Miami Art Basel 2015 – Must See Exhibitions, Best Parties and Events – Updated Dec. 2, 2015

Changes abound for the upcoming Miami Art Basel week 2015. The NADA Art Fair has a new home – the spectacular billion dollar upgraded historic Fontainbleau Hotel. In all previous locations the fair was free to enter – no more; it now $20 a head. The Rubell Family Collection stays in the forefront of the pulse of the artworld with an all woman artists exhibition that will rotate works over the duration of the show. The Marguiles Warehouse will feature a massive four custom built room exhibition of the work of Anselm Kiefer, whose retrospective I saw at the Royal Academy in London in the fall of 2014. The ICA Miami will be getting its new building in 2017 – meanwhile it will have a show of the NYC video artist Alex Bag. The de la Cruz Collection is doing a survey show loaded with art stars working in abstraction. With NADA, Scope, Pulse all having returned to Miami Beach, the major art fair action on the Miami side is now Art Miami and its Context Art Fair. Miami Projects has also moved to Miami Beach into the Deauville Hotel, which NADA just left after last year. Also up will be three stellar shows at Mana Contemporary – including the Frederick Weisman art foundation in Los Angeles, a selection of the Jorge Perez collection, and a selection of Latin America art. There will also be work from artists working in Bushwick. The other major offering will be the exhibition of representational and realist art curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian that will be in the Moore Building in Miami’s white-hot Design District, and the Nari Ward retrospective at the Perez Art Museum, now under the direction of Franklin Sirmans. Isaac Julien’s 15 screen video project commission for Rolls Royce makes its North American debut at Young Arts in Wynnwood.
Miami has a couple of new gallery districts – Little River and Little Haiti, that offer warehouse sized exhibition spaces.
Up the road we can look forward to the opening of the Faena Arts Center in Miami Beach, the new ICA Miami building, and the Museum of Latin American art by Miami gallerist Gary Nader.
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. he recently interviewed William Pope L. at MoCA in Los Angeles for the November 2015, 15th Anniversary issue of FROG magazine.

Art Basel 2015 Sketch Book: 8 Artists to Watch

Mega Guide To Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Tuesday

Gary Pini

Yves Behar is the recipient of the 2015 Design Miami “Design Visionary Award” and he’ll be honored with a special exhibit in the D/M venue behind the convention center through December 6. The VIP preview is today, December 1st. A student team from Harvard was chosen to design the fair’s entrance for their submission, “UNBUILT,” a collection of foam models of unrealized design projects. Expect thirty five exhibitors inside including Firma Casa from Brazil, showing new works by the Campana Brothers, and Italian gallery Secondome, with hand-crafted limited editions.

The Miami Project is also launching a new spin-off this year called SATELLITE that will show various “experimental” projects in unoccupied properties up near their 73rd Street base. One of those, “Artist-Run,” will fill the rooms in the Ocean Terrace Hotel (7410 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach) with different installations from 40 artist-run spaces, curated by Tiger Strikes Asteroid. It’s open from December 2nd to 6th, with a VIP/media event today, December 1st, from noon to 10 p.m. ALSO: Trans-Pecos, the music venue out in Queens, New York, and Sam Hillmer from the band Zs, are putting together a 5-day music program in the North Beach Amphitheater, emphasizing “musical practitioners with some form of art practice.”

X Contemporary launches their inaugural fair in Wynwood running from December 2nd through Sunday, and a VIP opening on December 1st from 5 to 10 p.m. Twenty eight exhibitiors will be on hand, plus special projects including “Grace Hartigan: 1960 – 1965” presented by Michael Klein Arts; a look at the “genesis of street art” curated by Pamela Willoughby; and “Colombia N.O.W.” presented by TIMEBAG.

Target Too InstallationPULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. today, December 1st, featuring a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic; an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. Fair visitors can check out “TARGET TOO,” an installation referencing items sold at the stores, originally on view in NYC last March. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has a lot planned this year including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Goldman Properties’ CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick talks about how art transformed the Wynwood neighborhood in THIS Miami New Times piece. We also hear that New York developer (and owner of Moishe’s Moving, Mana Contemporary etc.) Moishe Mana is planning a new mixed-use development on his 30 acres of land in the middle of Wynwood.

Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian are co-presenting an exhibition of figurative painting and sculpture called “UnRealism” at 191 NE 40th Street, Miami. The opening is on Tuesday, December 1st, but it will be on view all week. According to the NYT, artists featured in the group show will include Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin and David Salle. In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist Rashaad Newsome will lead an “art parade” starting at 6:30 p.m. today at 23 NE 41st Street, Miami and ending at 4001 NE 41st Street.

CONTEXT Art Miami will feature 95 international galleries this year, along with several artist projects and installations including 12 listening stations dedicated to sound art; areas dedicated to art from Berlin and Korea; solo exhibitions by Jung San, Satoru Tamura, Mr. Herget and four others; and a “fast-track” portrait project of workers at Miami International Airport. Context and Art Miami — celebrating its 26th year — open with a VIP preview benefiting the Perez Art Museum Miami on Tuesday, December 1, 5:30 to 10 p.m., at 2901 NE 1st Avenue in Midtown, Miami. The fair is open to the public from December 2nd through the 6th.

ICA Miami (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) opens a major survey of works by the video and performance artist Alex Bag — including her interactive installation “The Van” — on December 1st. The museum recently announced the appointment of Ellen Salpeter, Deputy Director of NYC’s Jewish Museum, as its new director and they’ve just broken ground on a new, permanent home in the Design District. The 37,500 -square-foot building was designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos and is scheduled to open in 2017. Shannon Ebner also has a show, “A Public Character,” on view in the museum during AB/MB and up until January 16, 2016. This is the inaugural program in the museum’s new performance series.

The fourth edition of UNTITLED Miami is on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street from December 2 to 6, with a big VIP preview on December 1st from 4 to 8 p.m. They’ve got 119 international galleries along with non-profit orgs from 20 countries. New this year will be an UNTITLED radio station broadcasting via local Wynwood Radio with interviews, performances and playlists by artists, curators etc.

PAPER Magazine is hosting (and participating in) several events during AB/MB. On Tuesday, December 1st, 6 p.m., David Hershkovits will be “in conversation” with Fab 5 Freddy and David Koh on the topic, “Art On Film,” followed by a special screening of Koh’s film “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict.” The Tribeca Film Festival Shortlist is presenting the event at The Miami Edition (2901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) and SOTO sake sponsors. On Tuesday night (late) and also at the EDITION, PAPER, Silencio, A Hotel Life and One Management host the one year anniversary of the hotel’s BASEMENT nightclub with DJs Seth Troxler, Nicolas Matar and Orazio Rispo.

The Wolfsonsonian FIU Museum (1001 Washington Avenue, South Beach) is open all week with several exhibitions including “An Artist on the Eastern Front: Feliks Topolski 1941,” “Margin of Error,” “Orange Oratory,” “Philodendrum” and “Miami Beach.”

Moishe Mana’s Mana Contemporary (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood plans several exhibitions during AB/MB including “Made in California,” featuring selections from L.A. collector Frederick R. Weisman’s Art Foundation; “A Sense of Place,” with over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Perez; and “Everything You Are Not,” key works of Latin American art from the Tiroche DeLeon collection. All are up from December 3rd thru the 6th, with a VIP preview on December 1st. Mana Urban Arts is also doing a collab with The Bushwick Collective at the former RC Cola Plant (550 NW 24th Street, Miami) that includes over 50 artists — so far the list includes Ghost, GIZ, Pixel Pancho, Case Maclaim and Shok-1 — plus skateboarding, DJs, live music etc.

Bortolami Gallery is opening a year-long exhibition called “Miami” by the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren on December 1st in the M Building (194 NW 30th Street, Miami). The show marks the 50th anniversary of his works with fabric and the 8.7 cm stripe. By periodically installing new works, Buren will also alter the exhibition during the year.

Previewing their upcoming South Beach studio, SoulCycle will pop-up poolside at the 1 Hotel (2341 Collins Avenue, South Beach) starting on Tuesday, December 1st. They plan to open permanently in the hotel in January 2016. The 1 Hotel also offers a fitness and wellness line-up for guests and visitors all week.

Miami gallery Locust Projects (3852 N. Miami Avenue, Miami) returns with their “Art on the Move” series of artists’ projects in public spaces around Miami during December. This year’s work, “NITE LIFE,” by LA-based artist Martine Syms, includes a series of prints displayed on the backs of buses and at bus stops, based on “Chitlin’ Circuit” concert posters by Clyde Killens. There’s a reception for the project, curated by PAMM’s director Franklin Sirmans, on December 1st, 7 to 10 p.m. Also check out the gallery’s site-specific installation “PORE” by Martha Friedman and “Beatriz Monteavaro: Nochebuena” in the project room.

Brickell City Centre (750 South Miami Avenue, Miami) is giving a sneak peek at their work-in-progress development in downtown Miami with an invite-only event, “Illuminate the Night,” on December 1st featuring the unveiling of “Dancers,” a sculpture by UK artist Allen Jones; () music from Wooden Wisdom DJs (Elijah Wood and Zach Cowie) and a 150,000 square-foot glass, steel and fabric structure called “Climate Ribbon” by Hugh Dutton.

The Bass Museum (2100 Collins Avenue, South Beach) is closed for renovations until next year, but they’re still hosting “outdoor activations” in the surrounding park including the AB/MB PUBLIC sector and the display of a neon sign, “Eternity Now,” by Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury. They are co-hosting a private dinner with Salon 94 Gallery on Tuesday in the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel.

Zurich’s Galerie Gmurzynska hosts an invite-only cocktail party at The Villa Casa Casuarina (1116 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach) on December 1, with Sylvester Stallone and Germano Celant. The gallery will be showing a retrospective of works by Karl Lagerfield in their stand at AB/MB, curated by Celant.

The DREAM South Beach (1111 Collins Avenue, South Beach) hooked-up with Brooklyn-based artist — and new GQ “style guy” — Mark Anthony Green for an exhibition of, according to Green, “what 2015 meant to me in both a macro and micro sense…wins, losses, heartbreak and promotion.” The hotel will have a pop-up shop curated by the artist, and guests will get a complimentary print. There’s a welcome reception on Tuesday, a private dinner and afterparty with the Green and A$AP Rocky on Friday and a pool party hosted by YESJULZ on Sunday afternoon.

FLAUNT Magazine and Guess host a private dinner at the Nautilus Hotel in December 1 in honor of their latest cover stars Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Julie Mehretu. After dinner, there’s a poolside party with a screening of “ME” and music by the Martinez Brothers and Pusha T. Expected guests include “ME” writers Susan Taylor & Jefrey Levy and Gina Gershon.

The 2015 edition of Elle Decor’s Modern Life Concept House premieres with a VIP breakfast on December 1st at 250 Wynwood (250 NW 24th Street, Miami). Visits from December 2 to 4 are open to the public with a $35 donation to pediatric cancer research and a reservation via The 6,000 square-foot home will showcase 4 leading designers selected by ED editor-in-chief Michael Boodro.

An exhibition called “LAX – MIA: Light + Space” opens on Tuesday, December 1st, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Surf Club (9011 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). The show was curated by Terry Riley, Joachim Pissaro and John Keenan of PARALLEL and is hosted by The Surf Club and Fort Partners. It’s on view until December 12th, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, closed on Sunday.

Art Basel Basecamp (46 NW 36th Street, Miami), hosted by HGABmag, returns with a space to “re-group, re-fresh and re-energize” featuring charging stations, information booths, giveaways and art installations. Stop in from December 1 to 6, 4 p.m. to midnight daily; and don’t miss their “Alice in Wynwood” closing party on Saturday night.

The first edition of the Curatorial Program for Research Film Festival takes place on December 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cannonball (1035 North Miami Avenue, Suite 300, Miami). The program, “Earthbound,” was curated by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk in collaboration with Dwelling Projects. There will also be a silent auction.

New York-based developer Robbie Antonio debuts his REVOLUTION collection of pre-crafted structures during Design Miami/2015. The limited edition homes and pavilions have been designed by 30 noted architects and designers including Zaha Hadid, Richard Gluckman and the Campana Brothers. The VIP launch is in the Design Miami tent on Tuesday evening.

NYC club No.8 pops-up in the Rec Room at the Gale Hotel (1690 Collins Avenue, South Beach) with DJs including JusSke, Fly Guy and Ross One; the hotel’s Regent Cocktail Club features live jazz, Cuban cocktails, Samba and soul tunes. They’ve also got a digital art installation by Aerosyn Lex.

White Cube’s kick-off party is tonight at Soho Beach House with Giogio Moroder spinning and lots of Moet.

NYC/LA art collective Collapsing Scenery presents “Metaphysical Cops,” a one-night-only video installation on December 1st, 5 to 10 p.m., in the Surf Med Pharmacy (7430 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). It’s a part of the new Satellite Art Fair.

Chloe Sevigny by Pamela Hanson“ICONS,” an exhibition of photos by Pamela Hanson opens at the Shore Club.

BOHO Hunter (184 NW 27th Street, Miami) hosts Monica Sordo’s SS 2016 collection with music from Bea Pernia on December 1st, 7 to 10 p.m.

Miami’s Diana Lowenstein Gallery (2043 N Miami Avenue, Miami) is showing new works by Udo Noger in a show called “Geistlos.” On view all week.

Alejandra Von Hartz Gallery (2630 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has their second solo show by Marta Chilindron, “Temporal Systems,” on view during AB/MB. The multi-dimensional sculptures “explore basic geometric forms, color, transparency, light, space, time and perspective.”

When you pass through Art Miami, look for copies of Jerry Powers’ new Art Miami Magazine, that fair’s first dedicated publication,

STK Miami (2311 Collins Avenue, South Beach) hosts The Drip Factory pop-up gallery featuring artist Louis Carreon doing live painting and music by DJ What on December 1st, 8 to 11 p.m. Invite only.



