Dec. 4, 2013 - May 1, 2015
Pérez Art Museum Miami began to acquire international modern and contemporary art in 1996. The need for expanded spaces to store, conserve, and display the growing collection was a principal driver in the creation of this new PAMM facility. The museum features six large galleries conceived for permanent collection displays. These “overview galleries” run from the first through the second floors forming a spine that joins the remaining ten changing exhibition and project spaces.
To inaugurate these overview galleries, PAMM has brought together key loans and recent gifts from some of Miami’s most significant private collectors with highlights from its own young collection to create a two-year cycle of changing thematic installations collectively titled AMERICANA. An English and Spanish word that broadly describes images and objects produced in the Americas and typical of American cultures, here it is specifically intended to evoke both North American vernacular art collecting traditions and a unique hemispheric perspective that reaches across national borders.
In this first exhibition cycle, AMERICANA includes art produced in South America, North America, and the Caribbean presented in the form of six short visual essays, each offering a critical perspective on a set of related issues in modern culture and society of particular interest to progressive artists. These thematic presentations—Desiring Landscape, Sources of the Self, Formalizing Craft, Progressive Forms, Corporal Violence, and Commodity Cultures—are not organized chronologically but rather juxtapose works from a range of pivotal historical moments since the late 1930s.
The second cycle of AMERICANA exhibitions will debut during the summer of 2014, and treats artistic preoccupations of the post-modern era in the thematic presentations Abstracting Identity, Performing the Museum, Commemorative Acts, Street Scene, Forms of Participation, and Global Positioning Systems.
AMERICANA: Formalizing Craft
Craft traditions differ radically across cultures and generations and involve a vast array of materials, many examples of which are on view in this gallery including fired clay, dyed fabric, quilted materials, mosaicked objects, and woven textiles. Beginning in the 1960s, many feminist artists turned to craft as a celebration of aesthetic forms historically developed by women in both North and South America and as a critique of male-dominated abstract painting tendencies prevalent during this period. From the same period, craft has also been used to reference art-making traditions outside of the West. AMERICANA: Formalizing Craft includes examples of work by pioneering artists alongside work by artists of more recent generations who allude to these precedents in order to address contemporary issues of gender and other identity constructs, as well as diverse cultural narratives.
AMERICANA: Corporal Violence
In contrast to the abstract forms of Minimalism and Geometric Abstraction of the 1960s and 1970s, representational drawing, painting, and conceptual practices from the same period were often employed in an effort to protest institutionalized, government sponsored violence in both Latin America and the United States. The works presented in this gallery feature the wounded, fragmented, or “disappeared” body and address diverse political contexts and events from the past fifty years. In the U.S., these include the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the more recent interrogations at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay; and in Latin America, the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile and the history of guerilla and drug-related violence in Colombia.
AMERICANA: Desiring Landscape
For centuries, representation of the landscape has been a means to explore human desires—from the sensual and sexual to the materialistic— to alternate interpretations of history, and the implications of expanding industry and economic development. In this gallery are artworks that have been produced over the course of the past forty years that consider landscape in critical ways. Executed in a variety of mediums, the majority of these pieces reference the tropical landscapes of Miami, the Caribbean, and South America. These environments are depicted as outside of traditional codes and mores of Western civilization, as lush areas filled with depictions of the sexualized body. Other works speak to the complex legacies of colonialism and environmental exploitation.
AMERICANA: Sources of the Self
This gallery contains artworks from the collection that address traditions involving the unconscious, myth, and ritual as tools for self-definition and identity formation. Several works reference “automatic writing,” gestural drawing techniques pursued by the Surrealists during the early part of the twentieth century. Inspired by the research of Sigmund Freud (1865-1935) and his theories of the unconscious mind, these drawing practices sought to simulate a state close to that of dreams or trance, in order to access otherwise hidden or repressed aspects of the self through the production of forms uninfluenced by reason and the aesthetics of Western culture. Other works reference ancient European, African and South American power symbols related to life, death, sexuality, and reproduction. These symbols are used to push abstraction in diverse and enigmatic directions. In several works they also form part of feminist critiques of traditionally male-dominated histories and modes of expression.
AMERICANA: Progressive Forms
This gallery presents investigations of the legacies of Constructivism, an influential early twentieth-century Russian movement that sought to tie art and design more closely to everyday life through the use of simple industrial materials and machine-like forms. Multiple works engage the grid as a structuring element related to mathematics, order, urban architecture, and industrial production. During the 1960s in the United States, grids and rectangular forms were employed by many artists associated with Minimalism. Their sculptures employ materials such as aluminum and copper in compositions involving repetition or seriality. In Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Venezuela, beginning in the 1950s, the use of geometric forms were closely tied to economic prosperity and the planning of ideal cities. A next generation of contemporary artists from both South and North America created precarious fragmented or eroded grid constructions, as specific references to the unfulfilled legacy of long-term economic and urban development that the geometric abstraction of the postwar period had come to signify.
AMERICANA: Commodity Cultures
This gallery explores the legacies of Pop art and its association with commodities, mechanical reproduction, and commercial modes of display. The works exhibited are produced by both North and South American artists and reference mass-produced images and objects integral to daily life. Many address the ways in which commercial products have come to both mirror and create individual and cultural needs and desires over the past century. Other works subvert commercial forms, corporate branding, and the logics of advertising and market capitalism, in order to explore the nature of labor, the construction of gender identity, economic imperialism, and the evolution of the art market.
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Related Events and Programs
Press Release: PAMM Announces Inaugural Exhibition Schedule
The selection and presentation of artists, collections, and commissioned projects for PAMM is guided by the Museum’s mission to create dialogues across and through local, regional, and international contexts and to emphasize artists and projects that engage with traditions from the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander explains "AMERICANA: Formalizing Craft"
PAMM Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander explains AMERICANA: Formalizing Craft, one six large galleries conceived for permanent collection displays. These “overview galleries” run from the first through the second floors forming a spine that joins the remaining ten changing exhibition and project spaces.
Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander explains "AMERICANA: Corporal Violence"
PAMM Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander explains AMERICANA: Corporal Violence, one six large galleries conceived for permanent collection displays. These “overview galleries” run from the first through the second floors forming a spine that joins the remaining ten changing exhibition and project spaces.
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AMERICANA: Formalizing CraftDownload
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AMERICANA: Corporal ViolenceDownload
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AMERICANA: Desiring LandscapesDownload
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AMERICANA: Sources of the SelfDownload
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AMERICANA: Progressive FormsDownload
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AMERICANA: Commodity CulturesDownload