Pérez Art Musem Miami Announces Major Gift of Nearly 300 Works from the Collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl

Gift Includes Works by Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Walead Beshty, Ólafur Elíasson, Liam Gillick, Catherine Opie, and Raymond Pettibon, Among Others

Simon Starling, Inverted Theme, USA (A House of a Song Bird), 2002Simon Starling, Inverted Theme, USA (A House of a Song Bird), 2002. Wood, iron, tree trunks, and birds. 133 x 122 x 140 inches. Collection of Miami Art Museum, gift of Dennis and Debra Scholl. © Simon Starling

MIAMI – February 5, 2013 - In anticipation and celebration of Miami Art Museum’s December reopening asPérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Debra and Dennis Scholl, longtime collectors and supporters of the arts in Miami, have donated nearly 300 works of art to the Museum’s permanent collection. The works range in medium and are by artists of international, national and regional significance including Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Walead Beshty, Ólafur Elíasson, Liam Gillick, and Catherine Opie, among others. The Scholl’s gift comes as the Museum prepares to move to its new and expanded facility designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron.  Opening as Pérez Art Museum Miami in recognition of a major donation of cash and art from Jorge M. Pérez, the new building will feature vastly expanded exhibition space to present its growing collections, in addition to special exhibitions.

Spanning the period from 1960 to the present, with an emphasis on works created since 1990, the Scholl's collection gift is particularly strong in the areas of large-scale installation, video art, photography and works by Miami-based artists. The collection supports the Museum's desire to present art from around the world that reflects the specific cultural diversity the community, while nurturing experimental and local artists.

Among the highlights are:

  • Raymond Pettibon’s first video animation enlivens icons of his well-known graphic drawings and paintings on paper, adding motion, narrative, and audio; 
  • a two-part video installation by Aernout Mik, an important large-scale work by the artist that exemplifies his work with staged or fictive scenarios that point towards larger political realities;
  • a major installation by Simon Starling that poetically translates a post-war Puerto Rican housing plan into spaces akin to birdhouses—conflating and restructuring artifacts from modernist history;
  • two examples of Liam Gillick’s sculptural architectural pieces that use colored Plexiglas and metal structures to transform space and offer a site for social interaction;
  • Ólafur Elíasson’s Your Perfect Lovers, an intimate sculptural installation that expands upon the artist’s interest in physical phenomenon and perception, overlaid with a sense of deep personal meaning;
  • and a slideshow and selection of 20 photographic prints by American photographer Zoe Strauss, recently the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Debra and Dennis’ history of championing experimental works of art and emerging artists fits right in with our own exploratory sensibility,” said Museum Director Thom Collins. “The development and maturity of Miami’s unique art community is in large part due to Debra and Dennis’ dedication to fostering the growth of grass-roots-artist projects, and encouraging the more established cultural institutions to take risks, and this gift is a testament to their family’s dedication to this art community. We are extremely grateful for this gift, which ensures that their interest in experimental work will be represented in the collection.”

“The opening of Pérez Art Museum Miami is a major moment in this city’s cultural history, and as part of Miami’s collecting community, it is important to us to contribute so that this city has a significant collection and public art resource,” said Dennis Scholl. “We are delighted to continue our support for the Museum in a way that we hope will be as meaningful to our community as it has been to us," said Dennis Scholl.

"Our collecting is very personal," added Debra Scholl. "We have always acquired works that represent a new dimension in how art is created. These donated works will have an incredible home at Pérez Art Museum Miami, which itself is so focused on expanding people's understanding of art and ideas."

About Debra and Dennis Scholl
Debra and Dennis Scholl are fixtures of the Miami arts community, where they have been active as supporters and collectors for more than 35 years. Together they are known for their openness to new ideas and experimentation, such as opening their home to a young curator to reinstall their collection in new and different ways.

Dennis is the Vice President / Arts for the Miami-based Knight Foundation, where he oversees the foundation's national arts program, including the Knight Arts Challenge and Random Acts of Culture. Debra is the chairperson of Locust Projects, Miami’s leading alternative art space.

Debra and Dennis have also founded a series of initiatives to encourage more established institutions to collect cutting-edge work earlier in artists’ careers. This includes programs dedicated to building the contemporary art collections of museums, including the Guggenheim and the Tate Modern. At Miami Art Museum, this eight-year-old initiative is called the Collectors Council and has been responsible for acquiring more than 100 works for the Museum.

Longtime donors to the Miami Art Museum, the Scholl's have previously have given more than 30 works of art to the Museum, including photographs from Matthew Barney's Cremaster 2 series and Lorna Simpson's photo installation, Magdalena.

About Pérez Art Museum Miami 
Pérez Art Museum Miami, opening in December 2013 in downtown Miami’s Museum Park, is focused on collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary art that represents Miami’s cultural diversity, while providing progressive educational and community programming. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the cutting-edge facility will provide room to showcase growing collections, expanded exhibition space to bring more world-class exhibitions to Miami-Dade County and an educational complex.

Pérez Art Museum Miami was originally founded as Center for Fine Arts, and was strictly an exhibiting organization with no collection of its own. In 1996, as part of an institution-wide reorganization, the museum was renamed Miami Art Museum and dedicated itself to collecting and exhibiting international art of the 20th and 21st centuries with a special emphasis on art of the Americas. In January 2011 work began on a cutting-edge building with generous spaces to showcase its art holdings and attract more top caliber exhibitions. The new facility will open in December 2013 as Pérez Art Museum Miami  in recognition of a landmark leadership gift of now $40 million in cash and art.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Museum is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts; with the support of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners. It is an accessible facility. For sign language interpretation or assistive listening devices please call Miami Art Museum’s education department 305.375.4073 at least five days in advance. Materials in accessible format may be requested.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami building project is supported by the Building Better Communities Bond Program and the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners of Miami-Dade County.