Must-See New Media at Miami Art Week

Yesterday Kate Durbin’s ‘Hello!Selfie’ performance at PULSE Miami Beach, Photo: Rollin Leonard, 2015

This time of the year, the whole art scene gathers in Miami to—let’s be honest—enjoy the beach, often more than the overwhelming art-filled fairs. Many of our longtime favorite creators converge at this year’s festivities, so to support their efforts, we’ve compiled a coup d’oeil of some quality digital art happenings.

Swapping its successful one-shot hypersalon satellite project for a PULSE Miami Beach booth, TRANSFER gallery offers a more streamlined way to reach a wider audience. “The collaborative experiment that was hypersalon set in motion so many amazing exhibitions and exchanges that unfolded in the past year. But in the end, we managed to create a mostly non-commercial format amidst the biggest feeding frenzy of the commercial art world—not a sustainable project in the ABMB environment,” Kelani Nichole, founder and director of TRANSFER tells The Creators Project.

Transfer gallery’s booth under the massive PULSE Miami Beach tent, 2015

“This year, I went for the exact opposite, securing a white cube in a tent on the beach. TRANSFER is quite fortunate to have the support of PULSE to open their fair to a challenging format of social-media based performance, and their Conversations curated section gave us the perfect opportunity to present two artists working with issues of technology and the body,” Nichole adds. TRANSFER showcases recent works by Faith Holland and Kate Durbin with support from Giovanna Olmos. Both artists will be taking part in panels and screenings.

Faith Holland ‘Sub/emissions’ 2015 40″ x 40″ Digital Painting on Canvas, Edition of 3 + 1AP, Transfer gallery, 2015

Kate Durbin’s Hello!Selfie performance yesterday at PULSE Miami Beach, Photo: Rollin Leonard, 2015

Holland brings her orgasm-inspired and cumshot-generated bodies of works—including her figurative and dynamic Visual Orgasms GIF series and juicy abstract Ookie Canvas paintings, comprising a never-seen-before composition called Peter North. Kate Durbin will present video pieces created from footage of previous iterations of Hello!Selfie, a social media-rooted performance that explores and questions selfie culture in public spaces.

DiMoDa VR installation at Satellite Projects fair, 2015

Alfredo Salazar-Caro and William James Richard Robertson offer Satellite Projects, giving fairgoers the chance to experience DiMoDA, an Oculus Rift-powered VR installation. Filled with delightful digital works by artists Claudia Hart, Tim BerresheimJacolby Satterwhite, as well as Aquanet 2001 by Salvador Loza and Gibran Morgado, the nonlinear virtual exhibition opens new perspectives in terms of curation and museum experiences.

On the other side of the bay, Wynwood-located X-contemporary provides viewers with a bunch of activities ranging from panel discussions, art, and DJ performances, to one-of-a-kind projects in addition to the many artworks showcased by the 30 or so worldwide exhibitors.

Dye sublimation on aluminum, Sara Ludy, Fin (Heat sander), 2015, bitforms gallery

Taking over the beach with its huge tent designed by architects John Keenen and Terence Riley of K/R, the new edition of UNTITLED features many international exhibitors—including the NYC-based bitforms gallery—who explore contemporary curatorial cohesion through today’s wide-ranging art practices.

“bitforms gallery has been a part of the contemporary art world for 14 years,” Steven Sacks, director and owner of bitforms gallery tells us.“We have a very specific focus on new media artists covering a wide range of generations and media types.” His booth brings an impressive roster of artworks by artists such as Manfred Mohr, Daniel Canogar, Jonathan Monaghan, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Sara Ludy, and Quayola, artists who all strongly contribute to the solidification of new media art within the ruthless contemporary art landscape.

Inkjet print mounted on Dibond, Jonathan Monaghan, Dorilton, 2015, bitforms gallery

“The art fairs are an amazing place to reach thousands of art-centric people and introduce and educate them about our unique program, which typically does stand out amongst more traditional galleries. UNTITLED art fair is a smaller, curated fair with more experimental artists, compared to the larger Art Basel fair, which has a lot more traditional art,” Sacks concludes.

Computer, Kinect, display, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 1984×1984, bitforms gallery, 2014

bitforms gallery’s booth at UNTITLED, 2015

Most of the fairs will run through the December 6, 2015.

Click here for more details about PULSE, and here for more on UNTITLED. Click here to check out TRANSFER booth, and here to check out the bitforms booth.



The Definitive Guide to Art Basel Miami 2015, Part One

By  | December 1, 2015

So you’ve made it to MIA for Art Basel 2015, but have you secured a coveted spot on the event’s hautest guest lists? Fear not—we’ve got intel on all the can’t-miss pop-ups, star-studded bashes, and gallery celebrations of the week. Check back for part deux, tomorrow. We hope you remembered to pack your VIP card with your sunnies…

Tuesday, December 1

PAPER Magazine & The Miami Beach Edition Bash
Intel: Celebrate PAPER magazine’s December cover girl Paris Hilton at an intimate, seated dinner.
Location: 2901 Collins Ave., 9:30 p.m. RSVP to

Bello Magazine Kicks Off Art Basel
Intel: The fashion and entertainment mag, with BRAVOTV philanthropist and art gallerist Adriana De Mourainvites Art Basel, invites visitors to join stars from Pretty Little Liars and America’s Next Top Model) for a celebration.
Location: Suitsupply Penthouse, 1000 17th Street., Miami Beach, FL 33139, 6:30 p.m.

W Magazine and Roberto Cavalli Party
Intel: W mag and Roberto Cavalli celebrate the opening of No Man’s Land: Women Artists From the Rubell Family collection.
Location: Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th Street, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Locust Projects Celebrates “Martha Friedman: Pore”
Intel: The nonprofit space Locust Projects is hosting a cocktail reception celebrating Martha Friedman’s new site-specific installation Pore, which includes four sculptures made from 1,000 pounds of rubber (they’re attached to costumes that will be activated during an experimental performance by dancer Silas Reiner).
Logistics: 3852 North Miami Avenue, 7-10 p.m.

MANA Contemporary VIP Dinner
Intel: MANA Contemporary is hosting an exclusive dinner (Zaha Hadid, Dasha Zhukova, Salman Rushdie, etc.) to preview its new exhibitions. Also on tap is a performance by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.
Location: Mana Wynwood Convention Center, 6-8 p.m. Invitate only.

Galerie Gmurzynska Dinner
Intel: Galerie Gmurzynska hosts a cocktail dinner with Germano Celant and Sylvester Stallone.
Location: 1116 Ocean Drive, 8:30 p.m. Invite only.

Faena Hotel Unveiling Party
Intel: This exclusive unveiling of the hotel owned by art collector, developer, and hotelier Alan Faena promises a start-studded crowd.
Location: Faena Hotel, 10:30 p.m. Invite only.

SLS South Beach Gallery and Pop-Ups
Intel: The building transforms into a mixed-media gallery for hotel guests, collectors, and tastemakers showcasing artists and collaborations. The series of installations will vary from public art displays to pop-up retail shops. Par example: Laura Kimpton Property-Wide Installations, Africa Aycart Portraits at The Bazaar by José Andrés, Never-Before-Seen Andy Warhol Pieces at Sam’s Lounge, J. Open HeART Installation at Katsuya & Hotel Pool Duck, Poolside Retail Pop-Up Shops.
Location: 1701 Collins Ave.

Brickell City Centre Bash
Intel: Brickell City Centre is transforming one block of its three-block construction site into an event space. Wooden Wisdom (Elijah Wood + Zach Cowie) will set the vibe. VIPs and local influencers will join Brickell for a lighting ceremony of its newly completed Climate Ribbon (150,000-square-foot glass, steel and fabric by designer Hugh Dutton).
Location: Brickell City Centre, 67 SW 8th St., 7 p.m. RSVP to

Boho Hunter Basel Kick Off
Intel: Monica Sordo invites those in MIA to visit Boho Hunter for cocktails, music by Bea Pernia, and a selection of her collection with sales to benefit The Duerme Tranquilo Foundation.
Location: Boho Hunter, 184 NW 27th St., 7-10 p.m.

Tribeca Shortlist “Art on Film”
Intel: The movie streaming service from Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises hosts “Art on Film” with hip hop pioneer, visual artist and filmmaker Fab 5 Freddy (Fred Brathwaite), independent producer David Koh (Submarine Entertainment) and moderated by PAPER Magazine founder/editor David Hershkovits. Following will be a special screening of the film Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict.
Location: The Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Ave., 6 p.m. RSVP to

SoulCycle Pop-Up
Intel: Get your fitness fix at the SoulCycle pop-up studio, which features live art by Brooklyn-born, L.A.-based Gregory Siff.
Location: 1 Hotel South Beach (2341 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), December 1-4

Architectural Digest “Refuge” Preview Party
Intel: Margaret Russell, editor in chief of Architectural Digest, is throwing a preview party with 1 Hotel’s founder Barry Sternlicht and CEO of the LeFrak Group Richard LeFrak.
Location: 1 Hotel South Beach, 6-9 p.m. Invite only.

The Surf Lodge x Art Basel Miami Beach
Intel: Hamptonites, find solace in Miami this week—The Surf Lodge pop-up offers artist-hosted dinners, poolside cocktail parties, pop-up shop, and wellness classes from Equinox Wednesday through Friday at 10 a.m. Expected guests include Jeremy Scott, Rocky Barnes, Rosario Dawson, Daniel Arsham, André Saraiva, Shepard Fairey, and Jayma Cardoso. Pop into the Surf Lodge Pop-Up Shop to peruse brands including Studio 189 from Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Reds, and Del Toro shoes, each day from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: The Hall South Beach (A Joie de Vivre Hotel), December 1-6, 8-10 p.m. Invitation only.


Wednesday, December 2

Jeremy Scott Party
Intel: Jeremy Scott hosts his annual exclusive bash.
Invite only.

W Magazine and Faena Art’s Roller Disco Beach Party
Intel: Stefano Tonchi and Ximena Caminos celebrate the opening ofAngeles Veloces Arcanos Fugaces, an immersive roller-disco installation by Assume Vivid Astro Focus at Faena Beach.
Location: Faena Beach, 36th Street and the Ocean, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

VH1’s The Breaks Lounge
Intel: Join for a private press preview and a VIP performance by Mack Wilds.
Location: The Breaks Lounge, 801 Ocean Drive at 8th Street. Press preview 4-8 p.m., performance 8-9 p.m.

Burberry + Art Hearts Fashion Miami Art Basel Week at Spectrum Opening Night Gala Presented by Planet Fashion TV
Intel: Join for a VIP cocktail reception before a Burberry fashion show, an artistic runway presentation by Art Hearts Fashion featuring designers Amato Haute Couture, House of LiJon Sculpted Couture and Mister Triple X by Erik Rosete. Stick around for a performance by Island Def Jam recording artist Cris Cab.
Location: Spectrum Miami, 1700 NE 2nd Avenue (NE 2nd Ave. at NE 17th St.), 6-9 p.m.

Kim Hastreiter and PAPER Magazine Party
Intel: Grab a drink and crash some cymbals with Kim Hastreiter, Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes, and PAPER’s Mr. Mickey at a singalon featuring accompanying percussion and singing by art and design luminaries.
Location: Meridian Ave. and 19th St., 5-7 p.m. RSVP to


Thursday, December 3

PAMM Presents: Dimensions, by Devonté Hynes and Ryan McNamara
Intel: Flock to Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) for a one night only performance by Ryan McNamara and Devonté (“Dev”) Hynes, including an original multi-part composition by Hynes, an internationally-acclaimed musician and producer, and sculptural elements and choreography by McNamara, a celebrated performance artist
Location: 1103 Biscayne Boulevard, 9 p.m. to midnight

Brown Jordan and Sunbrella
Intel: The two join photographer Gray Malin for a celebration of art, design and travel, for a first look at the new Miami Design District flagship, an 8,600 square-foot, three-level store of re-imagined native Florida materials, which officially opens January 2016. The event will serve as a “first look” and the store will officially open in January 2016.
Location: 3650 North Miami Avenue

El Tucán
Intel: EL Tucán hosts an exclusive performance by actress and singer Cucu Diamantes, amid trompe l’oeuil murals designed by artist Happy Menocal.
Location: December 3-5, 8 p.m.

The Four Seasons Hosts Antonio Dominguez de Haro
Intel: A retrospective of 17 paintings by Spanish painter Antonio Dominguez de Haro.
Logistics: Four Seasons Hotel, December 3, 6-9 p.m.

EDITION Gallery Pop Up
Intel: EDITION Hotel hosts a pop-up with Bill Powers’ Half Gallery & Harper’s Books and Louis B James Gallery, including book signings by Justin Adian and Sue Williams. On the second floor, virtual artist Jeremy Couillard offers an otherworldly experience with an interactive exhibition.
Location: Bungalow 252, Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Ave. December 3-6. By appointment only.


Friday, December 4

Wall at the W Hotel: Paris Hilton
Intel:Paris Hilton spins alongside Mr. Mauricio for an evening presented by Belvedere Vodka.
Location: 2201 Collins Ave, 11 p.m. RSVP to

Partner \
A Guide to Art Basel: The Must-see Shows and Showcases
Now in its 14th year, Art Basel is bigger and swankier than ever before
Presented By //
T.M. Brown // December 1, 2015

Every year around this time, thousands of dealers, buyers, artists, and scenesters descend on South Florida for Art Basel Miami. Now in its 14th year, the stateside spinoff of the Swiss art fair—and let’s be honest, calling Art Basel an art fair is like calling the Pope a priest—is bigger and swankier than ever before, attracting galleries from all over the globe and providing one of the world’s biggest stages for upcoming artists.

