The Art Newspaper

The ICA Miami goes both global and local in its new home opening this December

Site-specific commissions include works by established stars like Chris Ofili and emerging artists like Tomm El-Saieh

by VICTORIA STAPLEY-BROWN  |  15 March 2017
The ICA Miami goes both global and local in its new home opening this December
A rendering of the ICA Miami's north façade, opening December 2017 (Image: courtesy of Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos
and Wolfberg Alvarez & Partners)

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, which was founded in 2014 and has been camping out temporarily in the historic Art Deco Moore Building in the city’s Design District, will finally get a permanent home on 1 December—and with it some new art. The museum has announced a series of commissions and exhibitions—by artists like Chris Ofili, Tomm El-Saieh, Allora & Calzadilla and Mark Handforth—to kick-start its new 37,500 sq ft building designed by the Madrid-based firm Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos and funded by the local philanthropists Irma and Norman Braman. “We had a lot of conversations around what kind of spectrum would represent what’s going on in the visual arts globally and what we could bring to Miami that perhaps hadn’t been seen before,” says the museum’s director, Ellen Salpeter. “We wanted a mix from global art stars to local art stars and everything in between.”

Situation on land donated by the real estate developer Craig Robins, the Miami Design District Associates, the museum features a new project space on the ground floor for site-specific solo presentations. “It’s a space for the museum to stake a claim that it’s engaged with important emerging artists and bringing them to the world stage”, says Alex Gartenfeld, the deputy director and chief curator. The ICA plans to host three shows in the space every year, starting with an exhibition of new abstract paintings by Tomm El-Saieh, an artist originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti who is now based in Miami (until February 2018).
This choice demonstrates two of the ICA’s goals: to show artists from the local scene, and to give artists their “first” museum exposure. El-Saieh, whose work is already represented in the ICA’s collection, uses “a lot of the traditions of icon painters from Haiti to inform his abstraction,” Gartenfeld says. 

Meanwhile, another ground-floor gallery will display a new site-specific immersive installation with large-scale paintings by Chris Ofili—“an artist who is really at the peak of his powers”, according to Gartenfeld.

Roy Lichtenstein, Artist’s Studio with Model (1974) (Image: Collection of Irma & Norman Braman, Miami)

Installation view, Anna Oppermann, Paradoxe Intentionen (1988-92) (Image: Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, 2016, courtesy the Estate Anna Oppermann and Galerie Barbara Thumm, photo by Jens Ziehe)

Dieter Roth, Table Hegenheimerstrasse (1980–2010) (Image: courtesy Hauser & Wirth Gallery, Photo: Abby Robinson)

The museum’s second and third floors have larger gallery spaces for temporary exhibitions, which will kick off with the largest survey show the museum has ever mounted. The Everywhere Studio (until February 2018), looks at how the artist’s studio has evolved from the post-war period to the present. The chronologically arranged presentation will feature over 100 works, from the institution’s collection as well as loans, by 50 artists, including Carolee Schneeman, Faith Ringgold, Dieter Roth and Neïl Beloufa.

In the staircase linking these two floors, the New Orleans-based artist Charles Gaines will show a new, two-storey group of grid pieces that will “climb the stairs” on a large wall space—a highlight of the new building, Gartenfeld says, that will continue to be used to show site-specific works in the future. 

Outside, the 15,000 sq ft sculpture garden will rotate works from the permanent collection as well as commissions. For the opening, new pieces come from the New York-based artist Abigail DeVille, whose work is “investigative and topical”, Salpeter says; the Puerto Rico-based duo Allora & Calzadilla, who “manage to re-invent sculpture as form” in each work, Gartenfeld says; and a lighted sculpture based on the iconography of the five-pointed star made of a bent telephone pole by the Miami artist, Mark Handforth, who Gartenfeld says “has been a [local] leader for decades”. “I don’t think we could open without a work by Mark Handforth,” Salpeter adds. The planted trees separate the different sculptures to create an “element of surprise and delight as you walk through the garden”, Salpeter says.

While the museum has not yet decided if it will permanently acquire some of the new commissions, the ICA is “programming into 2020, so we certainly have an eye to the future”, Gartenfeld says. Among the upcoming exhibitions are a group show “dedicated to the role of aesthetics in Miami specifically”. The institution is also currently developing “a number of first US solo museum exhibitions for important artists”, Gartenfeld says, but these artists have yet to be named.