Pérez Art Museum Miami Announces The Artist as Poet: Selections from PAMM’s Collection

Spanning Ten Decades, Group Exhibition Addresses Surrealism, the Subconscious, and Poetic Language in Contemporary Art

Opening March 25, 2021

(MIAMI, FL — February 4, 2021) — Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is pleased to announce The Artist as Poet: Selections from PAMM’s Collection, a multi-media group exhibition of rarely-seen works from PAMM’s extensive permanent collection that addresses Surrealism, the subconscious, and poetic language in contemporary art, opening March 25, 2021. Spanning ten decades between 1917 and 2017, the works represent how language––specifically poetry––is used in contemporary art, while shedding light on Surrealism’s profound influence.

By placing contemporary artworks in dialogue with works from decades earlier, such as the 1930s and 40s, the exhibition creates a unique conversation about a rarely discussed topic within art history: the poème-objet (poem-object). The exhibition includes works by Guillaume Apollinaire, André Breton, Joseph Cornell, Aimée García Marrero, Glenda León, Maria Martinez-Cañas, Gordon Matta-Clark, Shirin Neshat, Michael Richards, Ed Ruscha, Purvis Young, Tim Rollins + K.O.S. (Kids of Survival), and more. 

“This is an exhibition that has been in the works for a long time. It was the premise of my Master’s thesis years ago and a story I’ve always wanted to tell. Language and poetry is something all of our viewers will be able to interpret in their own way, so the show is accessible while simultaneously shedding a light on a rich Surrealist tradition of self-reflection through the creation of the poem-object,” said Maritza Lacayo, Curatorial Assistant and Publications Coordinator.

This show underscores the expansiveness and unique character of PAMM’s permanent collection, both in date range and medium. “In the last five years we have doubled our collection and this inventive curatorial project by Maritza Lacayo is exactly the type of creative engagement with the collection that we seek to present to our diverse audiences,” said PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans.

These artists have experimented with language in myriad ways, by incorporating text in the works themselves and by giving the works poetic or playful titles. Included in the exhibition are handmade books, paintings, found objects, constructions, and collage works—the flat precursor to the three-dimensional Surrealist object. Exhibition highlights include an original softcover book by André Breton, rare box constructions and collages by Joseph Cornell, and a never before exhibited large scale work made of book pages on linen by Tim Rollins + K.O.S (Kids of Survival).

André Breton, who is best known as the principal founder of Surrealism, defines a poème-objet as “a composition which combines the resources of poetry and plastic art, and thus speculates on the capacity of these two elements to excite each other mutually.” Language can be subversive in a descriptive and literal way, not only when it functions metaphorically. The idea of using language to subvert the function of an object is what all these artists have in common. Selected from PAMM’s permanent collection and from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, these works explore what it means to classify the “artist as poet.” 

The Artist as Poet: Selections from PAMM's Collection is organized by Maritza Lacayo, Curatorial Assistant and Publications Coordinator.

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), led by Director Franklin Sirmans, promotes artistic expression and the exchange of ideas, advancing public knowledge and appreciation of art, architecture, and design, and reflecting the diverse community of its pivotal geographic location at the crossroads of the Americas. The 36-year-old South Florida institution, formerly known as Miami Art Museum (MAM), opened a new building, designed by world-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, on December 4, 2013 in Downtown Miami’s Maurice A. Ferré Park. The facility is a state-of-the-art model for sustainable museum design and progressive programming and features 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor program space with flexible galleries; shaded outdoor verandas; a waterfront restaurant and bar; a museum shop; and an education center with a library, media lab, and classroom spaces.


Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Support is provided by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. Additional support is provided by the City of Miami and the Miami OMNI Community Redevelopment Agency (OMNI CRA). Pérez Art Museum Miami is an accessible facility. All contents ©Pérez Art Museum Miami. All rights reserved.