Before we get to all the shows you should be heading to while you’re in Miami, we here at SPIN want to hook you up with an exclusive invitation to K-PAX, a launch event to showcase the collaboration between PAX + K-HOLE, on the rooftop of the Gale South Beach this Friday, December 4th at 5:00 PM, brought to you by the folks at PAX vaporizers.

III Points Art Basel Concert Series (Thursday, December 3 — Saturday, December 5 at Mana Wynwood)

If SXSW moved to Berlin for a year, started wearing a lot of Acne and Gosha Rubchinskiy, and got really into DJ Rashad and Rødhåd, you’d have III Points. The three-year old art, tech, and music festival is quickly becoming a compulsory event for people who have traditionally flocked to Austin in March, so when they decide to throw a three-night concert series in the middle of Art Basel, you know it’s going to be good.

Life and Death Showcase with Richie Hawtin (Thursday, December 3 at 9:00 PM)

III Points Art Basel’s opening night brings iconic label Life and Death to Miami for the fourth time in as many years and the Italian powerhouse did not disappoint with its lineup. The showcase at Mana Wynwood brings Tale of Us, Mind Against, and Thugfucker to the DJ booth, providing a collection of artists that weave the worlds of pop, house, funk, and disco into a singular soundtrack. Oh, and techno legend Richie Hawtin just announced he’ll be joining the Life and Death crew as a special guest so those tickets are going to be hard to come by.

Jamie XX and Four Tet (Friday, December 4 at 9:00 PM)

Jamie xx and Four Tet combine forces once again to provide the centerpiece of III Points concert series. If you haven’t heard what these boys can do when they’re in the booth together, listen to their exceptional BBC One Essential Mix from March and prepare to be blown away by the effortless combination of everything from jungle to electro pop to soul into one smooth set. Both are finishing years filled with international acclaim so this set will be something of a victory lap and we’re all the richer for it.

A$AP Rocky and Kaytranada (Saturday, December 5 at 9:00 PM)

A$AP Rocky and Kaytranada close out the III Points concert series but this Saturday night set is anything but a come down. Rocky is fresh off a huge year including his sophomore release At. Long. Long. Last. ASAP and rumors that he’s working on a project with Kanye West, while Kaytranada has been pounding the DJ circuit, plying his funky house trade at every club worth its salt the world over. Both should be in rare form at Mana Wynwood.

Fuck Art Let’s Dance (Thursday, December 3 at The Electric Pickle at 10:00 PM)

By far the best name of any party happening in Miami during Art Basel week—or any party in any city during any other week—the yearly shindig is bringing Kim Ann Foxman, Justin Strauss, and Miami Players Club to the Electric Pickle in Wynwood for a suite of DJ sets mixing deep house tracks with just the right amount of tropical groove. To cap the night off, Miami staples Psychic Mirrors will be playing one of their legendary live sets, mixing together soul, funk, and psychedelic sounds into something singularly South Beach.

Superfine! Jet Set Jubilee (Thursday, December 3 at 8300 Northeast 2nd Avenue at 7:00 PM)

Ever wanted to see Shamir perform while surrounded by an “immersive” 3000 square foot chandelier designed by the Miami-born, Brooklyn-based artist Diego Montoya? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The minds at Superfine! have put together another expertly curated series of concerts in tandem with their impeccable for contemporary art and design. This time around they’ve brought in Shamir—fresh off his acclaimed debut album Ratchet—for a performance that is larger than life. Literally. That chandelier is going to be huge.

Green Velvet and Tiga (Friday, December 4th at Trade at 11:00 PM)

Any show featuring Green Velvet promises to be as strange as it is fantastic. Techno’s resident oddball is ready to take on Miami alongside Tiga, a 1-2 punch that will satisfy hardcore techno purists and newcomers alike. This show is flying slightly under the radar but don’t sleep on it, these two are the real deal.

DJ Mustard and Fabolous (Saturday, December 5th at Toejam Backlot at 9:00 PM)

DJ Mustard’s fingerprints have been all over the pop and hip-hop landscape for the last year and change so it makes sense that he’s the headliner at this Saturday night show. He’ll be joined by rap stalwart Fabolous for a night of throwback hits mixed with Mustard’s signature sound. RSVP at CLSoundtrack[at]


Fashion, Featured

The Fabulous 5.5: Art Basel Planning Guide #3

December 1, 2015

Under the Radar 2015

With dozens of places to go, thousands of things to see, and a million elbows, here are a few special spots. For those of you who make a career at this, or a career out of bragging about this, or travel to go where fewer have gone, here are 5.5 selections.

#5: Ai Weiwei pops up at Basel more than a pop-up. Why 2015? Colored vases from the Mary Boone Gallery at Art Basel. Protesters: please leave Mr. Wei’s vases alone.

Colored Vases

#4: Say my name; say my name: Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. New York’s Salon 94 brings this Aboriginal Australian’s oil paintings to life mirroring textiles and mimicking sand sculpture. If you know about dreamtime, here it is in reality. Also at Art Basel.


Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri


#3: Joris Van de Moortel: This Belgian artist from Antwerp will present his solo work for the first time in the USA presented by the Denis Gardarin Gallery at UNTITLED. The art teacher’s question, “What is going on in this picture?” earns a lengthy response with works from Rotten Sun, Van de Moortel’s sculpted, painted, musical installation.


Jan Van de Moortel image by WeDocumentArt

#2: Larissa Bates at NADA in the Fountainebleau. Out of Vermont, Costa Rica, St. Augustine’s Monya Rowe Gallery and ARTADIA, there is something of Italy 1450, Ubud 1980, and Tokyo 2005 in one painting, then outback, desert, and prep school in the next.


Larissa Bates

#1: Jennifer Rubell is always on point. Over the years, she has fed Miami’s Art Basel crowd breakfast a dozen times – things like oatmeal, Sun Maid raisins, yogurt, dripping honey, and massive portions of delicious creativity. This year’s food-based installation: Devotion – bread, butter, and a couple to be married later. 9-11am on December 3 at The Rubell Family Collection 95 NW 29th Street.

Jennifer Rubell


.5: The weather forecast is bad, on the radar, not under it.



The North American Premiere Of Isaac Julien’s Commission For The Rolls-Royce Art Programme To Be Shown During Art Basel In Miami Beach

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

GOODWOOD, England, Nov. 17, 2015 — Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, in partnership with the National YoungArts Foundation, will present the North American debut of Isaac Julien’s work Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) during Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. The work by the Turner Prize nominated artist, commissioned as part of the Rolls‑Royce Art Programme, will be shown from 1-5 December 2015 at the National YoungArts Foundation ­– located at the nexus of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, Arts and Entertainment District and Edgewater. The video installation will fill the interior of the magnificent YoungArts Jewel Box across 15 screens, the largest and most impressive presentation of the work to date.

UBS Art Collection Highlights

This year’s annual presentation of work from the UBS Art Collection explores the theme of Inside:Out, complementing and drawing inspiration from the bright, airy and sophisticated redesign of the UBS Lounge and its new hanging garden. The installation features approximately 30 works of art by 15 artists that reflect the notion of bringing the outside in, breaking down barriers between fiction and reality and between public and private space to create images inspired by fantasy, pleasure, sensation, nature and alternative landscapes. A highlight is the newly acquired Native Land (2014), a lightbox by Doug Aitken. Filled with a mosaic of colorful roadside signs, this work highlights the intrusion of advertisements in the American landscape. Additional featured artists include Vija Celmins, Francesco Clemente, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Gilbert & George, Andreas Gursky, Catherine Opie, Marc Quinn, Caio Reisewitz, Gerhard Richter, Pipilotti Rist, David Schnell, Simmons & Burke, Xaviera Simmons, Thomas Struth and Corinne Wasmuht. The works, selected by UBS Art Collection Curator for the Americas Jacqueline Lewis, represent a globally diverse range of artists, themes and media, including installations, kinetic sculpture, painting, drawing and photography.

Miami Herald |


Unrealism: Exhibition of figurative art organized by mega-dealers Jeffrey Dietch and Larry Gagosian. The Moore Building-Elastica, 191 NE 40th St., Design District. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Free.


Gallerist Anthony Spinello launches his Little River space with the fourth Littlest Sister, a “faux” invitation art fair featuring 10 unrepresented women-identified Miami artists in a presentation curated by Sofia Bastidas. Each artist has a solo booth; the fair also includes a sector on sound and performance presentations and a series of critical panels exploring arts and real estate, writing, design and collecting. 7221 NW Second Ave.; 8-11 p.m. Monday; noon-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Free.

 Sean Kelly X Chrome Hearts: Work by Marina Abramović, Los Carpinteros, Jose Dávila, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mariko Mori, Alec Soth and Kehinde Wiley. Chrome Hearts, 4025 NE Second Ave., Second Floor. Free.

100+ Degrees in the Shade: A Survey of South Florida Art: Work by South Florida artists. 3900 N. Miami Ave., Design District. 11-9 p.m. daily. Free.



Your All-Encompassing Guide to Miami’s Sprawling Art Scene

By Alexxa Gotthardt

To the contemporary art set, Miami is a place of annual pilgrimage, where productivity and decadence play nice. Each December, gallerists, collectors, artists, and curators make their way to the palm-studded metropolis to sell their wares, mount exhibitions, and party in duds that would make Miami Vice’s Crockett and Tubbs proud. Art Basel in Miami Beach might be considered the nucleus of this activity, but with satellite fairs and ephemeral exhibitions opening in Art Deco monuments and beach bungalows alike, it’s high time to take a comprehensive look at what’s happening across the city’s sprawl, from South Beach to Little Haiti.

Diana Nawi, photo by Mylinh Trieu Nguyen; Emmett Moore, photo by Gesi Schilling; Nina Johnson-Milewski, photo by Gesi Schilling; Jorge Perez.

With guidance from four Miamians—gallerist Nina Johnson-Milewski, artist Emmett Moore, curator Diana Nawi, and collector and philanthropist Jorge Perez—we highlight the art spaces and watering holes of a city where beaches and swamps, American and Latin American traditions, and collections of rare palm trees and blue chip art collide. Our take away: even after the art-crowd’s dust settles, Miami is a mysteriously enchanting place where cultural output of all persuasions churns.


Miami Beach

Photos by Gesi Schilling.

Edged by sherbet-hued high-rises and beaches dotted with hotel lounge chairs, this skinny strip of land—some call it a sandbar on steroids—is where Miami’s more flamboyant character traits originate. Separated from the mainland by Biscayne Bay, this is the sandy ground on which the holiest Art Deco edifices, flashiest clubs, and the smallest bathing suits consort. It’s also home to sprawling art fairs, beachside pop-up projects, old-school restaurants, and dive bars heralded by glowing neons that look like they were forged in the ’50s.

A. Art Basel in Miami Beach

Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive

After Art Basel expanded to Miami in 2002, settling into the Miami Beach Convention Center (between the beach and the Botanical Garden), the city quickly became an annual stop for collectors and artists. As the parent of an ever-growing brood of art fairs that crop up during the first week of December, this mainstay is the first stop for many people, thanks to its mix of booths from the biggest, bluest-chip galleries and ambitious younger spaces, curated projects, and a constant flow of programming.

B. Design Miami/

Meridian Avenue & 19th Street, adjacent to the Miami Beach Convention Center

Across the street from Art Basel, this sophisticated fair hosts a robust cohort of galleries focused on contemporary and historic design, from immersive architectural environments to jewel-like light fixtures that fit in the palm of your hand, created by the world’s most inspired designers—Giò Ponti, Maria Pergay, and Julie Richoz among them.

Rendering of UNBUILT: Design Miami/ Harvard GSD Pavilion. Courtesy of Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Insider tip: Don’t miss Kengo Kuma’s nomadic tearoom, rendered completely in plastic, at Galerie Philippe Gravier, or Jean Prouvé’s 1939 military hut—the only one of its kind still in existence—at Galerie Patrick Seguin.

C. Bass Museum of Art


Though this museum, founded in 1963 and housed in an impeccably preserved Art Deco structure, is currently under renovation, conceptual artist Sylvie Fleury is hanging her site-specific Eternity Now on the building’s facade from December 1st through May 31st, 2016.

The glowing neon sign is a part of Art Basel and the Bass’s five-year-running public art collaboration in Collins Park, which is adjacent to the museum. This installment, curated by Public Art Fund’s Nicholas Baume, brings works by Sam FallsKatharina GrosseJacob Kassay, and Hank Willis Thomas to the lush lawn.

D. Nautilus, a SIXTY Hotel


Two blocks away and right off the beach, a shiny renovation of this hotel is accompanied by activations from “Greater New York” breakout artist Mira Dancy (with a sprawling mural), Katherine Bernhardt (with a plucky fresco on the floor of one of the pools), Eddie Peake (with a mirrored rooftop installation), and other works tucked playfully into idiosyncratic spaces throughout the compound. Curated by Artsy’s Elena Soboleva, Artsy Projects: Nautilus is a collaboration between Artsy and the hotel.

E. The Standard Spa Miami Beach


Swing by the swank Standard hotel, just off Miami Beach on Belle Isle, for a snack on its expansive deck, or pick up one of Miami-based artist Jim Drain’s limited-edition posters, released for fair week.


South Beach


Ocean Drive and 12th Street

This curatorially driven satellite fair on the beach boasts booths by The Hole, Taymour Grahne, Steve Turner, and even Aperture Foundation. Throughout the week, performances move through the tent and its surrounding landscape. Don’t miss artist and choreographer Madeleine Hollander’s MILE, beginning each day on the east side of the structure at 4 p.m. Also on our radar is UNTITLED Radio, a series of daily radio shows that replace traditional art fair panel discussions.

B. Scope

801 Ocean Drive

This year marks Scope’s 15th anniversary in Miami. They bring 120 exhibitors along with curated sections Juxtapoz Presents, the Breeder Program, and FEATURE, the last featuring 10 booths that highlight new approaches to photography.

