Art critic Robert Hughes once quipped of artist Jeff Koons that "he has the slimy assurance, the gross patter about transcendence through art, of a blow-dried Baptist selling swamp acres in Florida." The irony, of course, is that Koons work is now being used as a marketing gimmick to sell real estate in Florida. Two sculptures by the artist have become selling points at the Oceana Bal Harbour luxury high-rise.
Of course, Oceana is far from the only real estate project using expensive art to help shill units as the Miami Herald reminds us today in a stomach-churning article.
There're Philippe Starck duck sculptures outside the Paraiso Bay and SLS Brickell, Terry O'Neill photographs inside the sales office of the Bond on Brickell with sculptures by Tatiana Blanc planned for the building, a Michele Oka Doner structure set for the Downtown Doral Development -- and those are just the pieces mentioned in the Herald.
Of course, the good news of all this is that Miami developers have broadened their taste beyond the colorful vomit that is Romero Britto's oeuvre to attract big money. The bad news is the gut-punch reminder that Miami's emergence as a burgeoning art capital was partially spurred by developers, and that, in part, the ultimate goal was to just sell more fancy condos. Mega-developer and Related Group founder Jorge M. Perez didn't pay that $35 million to have the Miami Art Museum renamed after him for nothing, you know.
Carlos Rossi, an Perez underling at the Related Group, talks a good game in the article: "Great cities have great art ... We think art gives another dimension to life."
Sounds nice, if you can afford it.
Though, other developers patter about transcendence through art comes off a bit more real.
"Some [buyers] appreciate art," Mark Zilbert, president of Zilbert International Realty says, "and, those who are new to wealth, as long as they know it's expensive -- they love it."
"People of high net worth who collect homes throughout the world also collect art and watches and wine," adds Mayi de la Vega, founder of One Sotheby's International Realty.
Art in their eyes boils down to just another flashy accouterment for the wealthy, a selling tactic akin to offering a Crystal and Grey Goose open bar at the launch party.
Of course, using art to market to the wealthy is nothing new. But the larger quandary nagging at the soul of Miami is whether are emergence as an art hotspot over the past decade is ultimately culminating in giving another dimension to the life of the wealthy tower-dwellers or something a bit more lasting and meaningful.