Mera Rubell made a half-dozen trips to China and visited more than 100 artists' studios across the country, from Beijing to Shanghai to Hong Kong. The results of their research: Twenty-eight of the Rubells' galleries are filled with works that include some of China's top-drawer names.
As spectators enter the imposing space, Zhu Jinshi's Boat overpowers the senses with its deceptively massive scale. Although it stretches 40 feet in length and appears like a Cold War-era Triton missile on its side, Zhu's delicate opus is actually crafted from 8,000 opaque sheets of rice paper dangling from the rafters on thin strips of bamboo and cotton thread. Visitors can walk through this somewhat tunnel-like installation.
Guests might be juked straight out of their shoes when they stumble across He Xiangyu's The Death of Marat (2011). The artist has created a lifelike sculpture of Ai Weiwei that would make Madame Tussaud turn cartwheels in her grave. Isolated in its own room, the hair-raising effigy lies prone and appears much like a drunken Baselite after an orgy of hedonistic excess.
The Rubell show offers a can't-miss opportunity to discover why the contemporary art of China is enjoying a boom on the international art scene.
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Revel in more than 60 of British artist Tracey Emin's mostly neon works, lighting up the black-painted walls of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. They span the past 20 years of her controversial career.
Fashioned from enough neon to cover a swath of a Las Vegas casino, "Angel Without You" takes its title from the large-scale neon piece Emin made specifically for MOCA's courtyard during the exhibit.
It's the final exhibit at MOCA curated by the museum's former director, Bonnie Clearwater, and also marks Emin's first U.S. solo museum show. Emin first earned notoriety in 1997 when she exhibited Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, a tent appliquéd with names, at a show at London's Royal Academy. She was nominated for Britain's prestigious Turner Prize in 1999 for the installation My Bed, consisting of her own unmade dirty bed covered with used condoms and bloodstained underwear.
At MOCA, the focus shifts from the starkly personal depictions of the artist's private life. Instead, she uses neon as she did in her iconic The Tracey Emin Museum (1995). Visitors will find a juicy collection of the brash Briton's catchy phrases, such as My Cunt Is Wet With Fear, People Like You Need to Fuck People Like Me, and other classic Emin witticisms. They glow luridly overhead.