C. La Sandwicherie

229 14th Street

For a much needed dose of sustenance after a long day of fair hopping, grab a stool at La Sandwicherie’s counter, where you’ll likely devour one of their signature sandwiches—all available on a croissant in lieu of bread or bun. Wash it down with a smoothie or early evening beer. Or come back late night for a snack and hazy conversation with the post-party art crowd. It’s one of the few places in South Beach that’s open very late—until 5 a.m.

D. Mac’s Club Deuce

222 14th Street

Miami’s oldest bar, Mac’s Club Deuce is also the city’s greatest dive, offering a swirl of whiskey and jukebox tunes to colorful regulars, pool sharks, and wobbling newbies alike. Last year, its Hawaiian shirt-sporting owner, Mac Klein, turned 100.

Exterior of The Wolfsonian-FIU. Courtesy of The Wolfsonian–FIU.

E. Wolfsonian-FIU

1001 Washington Avenue

This museum is one of the crown jewels of Miami curiosities. Founded by Miami philanthropist and passionate collector-wanderer Mitchell Wolfson in 1986 to house his ever-growing collection of decorative art and propaganda—his collecting habits famously began with a stockpile of treasured vintage hotel keys—this wunderkammer is housed in a boxy, stunningly beautiful Mediterranean Revival building. Up now, don’t miss “Margin of Error,” which takes a look at “cultural responses to mechanical mastery and engineered catastrophes of the modern age—the shipwrecks, crashes, explosions, collapses, and novel types of workplace injury that interrupt the path of progress.”

F. Puerto Sagua

700 Collins Avenue

Insider tip: For a quick, low-key, and delicious bite (don’t miss the flan), take a seat at this Cuban diner—and take home one of their fantastic paper placemats, complete with a vintage Miami map. Take note: after a kitchen fire, Puerto Sagua has temporarily closed its doors but is set to reopen on November 30th, just in time for fair week.

G / H / I. Joe’s, Milo’s, and Prime 112

11 Washington Avenue; 730 First Street; 112 Ocean Drive

Insider tip: For a longer, more luxurious meal, try one of Jorge Perez’s favorites: Joe’s for stone crabs, a local delicacy (everyone wears bibs); Milo’s for fresh fish; and Prime 112 for a nice big steak.


North Beach

A. Faena Hotel

3201 Collins Avenue

Collector and hotelier Alan Faena’s newest complex fuses a freshly minted hotel with an ambitious art space called Faena Forum, designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA. While the Forum won’t open until spring 2016, its programming kicks off—and into the streets, during the first week of December, when assume vivid astro focus installs a kaleidoscopic roller-disco on the beach. It’s open to the public, who can take a spin to DJ sets.

Rendering of assume vivid astro focus’s roller rink. Courtesy of FAENA ART.


2901 Collins Avenue

While it might be best known for the long lines that amass outside its club (cool-kid magnet BASEMENT), EDITION hosts a set of diamond-in-the-rough projects in its poolside bungalows. If you can find them through the long marble lobby and stand of towering potted banana plants, Louis B. James (Bungalow 262) shows virtual reality-laced works by Jeremy Couillard, and Harper’s Books (Bungalow 252) hosts a signing with artist Sue Williams of her new, gorgeous monograph on December 2nd.


The Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Avenue

Making a move from the charmingly retro Deauville Beach Resort way uptown to the high-gloss Fontainebleau marks a big shift for the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair, which is focused on younger galleries. From L.A.’s Anat Ebgi to Berlin’s SANDY BROWN to New York’s Karma, its exhibitors are known for bringing an inspired mix of new work into the fold.


Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Avenue

A couple of blocks north is another fair that’s carved a place for itself on the main drag. From mainstay galleries like Yancey Richardson to groundbreaking nonprofits like Visual AIDS and RxArt, most booths here mount focused presentations of works of two to three artists. Don’t miss the fair’s curated section, PLAY, surfacing innovative video and new media selections from idiosyncratic New York-based curator Stacy Engman.

E. Miami Project and Art on Paper

Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Avenue

Take a cab a few minutes north, and you’ll find satellite fairs Miami Project and Art on Paper, taking NADA’s place at the Deauville Beach Resort. Also filling this hub is a dynamic selection of performance, installation, and new media interventions from SATELLITE, a multipart curatorial effort. We’re especially excited that Brooklyn bar and concert venue Trans Pecos is setting up shop there with sets by Fade to Mind and Michael Beharie, among others.

F. Sandbar Lounge

6752 Collins Avenue

Insider tip: Across the street, visit Sandbar Lounge, a sand-covered dive bar for a drink and game of pool after a long day trekking up the beach.


Design District

As you pass across the causeway that traverses Biscayne Bay, Downtown Miami’s skyline comes into focus. Behind it lie some of the city’s most dynamic cultural spaces. You might first land in the city’s Design District, just north of highway 195, where boxy warehouses and parking garages have, in recent years, been converted into sharp design shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

A. ICA Miami

4040 NE 2nd Avenue

While its new Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos-designed building begins construction, the one-year-old ICA brings a strong assortment of contemporary exhibitions to its temporary home. This season surfaces a solo exhibition by radical video artist Alex Bag, which Diana Nawi is keenly anticipating. For his part, Emmett Moore is looking forward to future programming: “I’m excited to see the new ICA building. They’ve managed to put on some great shows in their temporary space so I can only imagine what’s in store.”

B. de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space

23 NE 41st Street

Around the corner, visit one of Miami’s acclaimed private art collections, brought into the public sphere by Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. This year, the group show “You’ve Got to Know the Rules…To Break Them” promises irreverent highlights from the couple’s encyclopedic holdings of today’s most influential work.
Insider tip: “The private collections in Miami are amazing troves of contemporary art,” says Diana Nawi.

Installation view of “Beatriz Monteavaro: Nochebuena.” Courtesy of Locust Projects.

C. Locust Projects

3852 North Miami Avenue

Since its founding in 1998, this artist-run nonprofit space has produced a steady stream of experimental projects. This month, it’s a platform for ambitious work by a bevy of young artists—sculptor Martha Friedman, choreographer Silas Riener, installation artist Beatriz Monteavaro, and conceptual artist Martine Syms.

Insider tip: And as you traverse the city, look out for Syms’s NITE LIFE—graphic prints, emblazoned with phrases like “Darling It Won’t Be The Same Always” plastered on city buses and bus stops. They resemble mid-1900s “Chitlin’ Circuit” posters, which advertised shows at venues where black musicians could perform freely and securely during segregation.

D. Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian’s “UNREALISM” at the Moore Building

191 NE 40th Street

Sometime rivals Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian embark on their first collaboration over four floors (about 28,000 square feet) of this Design District architectural gem. Their joint curatorial project, “UNREALISM,” brings together artists—from John Currin to Elizabeth Peyton to Jamian Juliano-Villani—representing a renaissance in figuration.

Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation. Copyright of Larry Bell. Photo by Alex Marks, 2014. Courtesy of Chinati Foundation.

E. Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation at the Melin Building

Suite #200, Melin Building, 3930 NE Second Avenue

White Cube brings Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation—an ethereal installation built from towering, reflective glass panels—to Miami. The Light and Space pioneer’s masterwork promises a quiet, contemplative reprieve from the teeming fairs and sprawling collection shows.

F. Mandolin

4312 NE 2nd Avenue

Insider tip: For lunch or dinner, try one of Nina Johnson-Milewski’s favorites, Mandolin: “It’s such a lovely atmosphere, owned and operated by the nicest people.” It also serves some of the city’s best seafood, on a hidden patio dotted with sky blue chairs and fresh flowers.

G. Michael’s Genuine

130 NE 40th Street

Insider tip: Or for heartier fare in an equally unhurried environment, grab a seat at Michael’s Genuine, opened by James Beard-honored Michael Schwartz. It’s one of Jorge Perez’s favorites. You’ll have no regrets after devouring the Harris Ranch black angus burger (don’t dare skimp on the brioche bun).


Little Haiti / North Miami

In the 1800s, this area, north of downtown Miami, was covered with lemon groves, from which it drew its first nickname, “Lemon City.” Today, it’s defined by its Haitian immigrant population and burgeoning art scene.

A. Gallery Diet

6315 NW 2nd Avenue

Founded by impresario Nina Johnson-Milewski in 2007, this Miami mainstay recently moved north from Wynwood to a four-building, 15,000 square-foot compound in the heart of Little Haiti. “I’m loving our new home,” says Johnson-Milewski. “For the first time in nearly ten years I have windows and outdoor space. Who knew Vitamin D was so essential?” “Trees in Oolite,” the gallery’s first design exhibition, uses this fresh air to its full advantage. In the complex’s courtyard, brutalist furniture by Emmett Moore, Katie Stout, and Snarkitecture sits among lush mango, avocado, and oak trees. Inside, don’t miss Ann Craven’s solo show of lush skyscapes she painted en plein air in Maine, with the moon and the occasional candle as her only light sources.

B. Spinello Projects

7221 NW 2nd Avenue

This experimental space is up to its old boundary-pushing tricks during fair week with “Littlest Sister,” a conceptual exhibition that calls itself a “faux” art fair, with the tagline “Smallest Art Fair, Biggest Balls.” The project gathers “booths” by 10 women-identified artists, all unrepresented and working in painting, installation, new media, and performance.

C. Michael Jon Gallery

255 NE 69th Street

This gallery’s roster is chock full of up-and-coming artists from across the country—Paul Cowan, Math Bass, and JPW3, to name a few. This month, Sofia Leiby brings bright, active paintings that resemble letters and words breaking out of alphabetic confines and wiggling their way to abstraction.

D. Fiorito

5555 NE 2nd Avenue

Insider tip: Travel south past Little Haiti Park and you’ll find Fiorito, a small Argentinian restaurant that’s “a good local spot for a low key dinner,” says Emmett Moore. “I have dreams about their grilled octopus.”



Haas & Hahn mural in progress at Wynwood Walls. Courtesy of Wynwood Walls. Photo by Martha Cooper.

Wynwood has become the poster child for the rampant expansion of Miami’s art scene to the mainland, and likewise into the city’s streets. Over the last six years, murals have spread across the concrete walls of the district’s abandoned factories and warehouses. Galleries and private collections have followed suit, marking a cultural renaissance for this formerly industrial neighborhood, nicknamed “Little San Juan” for its still-vibrant Puerto Rican community.

A. Wynwood Walls

2520 NW 2nd Avenue

Pioneered by vociferous street art advocate Jeffrey Deitch, along with late real estate developer Tony Goldman, the murals that make up Wynwood Walls were some of the first carrots to draw the international art set to Wynwood in 2009. Every year, new murals are added to the colorful cohort that includes street art’s most influential names—and some of its undisputed masterworks—from Aiko to Shepard Fairey to Futura to Os Gemeos. This year, 14 new murals and installations (by Fafi, Crash, Logan Hicks, and more) are unveiled.

B. Rubell Family Collection

95 NW 29th Street

Amassed by charismatic patrons Donald and Mera Rubell, this expansive collection is housed in a monumental 45,000-square-foot space that was once owned by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This year, they present “NO MAN’S LAND,” focused on the influential output of female artists ranging from Michele Abeles and Jenny Holzer to Shinique Smith.

Insider tip: Don’t miss Jennifer Rubell’s Devotion, one of the artist’s signature interactive food-based installations that, this year, explores buttering bread as an act of intimacy and interpersonal connection, on December 3rd from 9–11 a.m.

C. The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE

591 NW 27th Street

Housed in a repurposed Wynwood warehouse, this must-see private collection belongs to Miamian Martin Z. Margulies. This year, don’t miss new exhibitions of work by Anselm Kiefer and Susan Philipsz, as well as recent acquisitions of pieces by Mark Handforth, Lawrence Carroll, and more.

D. Spencer Finch’s Ice Cream Truck

3401 NE 1st Avenue

Insider tip: While strolling through the neighborhood, drop by artist Spencer Finch’s ice cream truck. “His solar-powered truck will provide anyone in the area with edible frozen works of art free of charge,” explains Jorge Perez.

Mana Wynwood’s facade. Image courtesy of Mana Contemporary.

E. Mana Wynwood

318 NW 23rd Street

This year, Mana Contemporary unveils a 30-acre campus—every corner devoted to contemporary art and culture—that rivals its much talked-about New Jersey compound. Large-scale exhibitions highlighting three influential private collections (the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, and the Tiroche DeLeon Collection) herald this new mainstay on the Wynwood circuit.

F / G. Art Miami and CONTEXT Art Miami

3101 NE 1st Avenue

These sister art fairs, the 26-year-old Art Miami and the four-year-old Context, are must-see stops in Wynwood.

H / I. Panther Coffee, Gramps

1875 Purdy Avenue; 176 NW 24th Street

Insider tip: For a caffeine boost, pass through a the doors of a Barry McGee mural-swathed building to Panther Coffee. Or for a stiff drink among creative Miamians, try Gramps, “pretty much the only bar I got to,” says Emmett Moore. “It has a lot of the qualities of old Miami dive bars with some silly artsy stuff mixed in.”


Park West/Downtown

Taking the southern route from Miami Beach to the mainland, across the MacArthur Causeway, you’ll land in Park West, with Downtown Miami just south of you. Here, skyscrapers house big business and club culture alike. In recent years, the adjacent waterfront, formerly monopolized by the run-down Millennium Park, has transformed into Museum Park, an impeccably manicured landscape of gardens and cultural centers.

A. The Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

1103 Biscayne Boulevard

This stunning museum, which opened its Herzog & de Meuron-designed doors in 2013, recently brought star curator Franklin Sirmans on as director to helm its ambitious program. This fall, don’t miss Nari Ward’s mid-career retrospective, “Sun Splashed,” curated by Diana Nawi, and Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo’s “The Leisure Pit,” which showcases large-scale concrete sculptures, festooned with the occasional flip-flop, that he forged in a swimming pool.

B. Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation

1018 North Miami Avenue

This stunning building, its facade covered in over one million tiles that together resemble a verdant junglescape, houses patron Ella Fontanals-Cisneros’s comprehensive collection of primarily Latin American art. Up now, don’t miss Cuban artist Gustavo Pérez Monzón’s “Tramas.”

C / D / E. The Corner, NIU Kitchen, and Zuma

1035 N. Miami Avenue; 134 NE 2nd Avenue; 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way

Insider tip: For a cocktail (we recommend their Hurricane, complete with passion fruit shrub and pineapple) pop into The Corner, Diana Nawi’s “go-to bar.” For dinner, head south to NIU Kitchen’s beautiful nook for delicious Catalan fare. Or for a more dramatic dining experience, make a reservation at Zuma for elegant Japanese plates enjoyed from a perch overlooking the water.

Photo by Gesi Schilling.

—Alexxa Gotthardt

A Short List of Miami Art Week Events

Gagosian, Stallone and even Edvard Munch are bringing it this year

Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

ven Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

Miami Art Week gets a bad rap for being a nonstop rager, what with the Cristal, the caviar and the unicorn rides (trust me, Peter Brant can make that happen). But, in salute to the fact that what’s on view (I’m talking about art, not bikini models) can be just as intoxicating, we picked out just a handful of events that put the emphasis on art.
For a huge and updating list of events, see


Isaac Julien | Commission for Rolls-Royce Art Programme in Miami for Art Basel in Miami Beach
Jewel Box, National YoungArts Foundation
2100 Biscayne Boulevard
And we’re off! Rolls-Royce, the choice car of haughty old Englishmen and ’90s rappers, has commissioned a new work by influential British artist Isaac Julien titled Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) to be shown at the YoungArts Jewel Box as part of Art Basel Miami Beach 2015. Covering 15 screens, Mr. Julien’s tour-de-force was shot inside isolated glacial ice caves in the Vatnajökull region of Iceland. The artist interpreted this remote landscape as a metaphor for the subconscious, a place of rich beauty that can only be accessed through psychoanalysis and artistic reflection. Damn that’s deep! So if you’re rollin’ through Miami’s Wynwood District this year in your souped up KIA, maybe stop into this exhibit for a much-needed ego (and id) check.

A moon painting by Anne Craven. (Photo: Courtesy of Maccarone, New York)

A moon painting by Anne Craven. (Photo: Courtesy of Maccarone, New York)

Gallery Diet
Ann Craven’s I Like Blue 
Opening reception
6315 NW 2nd Avenue
5-8 p.m.
A teacher’s influence lasts a lifetime. Prime example: One of painter Ann Craven’s former students from a class in 2004 eventually decided to open a gallery in the Basel host-city of Miami. That student was Nina Johnson-Milewski, owner/director of Contemporary art collector favorite, Gallery Diet. Cut to 2015, and that student is about to open a show of her former teacher’s work at her new location in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Little Haiti. Ms. Craven’s painterly goodness is reason enough to see this show—she has serious chops—but this will also be the best place to find crusty die-hard Miami locals, the art lovers who run this city for more than just one week out of the year.


Jarry Deigosian.

Jarry Deigosian.

Organized by Gagosian Gallery and Jeffrey Deitch
Moore Building
3841 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami
Opening reception 5-8 p.m.
This is kind of like when the Penguin and the Riddler teamed up for the very first time: it was fearsome yet wildly entertaining. But what has finally brought former art world foes Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch together under one Design District roof? Figurative painting, of course. You just know it will be a humdinger, too, with works from both the older guard like John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton and David Salle and the very new guard, which includes young hotshots like Jamian Juliano-Vilani and Ella Kruglyanskaya. It’s all part of the evil duo’s diabolical plot to reallocate collector funds to their secret offshore lair, part of a grander scheme to take over the world… Can nothing stop them?

Yo! Adrian, Picasso, et al.

Yo! Adrian, Picasso, et al.

Galerie Gmurzynska ‘dinatoire’ for Germano Celant and Sylvester Stallone
Villa Casa Casuarina
1116 Ocean Drive
8:30 p.m. Private
Guest curator Germano Celant organized the Art Basel Miami booth for this Zurich gallery with some top-notch artists (Picasso, Dubuffet, you know, the usual masterworks) and there’s a party in honor of this fact. It will be held at the sumptuous Villa Casa Casuarina, better known as the former castle-like home of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace, a.k.a. the Versace Mansion. Oh and the star of such mega-hits as Stop or My Mom Will Shoot! and Rhinestone should be making the scene…Mr. Stallone is an accomplished painter himself, f.y.i. Sadly, the event is invite only, but if you Netflix Rocky in your hotel while drinking little bottles of booze from your mini-fridge, you can convince yourself it’s more or less the same thing.


NADA Miami Beach 2012 Photo by Andrew Russeth)

NADA Miami Beach 2012 (Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Russeth)

NADA Miami Beach art fair
Private preview
Fontainebleau Miami Beach 
4441 Collins Avenue
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The market for emerging art is as dead as Dean Martin, right daddio? Wrong. That’s exactly what these fat cats want you to think so they can get all the primo goodies for themselves. Well, we can’t let that happen, can we? This is what you do: set four alarm clocks the night before. Print out your list of potential emerging art targets. I suggest you wear something that you can move well in (a track suit maybe) and show up to the Fontainbleau a few hours early. You might even want to wear some elbow and kneepads. The Horts are not afraid to throw an elbow or two when jockeying for position in front of the Canada gallery booth, and you shouldn’t be either. Okay, deep breath… Let’s do this.


8d609ec7922ef783ea8a71772a967092 A Short List of Miami Art Week Events

Miami meet Munch.

Edvard Munch Art Award
Shelbourne Hotel South Beach
1801 Collins Avenue
By invitation, or Art Basel First Choice
VIP card
Now this is a big deal. The Edvard Munch Art Award is back after an almost 10-year hiatus, and the winner will be announced in Miami during Basel Week (yes, that thud is the sound of  Munch rolling over in his grave.) The 500,000 NOK award (roughly $58,000) is given to “an emerging visual artist, no older than 40 years of age, who has demonstrated exceptional talent within the last five years.” The award also includes a solo exhibition at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. Not a bad haul. That, plus the fact that the reception should be filthy with good-looking Scandinavian models, has us considering this party a rather hot ticket.

What to Expect at Art Basel in Miami Beach This YearBy Matt Stewart | November 20, 2015 | Culture

Art & Culture

The Fabulous 5.5: Art Basel Planning Guide #2

November 17, 2015

Top Art Basel Bar Escapes 2015

Walking around during Art Basel exhausts everyone. Feet hurtin’, eyes burnin’, throat in need. Like a European museum tour, it doesn’t take long for one to burn out. If you are of age, liquid respite beckons.

Who has what it takes near the venues?

Consider these 5 places to escape, and a few semi-non-suggestions.


Do Not Sit5. Do Not Sit On the Furniture is not a command, but a location at 423 16th Street and the premier beach club for the subterranean set. It’s dark, tight, and a global DJ hideout/paradise. It’s designed like Europe — unpretentious and built for dance.

Regent4. The Regent Cocktail Club: On the corner of 17th and James right in the thick of all things on the Beach rests the regent in the rear of the Gale. No place on the Beach feels this much like the famous old-time, pricey, classy New York City barrooms like the King Cole in the St. Regis or Bemelman’s at the Carlyle. If Cleaveland Jones and his Trio are playing like they often do on Thursday nights, settle in for a few delightful, stirring Brazilian-tinged sets. They got skills.

Radio Bar3. Radio Bar South Beach: All those burnt sienna, earthy tones minus any vestiges of natural light make for a good post-modern, post-apocalyptic vibe. It’s both contemporary and sci-fi Twilight Zone – if something happens outside, you might drink your way through it. Easter Island mugs, a pool table, and stylish cocktails contribute. 814 1st Street and looking very different outside from inside.

Broken Shaker2. Broken Shaker: The old Indian Creek Hotel became the Freehand Hostel and these Bar Lab dudes, Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi got semi-famous and started making freaky cocktails and suddenly, yeah like, you know, the place got very hip. Amid the gorgeous patio garden are serious cocktails making waves like this one a while back: Kale and Pineapple Caipirinha. 2727 Indian Creek Drive. You can also chill upstairs at 27.

Repour1. Repour: Established in 2015, Repour has developed serious rapport going as far as the bar in Miami Beach least likely to reveal photos showcasing it. Laid back on the beach, lots of handwritten stuff, rarely overcrowded, and beautiful drinks make this locally popular spot in the lobby of the Albion a champion.

.5 Less than worthy: Take your pick. Cool bad-secret is out backroom Bodega, gorgeous view/too tight dresses at Juvia, UFC/NRA/armed to the teeth/hidden entrance Foxhole, no one can stand it but Anthony Boudain Club Deuce, but none of which could ever be worse than rock-bottom Clevelander (except maybe Mangos).



Art Basel Miami Beach 2015 Party Guide

Art Basel Miami Beach 2015 Party Guide

Photo by Nate “Igor” Smith/

Spring break forever.

Yes, art world, Art Basel in Miami Beach is almost here. And you can pretend all you want that you’re coming to Miami exclusively for the high-brow art and lectures, but nobody’s going to judge you if you manage to get some serious partying done while you’re in town. This is Miami, and if there’s one thing we’re really good at, it’s partying.

And rest assured, there will be tons of parties during Miami Art Week. From the completely free to invite-only, here is the most complete collection of musically driven, nightlife events — with a dash of art thrown in, because, you know, we aren’t savages. And thanks to a generous 5 a.m. closing time — 24 hours in Miami’s Park West district — there’s plenty of time for you to make an Art Basel mistake. (Good news is that mistake probably has a flight back to New York to catch on Sunday.)

Check back often for updates, because we will continue to update this list as more events get announced. Don’t see your event listed here? Send us an email.

Tuesday, December 1

Slap & Tickle Art Basel with Dave1. 10 p.m. Tuesday, December 1, at Bardot, 3456 N Miami Ave, Miami; 305-576-5570; Tickets cost $15 to $20 plus fees via

Favela Beach with Mr. Brainwash, Jus-Ske, Ruen, and Reid Waters. 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 1 at Wall Lounge, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3130; Tickets cost $50 to $70 via

Wednesday, December 2

Behrouz & Friends Art Basel Edition with Damian Lazarus, Behrouz, and Bedouin, Wall Lounge, 2210 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $50 via

A Very Superfine! Kickoff Party with Baio (of Vampire Weekend) and Lauv, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via

Thursday, December 3

PAMM presents “Dimensions” by Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange) and Ryan McNamara, Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Open only PAMM Sustaining and above level members as well as Art Basel Miami Beach, Design Miami, and Art Miami VIP cardholders.

Life and Death Art Basel with Tale Of Us, Mind Against, Thugfucker, and special guest Richie Hawtin, Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Doors 9 p.m.; tickets $15 to $66 via

Connan Mockasin, Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $15 to $20 via

A Jetset Jubilee with Aeroplane with a super special guest (TBA), presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via

Immortal Technique with Hasan Salaam, DJ Static, and El B. 7 p.m. at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; Tickets cost $25 plus fees via Ages 18 and up.

Friday, December 4

When Pigs Fly presented by Link Miami Rebels with artists TBA, Trade, 1439 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $15 to $35 via

tINI and Bill Patrick, Heart Nightclub, 50 NE 11th St., Miami. Tickets $20 to $30 via

Safe Off/Basel 2015 with Martyn, the Black Madonna, and Diego Martinelli, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $18.35 to $21.15 via

Miami Nice Art Basel, All-White Yacht Party, South Beach Lady, Hyatt Dock, 400 SE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $60 via

Jamie xx and Four Tet, presented by III Points and Young Turks, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Doors 9 p.m. Tickets $25 to $400 via

Miami Hearts Design, hosted by Karelle Levy with a KRELwear living installation, with Afrobeta and Millionyoung, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $15 via

Avey Tare (Animal Collective) DJ set with Byrdipop and Uchi (live), Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $15 to 20 via

Nakid Magazine Issue Release Party celebrating Jen Stark. 10 p.m. Friday, December 4, at Libertine, 40 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-363-2120; Admission is $10.

Saturday, December 5

Danny Howells, Do Not Sit On the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $20 via

Crew Love Art Basel with Soul Clap, PillowTalk (live), Nick Monaco, Navid Izadi, Jeremy Ismael, and Miami Players Club, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $15 to $35 via

Big Times in Little Haiti with Jeffrey Paradise (of Poolside), Gilligan Moss, and Krisp, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel at 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via

David Squillace. 11:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5, at Wall Lounge, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3130; Tickets cost $40 to $70 via

Sunday, December 6

The Visionquest Experience with Visionquest (Lee Curtiss, Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves), DJ Three, Behrouz, and more, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $20 to $30 via

Dark Basel with Necro and Madchild. 7 p.m. at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; Tickets cost $20 plus fees via Ages 18 and up


Market News

NADA Miami Beach Will Move to the Fontainebleau Hotel


The Fontainebleau lobby.


NADA Miami, the New Art Dealers Alliance’s fair during Art Basel Miami Beach in December, will be moving to the Fontainebleau Hotel on Collins Avenue for its 2015 edition. NADA opened in Miami in 2003, and in 2009 moved to the Deauville Beach Resort, in North Miami Beach, where the fair remained through last year.The de la Cruz Collection is doing a survey show loaded with art stars working in abstraction.

The ICA Miami


On view December 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016

ICA Miami will present a solo exhibition dedicated to video and performance artist Alex Bag during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2015. On view in ICA Miami’s Atrium Gallery, The Van (Redux)* centers around one of Bag’s key videos, The Van, 2001, and features a dramatic new site-specific installation. This exhibition marks the first major U.S. presentation of the artist’s work since 2009.



The Rubell Family Collection

Genzken I Schauspieler
Isa Genzken, Schauspieler, 2013


Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection

December 2, 2015, through May 28, 2016


The Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, on view in Miami from December 2nd, 2015 through May 28th, 2016. This exhibition will focus on and celebrate work made by more than a hundred female artists of different generations, cultures and disciplines. These artists will be represented by paintings, photographs, sculptures and video installations that will entirely occupy the Foundation’s 28-gallery, 45,000-square-foot museum. Some galleries will contain individual presentations while others will present thematic groupings of artists. Several installations have been commissioned specifically for this exhibition.

In order to present the exhibition’s scope and diversity the Foundation will rotate artworks on view throughout the course of the exhibition, presenting different artists at different times. All of the artworks in the exhibition are from the Rubells’ permanent collection.

Other exhibitions organized by the Foundation include 30 Americans, which is currently on view at the Detroit Institute of Art through January 18, 2016 and 28 Chinese which is currently on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art through January 3, 2016. 30 Americans has now been presented at 9 institutions and seen by over one million people.

A fully illustrated catalog with essays will accompany the exhibition. A complimentary audio tour will also be available.

To celebrate the opening of NO MAN’S LAND, Jennifer Rubell will be presenting Devotion, her 12th annual large-scale, food-based installation on December 3, 2015 from 9 to 11 a.m. Devotion will explore the everyday gesture as a medium for the expression of love. Using bread, butter, and a couple engaged to be married as her media, Rubell will transform the simple act of cutting and buttering bread into a poetic exploration of repetition as devotion


List of artists:

Michele Abeles
Nina Chanel Abney
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Kathryn Andrews
Janine Antoni
Tauba Auerbach
Alisa Baremboym
Katherine Bernhardt
Amy Bessone
Kerstin Bratsch
Cecily Brown
Iona Rozeal Brown
Miriam Cahn
Patty Chang
Natalie Czech
Mira Dancy
Karin Davie
Cara Despain
Charlotte Develter
Rineke Dijkstra
Theo Djordjadze
Nathalie Djurberg
Lucy Dodd
Moira Dryer
Marlene Dumas
Ida Ekblad
Loretta Fahrenholz
Naomi Fisher
Dara Friedman
Pia Fries
Katharina Fritsch
Isa Genzken
Sonia Gomes
Hannah Greely
Renée Green
Aneta Grzeszykowska
Jennifer Guidi
Rachel Harrison
Candida Höfer
Jenny Holzer
Cristina Iglesias
Hayv Kahraman
Deborah Kass
Natasja Kensmil
Anya Kielar
Karen Kilimnik
Jutta Koether
Klara Kristalova
Barbara Kruger
Yayoi Kusama
Sigalit Landau
Louise Lawler
Margaret Lee
Annette Lemieux
Sherrie Levine
Li Shurui
Sarah Lucas
Helen Marten
Marlene McCarty
Suzanne McClelland
Josephine Meckseper
Marilyn Minter
Dianna Molzan
Kristen Morgin
Wangechi Mutu
Maria Nepomuceno
Ruby Neri
Cady Noland
Katja Novitskova
Catherine Opie
Silke Otto-Knapp
Laura Owens
Celia Paul
Mai-Thu Perret
Solange Pessoa
Elizabeth Peyton
R.H. Quaytman
Aurie Ramirez
Magali Reus
Marina Rheingantz
Bridget Riley
Cristina Lei Rodriguez
Pamela Rosenkranz
Amanda Ross-Ho
Jennifer Rubell
Analia Saban
Lara Schnitger
Collier Schorr
Dana Schutz
Beverly Semmes
Mindy Shapero
Nancy Shaver
Cindy Sherman
Xaviera Simmons
Lorna Simpson
Shinique Smith
Lucie Stahl
Jessica Stockholder
Sarah Sze
Aya Takano
Fiona Tan
Mickalene Thomas
Rosemarie Trockel
Kaari Upson
Hannah Van Bart
Paloma Varga Weisz
Marianne Vitale
Kara Walker
Mary Weatherford
Meg Webster
Carrie Mae Weems
Jennifer West
Sue Williams
Haegue Yang
Anicka Yi
Lisa Yuskavage



2015 16 sponsors 2


OCTOBER 28, 2015 THROUGH APRIL 30,, 2016


What are the new acquisitions on exhibition this year?
Anselm Kiefer, Susan Philipsz, Meuser, Lawrence Carroll, Mark Handforth, Liat Yossifor

Who are the artists new to the Warehouse collection?
Susan Philipsz, Mark Handforth, Liat Yossifor

What artists have permanent installations at the Warehouse?
Pier Paolo Calzolari, Anthony Caro, Willem de Kooning, Donald Judd, Olafur Eliasson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Flavin, Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, Amar Kanwar, Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, George Segal, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, Franz West

Checklist of Artists in this year’s Exhibitions
Magdelena Abakanowicz, Ronald Bladen, Martin Boyce, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Anthony Caro, John Chamberlain, Willem de Kooning, Willie Doherty, Ursula Schultz Dornburg, Olafur Eliasson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Dan Flavin, Kendall Geers, Antony Gormley, Mark Handforth, Michael Heizer, Pieter Hugo, Hans Josephsohn, Amar Kanwar, Anselm Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Meuser, Domingo Milella, Jackie Nickerson, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, George Segal, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, Simcha Shirman, Alec Soth, Michael Spano, Franz West, Pavel Wolberg, Manabu Yamanaka


Miami’s art museums are grabbing headlines with splashy staff hires and well-heeled additions to their boards. Yet when it comes to actual artwork, the city’s marquee collectors — and their personally run exhibition spaces — continue to steal the show. The latest example of “The Miami Model”? A sprawling retrospective from the German blue-chip artist Anselm Kiefer that fills nearly a quarter of the 45,000-square-foot Margulies Collection at the Warehouse — a garment factory transformed into a showcase for art holdings of the real estate developer Martin Margulies.The exhibit opens Wednesday, but “it will be up forever,” Mr. Margulies said. “If you think I ever want to go through this again … .” he trailed off, motioning to the flurry of activity throughout the Warehouse this week. Mr. Kiefer directed a small army of art handlers whirring about on hydraulic lifts, racing to install an array of 25,000-pound detritus-filled sculptures, 10-feet-high neo-runic paintings, and charcoal wall inscriptions, just hours before a dinner benefiting the Lotus House homeless shelter. The works include the new sculpture, “Ages of the World,” a 17-foot stack of 400 unfinished canvases, lead books, rubble and dried sunflowers.Mr. Margulies played down the show being any kind of aesthetic shot across the bow of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, despite his public feud with that institution over its continuing to receive millions in tax dollars from a struggling community rather than relying solely on private contributors. Instead, Mr. Margulies hoped visiting schoolchildren would learn from Mr. Kiefer’s handiwork: Don’t let meager materials limit your vision. “They should realize this is the creative process of an artist.”Mr. Kiefer, 70, remains a controversial figure within the art world, alternately lionized and denounced for artwork invoking both World War II Germany and the kabbalah. Some see transcendent statements, others a reduction of the Jewish experience to kitsch. Both factions will find plenty of grist at the Warehouse, where Mr. Kiefer’s works refer to everything from the poet and Nazi labor camp survivor Paul Celan to the Old Testament’s Lilith.“Important work always creates polarization,” Mr. Kiefer explained. “The victims understand. Those people who see in me a glorifier of fascism — when you look into them, you find they have something to hide themselves.” As for the distinction between having his work shown in a “private” versus public museum, Mr. Kiefer hoped the former would proliferate. Collectors should be free to bypass museum curators, he said, and lavishly pursue their own tastes. He compared the phenomenon with the early 20th-century construction of public libraries by moguls like Andrew Carnegie: “I think it was J. P. Morgan who said, ‘If you die rich, it’s a mistake.’ ” BRETT SOKOL

The de la Cruz Collection

The de la Cruz Collection presents their 2016 exhibition “You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them.” Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz have selected a group of artists from their personal collection who have been associated with defining 21st century practice. Self-aware of the influence that technology and the rise of consumerism has had on their work, artists exhibited follow the cool forms of Minimalism, Conceptualism and Abstract Expressionism, while injecting their works with subtle negations of their own process. Looking at traditional techniques behind painting and sculpture, these works co-exist timelessly as strategies of stylistic appropriation raise questions of subjectivity and originality.

“You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them” contextualizes New American Abstraction with German Neo-Expressionism, revealing earnest explorations of the artists technical acumen.Through experimentation, they antagonize accepted practices by drawing upon a variety of themes including cultural, historical and sociopolitical modes.

Per contra, the third floor contains a study in portraiture and memory with the works of Félix González-Torres, Ana Mendieta and Rob Pruitt. By transforming everyday objects and using energetic gestures and repetition, González-Torres, Mendieta and Pruitt accept diverse ideologies and reject the notion that art has a single vantage point.

By merging a variety of styles and mediums, the works selected for this year’s exhibition mirror contemporary culture while allowing an open-ended conversation of various interpretations and possibilities. Artist in the exhibition: Allora & Calzadilla, Tauba Auerbach, Walead Beshty, Mark Bradford, Joe Bradley, Dan Colen, Martin Creed, Aaron Curry, Peter Doig, Jim Drain, Isa Genzken, Félix González-Torres, Mark Grotjahn, Wade Guyton, Rachel Harrison, Arturo Herrera, Evan Holloway, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, JPW3, Alex Katz, Jacob Kassay, Martin Kippenberger, Glenn Ligon, Michael Linares, Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, Ana Mendieta, Albert Oehlen, Gabriel Orozco, Jorge Pardo, Manfred Pernice, Sigmar Polke, Seth Price, Rob Pruitt, Sterling Ruby, Analia Saban, Josh Smith, Reena Spaulings, Rudolf Stingel, Cosima von Bonin, Guyton/Walker, Kelley Walker, Christopher Wool.


Mana Contemporary Announces Its 2015 Miami Art Week Program

Presenting exhibitions from three of the most prestigious private art collections in the United States.

Nov 03, 2015, 16:01 ET from Mana Contemporary

MIAMI, Nov. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Mana Contemporary is pleased to announce its second edition of programming during Miami Art Week, taking place from December 3 to 6, 2015. Held at Mana’s 30-acre campus in the Wynwood arts district, this event will inaugurate the central 140,000-square-foot building’s new role as the Mana Wynwood Convention Center.

Mana Contemporary will present a diverse roster of exhibitions and programs, including:

Made in California: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation
Made in California—a phrase popularized in Ed Ruscha’s groundbreaking text/image works—will be a must-see exhibition during Miami Art Week. Frederick R. Weisman was a pioneering Los Angeles collector of California art as it emerged as a center for contemporary art in the 1960s. He built a collection that includes many of the artists that rose to prominence under the legendary Ferus Gallery, and who went on to define art movements such as Light and Space, Finish Fetish, Postmodernism, and beyond. Under the direction of Mrs. Billie Milam Weisman, the foundation continues to amass a substantial collection of Los Angeles and California art. On view will be works by John Baldessari, Mary Corse, Ron Davis, Sam Francis, Joe Goode, Tim Hawkinson, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha, among many others.

A Sense of Place: Selections from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection
Co-curated by Patricia Hanna and Anelys Alvarez
Including a selection of over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Pérez, A Sense of Place is an exhibition that explores cultural identity by way of the collection’s recent acquisitions of works by artists from Latin America. Despite the fact that these artists are working in a globalized world, where technology and communication transcend physical boundaries, many of these artists continue to construct personal and cultural identities by exploring ideas that are specific to their contexts of origin. The show will examine the idea of building cultural identity, and how artists use abstraction, architecture, politics, and memory to carve out a sense of place, and how those concerns are reflected in Pérez as a collector and Miami as a developing city. Pérez, named one of the most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by TIME magazine, is considered a visionary for incorporating the arts into his South Florida real estate developments.

Everything you are I am not: Latin American Art from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection
Curated by Catherine Petitgas
Everything you are I am not presents a selection of key works of Latin American contemporary art from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection. Borrowed from a piece in the collection by Argentine artist Adrian Villar Rojas, the title of the exhibition alludes to the common practice among contemporary artists from the region to subvert the canons of mainstream art to produce thought-provoking, often humorous works. With 55 pieces by 30 artists, the exhibition will explore several different facets of this approach. The Tiroche DeLeon Collection was established in January 2011 by Serge Tiroche and Russ DeLeon with a focus on the up and coming art scenes of Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. London-based Petitgas is one of the world’s most respected collectors of Latin American art, as well as a writer, lecturer, and art historian.

Mana Urban Arts x Bushwick Collective
Mana Urban Arts Project is collaborating with Bushwick Collective to bring live graffiti painting by 50 influential artists to Mana Wynwood’s RC Cola factory. Renowned artists include: Ghost (New York), GIZ (New York), Pixel Pancho (Italy), Case Maclaim (Germany), and Shok-1 (England). The industrial space adjacent to Interstate 95 will transform into a vibrant scene featuring a skateboarding exhibition, breakdancing, DJ performances, and live music.


PINTA Miami is the only curated boutique art fair with a specific geographic focus that looks to be an international platform for Ibero-American art identities and issues. The fair will showcase the best of abstract, concrete, neo-concrete, kinetic, and conceptual art movements. PINTA has updated its format to present a fully curated fair, featuring an international team of recognized curators chosen to direct each of the five newly designated sections of the fair.


VIP Preview Reception
An exclusive preview dinner will feature a performance by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

III Points Music Festival
In partnership with III Points, Mana Contemporary will present a series of after-hours music events in Mana Wynwood’s 36,000-square-foot sound stadium.


Mana Contemporary
December 3-6, 2015
Mana Wynwood Convention Center
318 NW 23rd Street
Miami, FL 33127

Preview Reception
Tuesday, December 1: 6pm9pm: By invitation only

Public Hours
Thursday, December 3: 11am – 8pm
Friday, December 4: 11am – 8pm
Saturday, December 5: 11am – 8pm
Sunday, December 6: 11am6pm

Admission to Mana Contemporary’s events at Mana Wynwood is complimentary, unless otherwise noted. For tickets and information regarding PINTA Miami, please visit


Art Basel is just a month away. Last year the fair attracted 73,000 visitors to the Miami Beach Convention Center and this year’s 14th edition looks to be even bigger and better, with 267 galleries from 32 countries exhibiting from December 3rd to the 6th — plus the former head of NYC’s Armory Show, Noah Horowitz, is now running the fair.

Rendering of the new Miami Beach Convention Center
Work on the $615 million renovation of the convention center is scheduled to begin as soon as AB/MB ends, so look for big changes next year. The $20 million re-do of Lincoln Road is also moving along with NYC’s James Corner Field Operations, the firm that did The High Line, winning the contract to update the original Morris Lapidus design from the 1950s.

All the AB/MB side-sectors return, including SURVEY with 14 booths showing “historically informed” works; NOVA, where you’ll find 34 younger galleries showing new works; and sixteen POSITIONS galleries focusing on emerging artists, including Villa Design Group‘s installation of 10 doorways derived from the scene of the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace on Ocean Drive and, “Polyrhythm Technoir,” a filmed “allegory to contemporary electronic music” by Henning Fehr, Danji Buck-Moore and Phillip Ruhr, presented by Galerie Max Mayer.

UNBUILTYves Behar is the recipient of the 2015 Design Miami “Design Visionary Award” and he’ll be honored with a special exhibit in the D/M venue behind the convention center from December 2 through 6. A student team from Harvard was chosen to design the fair’s entrance pavilion for their submission, “UNBUILT,” a collection of foam models of unrealized design projects. Expect thirty five exhibitors including Firma Casa from Brazil, showing new works by the Campana Brothers, and Italian gallery Secondome,with hand-crafted limited editions.

Several changes and new editions are coming to the numerous — 18 and counting — satellite fairs: Miami Project and Art on Paper move into the Deauville Beach Resort (6701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach), the former site of the NADA fair; while the 13th edition of NADA heads down the street to the Fontainebleau (4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach).

The Miami Project is also launching a new spin-off this year called SATELLITE that will show various “experimental” projects in unoccupied properties up near their 73rd Street base. One of those, “Artist-Run,” will fill the rooms in the Ocean Terrace Hotel (7410 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach) with different installations from 40 artist-run spaces, curated by Tiger Strikes Asteroid. It’s open from December 2nd to 6th, with a VIP/media event on December 1st from noon to 10 p.m. ALSO: Trans-Pecos, the music venue out in Queens, New York, and Sam Hillmer from the band Zs, are putting together a 5-day music program in the North Beach Amphitheater, emphasizing “musical practitioners with some form of art practice.”

Grace HartiganX Contemporary also joins the crowd with their inaugural edition in Wynwood running from December 2nd through Sunday, and a VIP opening on December 1st from 5 to 10 p.m. Twenty eight exhibitiors will be on hand, plus special projects including “Grace Hartigan: 1960 – 1965” presented by Michael Klein Arts; a look at the “genesis of street art” curated by Pamela Willoughby; and “Colombia N.O.W.” presented by TIMEBAG.

Kate Durbin’s “Hello Selfie” / Courtesy of the Artist/Photographer Jessie AskinazPULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. on December 1st featuring a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic, an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. Fair visitors can check out “TARGET TOO,” an installation referencing items sold at the stores, originally on view in NYC last March. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood WallsWynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has a lot planned this year including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Goldman Properties’ CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick talks about how art transformed the Wynwood neighborhood in THIS Miami New Times piece. We also hear that New York developer (and owner of Moishe’s Moving, Mana Contemporary etc.) Moishe Mana is planning a new mixed-use development on his 30 acres of land in the middle of Wynwood.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU (10975 SW 17th Street. Miami) will have 5 exhibitions featuring 4 Miami-based artists: Carola Braco, Rufina Santana, Carlos Estevez and Ramon Espantaleon. Plus there will be a show called “Walls of Color” with murals by the post-war NY artist Hans Hofmam and, this year, the annual “Breakfast in the Park” on Sunday, December 6th, 9:30 a.m. to noon, honors American sculptor Alice Aycock.

Pauchi Sasaki’s speaker dressThe Mandarin Oriental Miami (500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami) and Peru’s gallery MORBO host an exhibition called “Pure Abstraction” by Peruvian artist Alex Brewer, aka HENSE, in the hotel’s Peruvian restaurant, La Mar by Gaston Acurio. There’s a VIP preview in the restaurant on December 3rd featuring a violin performance by Pauchi Sasaki who’ll be wearing her dress made from speakers.

A previous food installation by Jennifer RubellThe Rubell Family Collection (95 NW 29th Street, Miami) will present a big exhibition called “No Man’s Land” featuring women artists from their extensive collection. It’s up from December 2nd until the end of May and will include paintings, sculptures, photos and videos by over 100 female artists. Because of the large number of works, artworks will be rotated throughout the course of the show. Jennifer Rubell will present her twelfth large-scale, food-based installation,”Devotion,” on December 3rd, 9 to 11 a.m. She’ll be using “bread, butter, and a couple engaged to be married” as her media.

Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” from the air.

“Our Hidden Futures” is the overall theme for this year’s AB/MB film program. Over 50 films and videos will be screened on the giant projection wall outside of the New World Center (500 17th Street, South Beach), plus over 80 more can be accessed in the convention center film library. The Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach) will be showing director James Crump’s Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art on Friday, December 4, 8:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Crump and Basel film curator Marian Masone. The evening screenings in SoundScape Park include short films with program themes ranging from “Speak Easy” to “Vanishing Point.”

Rachel in the Garden (2003), by John Currin; © John Currin. Photography by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian are co-presenting an exhibition of figurative painting and sculpture in the Moore Building (3841 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami). The opening is on Tuesday, December 1st, but it will be on view all week. According to the NYT, artists featured in the group show will include Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin and David Salle.

Since 2005, the KABINETT sector of AB/MB has invited galleries to display curated installations. This year, there are 27 exhibitions including a new work by L.A. artist Glenn Kaino called “The Internationale” that re-interprets the iconic Pierrot character — and his “only friend,” the moon — interacting with visitors via “seminal texts on post-colonial theory.” Galerie Krinzinger will be showing Chris Burden’s “Deluxe Photo Book 1971 -1973,” documenting the first three years of his performances. And Galerie Lelong will present a selection of shaped, “erotic” canvases by the Puerto Rico-based artist Zilia Sanchez.

CONTEXT Art Miami, the sister fair to Art Miami, will feature 95 international galleries this year, along with several artist projects and installations including 12 listening stations dedicated to sound art; areas dedicated to art from Berlin and Korea; solo exhibitions by Jung San, Satoru Tamura, Mr. Herget and four others; and a “fast-track” portrait project of workers at Miami International Airport. Context and Art Miami — which is celebrating its 26th year — open with a VIP preview benefiting the Perez Art Museum Miami on Tuesday, December 1, 5:30 to 10 p.m., at 2901 NE 1st Avenue in Midtown, Miami. The fair is open to the public from December 2nd through the 6th.

“Coven Services” (2004) by Alex Bag

ICA Miami (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) presents a new theatrical performance called “Artist Theater Program” by Erika Vogt, Shannon Ebner and Dylan Mira on Thursday, December 3rd at 4 p.m. Ebner also has a concurrent show, “A Public Character,” on view in the museum during AB/MB and up until January 16, 2016. This is the inaugural program in the museum’s new performance series. Also opening on December 1st is a major survey of works by the video and performance artist Alex Bag, including her interactive installation “The Van.” The museum recently announced the appointment of Ellen Salpeter, Deputy Director of NYC’s Jewish Museum, as its new director and they’ve just broken ground on a new, permanent home in the Design District. The 37,500 -square-foot building was designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos and is scheduled to open in 2017.

Installation by Alan SonfistMiami’s “art hotel” The Sagamore (1671 Collins Avenue, South Beach) has a new installation by environmental/landscape sculptor Alan Sonfist on view all week, along with their incredible Cricket Taplin Collection of contemporary art. The hotel’s annual VIP brunch — featuring a new Electronic Arts Intermix installation — is on Saturday, December 5th, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Subway Station” by Louis Lozowick

The INK Miami Art Fair celebrates their 10th anniversary and maintains their exclusive focus on printmaking and works on paper. They’re back in the Suites of Dorchester (1850 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from Wednesday, December 2nd, through Sunday. Highlights include a lithograph by Louis Lozowick called Subway Station, NYC (1936) at Susan Teller Gallery’s booth and A World in a Box (2015) by Mark Dion published by Graphicstudio/U.S.F.

New York-based branding and event collective FAME is popping-up in Miami from December 2 to 6 with their ” Superfine! House of Art & Design” (8300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) in Little Haiti. They’re promising “the arty party of the year” with a big opening night December 2nd, 6 to 10 p.m, featuring a gigantic chandelier installation by Diego Montoya and music all week from Gilligan Moss, Lauv and more TBA. Plus, Afrobeta plays on Friday at a party hosted by PAPER fave, textile artist Karelle Levy.

The fourth edition of UNTITLED Miami is on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street from December 2 to 6, with a big VIP preview on December 1st from 4 to 8 p.m. They’ve got 119 international galleries along with non-profit orgs from 20 countries. New this year will be an UNTITLED radio station broadcasting via local Wynwood Radio with interviews, performances and playlists by artists, curators etc.

Mega Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Part 3


Things are really starting to come together at Argentine developer Alan Faena’s new residential and arts district between 32nd and 36th Streets on Collins Avenue. By the time AB/MB rolls around, the Faena Hotel Miami Beach should be up and running, and construction is now complete on the Foster + Partners residential tower. The Faena Forum (above), designed by OMA Rem Koolhaas, should be open in April 2016. For Basel Miami 2015, they’ve planned a series of cool events including: A roller-disco installation by assume vivid astro focus that will be open to the public daily on the beach and feature local and international DJs; a “theater curtain” installation called “A Site To Behold” by Spanish artist Almudena Lober that lets visitors play alternate roles of “actor” and “performer”; and a site-specific “sand and light” installation by Jim Denevan.

The Perez Art Museum Miami (aka PAMM) — designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron — had it’s big debut in 2013 in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. On December 3rd, 2015, 9 p.m. to midnight, they’ll be premiering a collab performance by Devonte Hynes of Blood Orange and Ryan McNamara called “Dimensions” that includes elements of dance, music and sculpture. Also, during this open house for members and VIPs, you can check out their current exhibitions including Nari Ward’s “Sun Splashed,” Firelei Baez’ “Bloodlines,” and a show of Aboriginal Australian abstract painting.

Moishe Mana’s Mana Contemporary (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood plans several exhibitions during AB/MB including “Made in California,” featuring selections from L.A. collector Frederick R. Weisman’s Art Foundation; “A Sense of Place,” with over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Perez; and “Everything You Are Not,” key works of Latin American art from the Tiroche DeLeon collection. All are up from December 3rd thru the 6th, with a VIP preview on December 1st. Mana Urban Arts is also doing a collab with The Bushwick Collective at the former RC Cola Plant (550 NW 24th Street, Miami) that includes over 50 artists — so far the list includes Ghost, GIZ, Pixel Pancho, Case Maclaim and Shok-1 — plus skateboarding, DJs, live music etc.

Lots of music events and parties are starting to come in, including a show with Jamie xx and Four Tet on Friday, December 4th, in the Black Room at Mana Wynwood (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami), presented by III Points and Young Turks. Tickets are available HERE. At the same venue, Life & Death records presents Tale of Us, Mind Against, Thugfucker and “special guest” Richie Hawtin on December 3rd. Tickets are HERE. We also hear that Danny Howells will be spinning at Do Not Sit On The Furniture (423 16th Street, Miami Beach) on Saturday, December 5th; and Marco Carola and Stacey Pullen are at Story (136 Collins Avenue, South Beach) on Saturday, December 5th.

Photo via

Two young London-based artists, Walter & Zoniel, will set up a large, hand-built camera in the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from December 2nd to the 5th for a performance piece called “Alpha-Ation.” They’ll be creating exclusive, hand-colored portraits of “high-profile” figures all week and have already shot Lindsay Lohan and Tinie Tempah. The work is presented by the UK gallery Gazelli Art House. There’s also an invite-only reception with the artists at the Delano on Saturday night.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

AB/MB’s Conversations and Salon series brings together artists, curators, gallerists, historians, critics and collectors for 23 talks and panels all week. Jenny Holzer and Trevor Paglen kick things off on December 3rd, 10 to 11 a.m., in the Hall C auditorium. Other “conversations” include London’s Serpentine co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist on Friday morning and Genius Grant winner Nicole Eisenman on Sunday. In the Salon series, Obrist will also moderate a conversation between artist Alex Israel and author Bret Easton Ellis on “the evolution of the L.A. art scene.”

L.A. painter and installation artist Lisa Solberg will preview her latest project, “Mister Lee’s Shangri-La,” at Soho Beach House (4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) on Saturday, December 5th. The work — “an immersive exotic dance club sheltered inside a greenhouse” — will then be on view at MAMA Gallery (1242 Palmetto Street, Los Angeles) in L.A. as of December 19th.

Photo by Julian Mackler/

Adrien Brody isn’t just a great actor. He’ll be showing several of his paintings during AB/MB in a show called “Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Handguns” at Lulu Laboratorium (173 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood. The show was curated by Spanish-American artist Domingo Zapata and the big opening party starts at 10p.m. on December 2nd.

Calypso St. Barth Beach Boutique pops-up in the Soho Beach House (4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) all week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. They’ll also be hosting VIP events for artists including Jen Stark and Mira Dancy.

The National YoungArts Foundation‘s (2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) current show, “The Future Was Written,” features an interactive work by Daniel Arsham that asks visitors to use any of 2,000 chalk objects to draw on the gallery walls. On view until December 11th.

Chrome Hearts celebrates their new collaborators, Laduree and Sean Kelly Gallery, on December 2nd, 8 to 11 p.m., in the Chrome Hearts (4025 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) shop in the Design District with a private, VIP party featuring works by Sean Kelly artists including Marina Abramovic, Los Carpinteros, Jose Davila, Robert Mapplethorpe and many more. Also there’s a special performance by Abstrakto and DJ set from Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor.

The MoMA Design Store and online skate deck site, The Skateroom, will open a pop-up in the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from November 30th to December 6th. The “immersive installation” will sell limited-edition skateboard decks featuring Andy Warhol artworks including his Campbell’s Soup cans, Guns, Car Crash etc. A portion of the proceeds will go to Skateistan, a non-profit org that uses skateboarding to empower youth. The private VIP opening is December 2, 8 to 11 p.m.

Louis Vuitton (140 NE 39th Street, Miami) will be presenting “Objets Nomandes” — a new collection of foldable furniture and travel accessories — in their new store in the Design District during AB/MB, as of December 3rd. The pieces are collabs with international designers including the Campana Brothers, Maarten Baas and Nendo. You can also check out the world-exclusive unveiling of a lounge chair designed by Marcel Wanders.

ArtCenter/South Florida has an “off-site” installation called “D.O.A.” by the Israel-based artist Dina Shenhav over in Miami’s Little River District at 7252 NW Miami Court. Shenav will create a hunter’s cabin filled with “hunter” paraphernalia sculpted from yellow foam. Up from November 29th until the end of January.

Mega Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Part 4

Gary Pini

One of our fave AB/MB sectors, PUBLIC, just announced this year’s list of 26 artists who’ll be doing site-specific installations and performances all week in Collins Park. Several caught our eye: a jemstone-encrusted “Healing Pavilion” enhanced with “metaphysical properties” by Sam Falls; a group of tall chairs from the original production Robert Wilson’s “Einstein on the Beach;” a giant set of red lips by Sterling Ruby; and a monumental deer lawn ornament by Tony Tasset. Opening night is Wednesday, December 2nd, 7 to 9 p.m., and it features a female tai chi master, male bodybuilders, men on skateboards, a dandy hobo and an evening performance by Yan Xing.

Tony Tasset, Deer, 2015Photo cred. Kavi GuptaSCOPE returns to South Beach from December 2 to 6 (VIPs get in on the 1st) with 120 exhibitors from 22 countries, plus several special sections including Juxtapoz Presents, the Breeder Program for new galleries and FEATURE, showcasing photography. For a fourth year, the fair collabs with VH1 on a music series featuring up-and-coming artists. There’s also an invite-only party with recording artists Mack Wilds and Lil’ Dicky on Friday night at Nikki Beach, sponsored by SCOPE, VH1 and BMI.

As usual, there are lots of cool things happening at The Standard Miami (40 Island Avenue, South Beach) during the week including: The Standard X The Posters launch of their collab poster by Miami-based artist Jim Drain to celebrate the hotel’s 10th anniversary (available in the hotel’s gift shop), a VIP-only cocktail party hosted by Andre Saraiva, a book signing with Cheryl Dunn for her “Festivals Are Good,” a “chopped art” party with the Bruce High Quality Foundation and, of course, there’s the annual Lazy Sunday BBQ hosted this year by Creative Time on December 6th.

The design team of George Yabu & Glenn Pushelberg return to the BASEMENT nightclub in the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel (2901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) for an invite-only party with London’s Horse Meat Disco crew and special guest Giorgio Moroder on Thursday, December 3rd. They’re also hosting a private luncheon in the hotel’s Matador Room on Friday and launching a biannual “bookazine” called YP: Transformation, with the first issue available exclusively in the EDITION Hotel during AB/MB.

The EDITION also hosts pop-up exhibitions by NYC galleries in two of their fab bungalows: Half Gallery and HarperCollins Publishers will feature paintings by Daniel Heidkamp, an installation by Tom Sachs and book signings by Justin Adian, Sylvie Fleury and Sue Williamson; Salon 94 will have an installation by Jeremy Couillard.

JJeremy Couillard, Bowery Video Wall, 2014PULSE Miami Beach (4601 Collins Avenue, Indian Beach Park) just announced their 2015 series of special projects including: a neon installation by Texas artists Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming, a sculpture called “Trees” by Gordon Holden, a faux apartment building by Chris Jones, “Over and Under” by Francis Trombly and a small architectural piece inspired by Corbusier by New York artist Jim Osman. The fair’s PLAY section for video and new media will be curated by Stacy Engman.

Francis Trombly, Over and Under, 2015Bortolami Gallery is opening a year-long exhibition called “Miami” by the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren on December 1st in the M Building (194 NW 30th Street, Miami). The show marks the 50th anniversary of his works with fabric and the 8.7 cm stripe. By periodically installing new works, Buren will also alter the exhibition during the year.

Daniel BurenSpanish luxury fashion house LOEWE (110 NE 39th Street, Miami) opens a group show called “Close Encounters” on Wednesday, December 2nd, 6:30 to 9 p.m. The artists are Anthea Hamilton, Paul Nash, Lucie Rie and Rose Wylie; and the hosts for the evening are Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, with Don and Mira Rubell. Invite only.

Anthea Hamilton, Dance, 2012

Previewing their upcoming South Beach studio, SoulCycle will pop-up poolside at the 1 Hotel (2341 Collins Avenue, South Beach) starting on Tuesday, December 1st. They plan to open permanently in the hotel in January 2016.

Absolut Elyx, Sean Kelly Gallery, Paddle8 and Water For People celebrate WATER, “the most important drink in the world,” with a private charity auction and party at the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) on Thursday, December 3rd, 7 to 10 p.m. Look for a live performance by the Swedish singer Elliphant and a DJ set by Jasmine Solano.

ElliphantPhoto Cred. Corey OlsenRicardo Barroso and Eva Longoria celebrate the launch of “Ricardo Barroso Interiors” at Casa Tua (1700 James Avenue, South Beach) on December 3rd. The book includes 240 color photographs of his past and present work, with an accompanying text by Barroso and Fionn Petch and a foreword by Longoria. Invite only.

Ricardo BarrosoMolteni (4100 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) celebrates their 80th anniversary on December 3rd, 7 to 10 p.m., with a VIP soiree featuring “Amare Gio Ponti,” the first film about the legendary Italian architect and designer.
Libertine, one of the new clubs in downtown Miami’s 24-hour party district, hosts a release party for Nakid Magazine‘s latest issue and their cover artist Jen Stark on Friday night, December 4th. Stark recently collab’ed with Miley Cyrus on MTV’s VMA Awards and has a new installation at Miami International Airport.

Jen StarkCorona brings their “Electric Beach” to the Clevelander Hotel (1020 Ocean Drive, South Beach) on December 5th, 3 to 8 p.m., with a live performance by Chilean artist DASIC, and tons of music from Craze, Astronomar, Ape Drums and TJ Mizell.

DasicBrown Jordan and Sunbrella are getting together to showcase photographs by Gray Malin at a sneak-peek preview of Brown Jordan’s new store in the Design District. The invite-only opening is on Thursday, and the store should be open at the beginning of the new year. Some of the photos from the show will be on view there permanently and others are from Malin’s personal collection.

Gray Milan, A La Plage, 2012The Surf Lodge pops-up all week at The Hall South Beach Hotel (1500 Collins Avenue, South Beach) with a series of invite-only artist dinners, events and performances.

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles: Reviews of the Debut Show and the Architecture – Updated







NY Observer / Gallerist

The Soul of the New Broad Museum
The welcome for a new L.A. arts institution has been dimmed by personality and politics
By Alexandra Peers | 09/24/15 9:00am






In a city all about cars, it was striking that the streets were closed around Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles last weekend. It was all for the opening of America’s newest major art museum, the Broad Museum. Bill Clinton, who was the keynote speaker at the opening party, might’ve had something to do with the street closures, or perhaps his Secret Service detail did. But the bottom line is that a slice of one of the nation’s largest cities was cleared to make it easier for guests to cross the street from a museum to a glamorous dinner held under giant globes of golden light and scored by an orchestra of musicians in white tuxedos.

At that dinner, one of two held over two nights to handle the hundreds on the guest list, from Reese Witherspoon to Chrissie Hynde to Takashi Murakami, Bill Clinton gave museum founder and art collector Eli Broad a hearty hug and raved about his philanthropy. The former president dubbed the museum project “phenomenal,” and talked about knowing the Broads, Eli and wife Edythe, for 30 years. And he joked—to raucous laughter from a crowd of some of the more famous or well-connected people in the country—that both men had married up.

And there you have it: Much of the discussion and coverage, prior and post-September 20 opening of the new West Coast Contemporary arts institution, has centered around the issues of power and the influence of its founder, billionaire Eli Broad. Mr. Broad’s yellow-traffic-cone-wielding power in Los Angeles. Mr. Broad’s wallet power in the art market. Mr. Broad’s power in politics.
Eli Broad, Bill Clinton and Joanne Heyler attend The Broad Museum Opening Celebration at The Broad on September 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)

Eli Broad, Bill Clinton and Joanne Heyler attend The Broad Museum Opening Celebration at The Broad on September 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)

Yes, Mr. Broad, a Forbes 500-er who made his billions in the home-building and financial services industries, is indeed a powerful man. But the focus is misplaced: art always trumps. So, whatever the back story of how his $140 million eponymous museum came to be, if nothing else giving it entirely free of charge, and free of admission, to the people of Los Angeles buys him the right to have it looked at on its own merits.

Which, it turns out, are considerable.

On Grand Avenue, the Diller Scofidio and Renfro-designed white rectangle of honeycombed lattice looks like an Apple store with better products, which doesn’t sound like a compliment but is. There’s a lightness and technological modernity to it. The design is a savvy solution to the almost insurmountable problem that it is adjacent to Walt Disney Hall, a Frank Gehry masterpiece, which was always going to have it for lunch no matter what it tried to do, architecturally speaking.

Some critics have, ironically, accused the Broads of following art trends that frankly they themselves might’ve started. It’s like blaming the Pied Piper for the rats.

Inside, its lobby is a beautiful surprise: a deep slate gray with caverns and a very steep long escalator that disappears into the ceiling, or heaven—for a minute when you enter you are not sure which. In the stairwell there are rare and nifty glimpses into storage of the hundreds of works not on view, a feature unique to this art institution. Light streams in unexpected spots through a transparent webbing. In the Broad’s main third floor gallery, it has a few too many of the big white walls we’ve come to expect, and be utterly bored by, in Contemporary art museums, but perhaps that will evolve.

The museum will showcase, on a rotating basis, highlights from Eli and Edythe Broad’s over 2,000-artwork collection, virtually all of the works on display dating from the 1960s or later. These include some jaw-droppers from Joseph Beuys, Sam Francis, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein (a roomful), all the way up to recent art from Kara Walker and Neo Rauch. The Broads collect artists in depth, so there’s a real immersion here, not just a fast flip through an art history text, one of the things that really sets it apart. (That depth showcases the work of Mr. Murakami to particularly fine effect.) And there is a Jasper Johns flag that is particularly moving and beautiful.

In the Broad Museum, two must-see pieces are given their own spaces, deservedly so: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room (the Souls of Millions of Light Years Away) and The Visitors, a nine-screen video art installation by Iceland artist Ragnar Kjartansson, which features nine musicians playing a piece of music simultaneously, but scattered in various rooms of a decaying mansion.

The mega-collectors’ considerable trove had been expected to go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and there are those still smarting that it did not. Certainly that emblematic Johns flag may have belonged in a national, public collection. And curators always grouse loudly that every wealthy collector thinks he can run a museum. That cliché may be true, but it’s also sour grapes.

At least the Broad Museum’s location, next to Disney Hall and across from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the city’s existing Museum of Contemporary Art (currently showing a fine Matthew Barney film and sculpture exhibition, River of Fundament) creates something of a needed critical mass of culture in the very spread-out city.
A still from Ragnar Kjartansson’s film The Visitors. (Photo: © Ragnar Kjartansson/Courtesy The Broad Museum)

A still from Ragnar Kjartansson’s film The Visitors. (Photo: © Ragnar Kjartansson/Courtesy The Broad Museum)

Some of the criticism of the museum has centered on the fact that it is a snapshot of much of the art market right now, that it codifies, even anoints, a list of exactly who you would have expected to see. That, for a personal museum, it isn’t personal or idiosyncratic enough. It’s true: You will find these artists in a lot of collections and, more to the point, in a lot of auction catalogs. But that ironically accuses the Broads of following trends that frankly they themselves might’ve started. It’s like blaming the Pied Piper for the rats.

Consider Jeff Koons. They bought his work really early, in-depth and courageously, given the amount of eye rolling their fanaticism was met with. Love him or hate him, Mr. Koons is in those art history books now. And there’s a moment in the new Broad where you can look from an iconic 1970s felt suit by Joseph Beuys to see Mr. Koons’ famous stainless steel bunny and suddenly see each of them in new ways.

Mission accomplished, Mr. Broad.






The Art World September 28, 2015 Issue
Going Downtown
Eli Broad opens his own museum in Los Angeles.
By Peter Schjeldahl


Works by Jeff Koons and Christopher Wool on the third floor, where the lighting—natural and artificial—adjusts automatically. Credit Courtesy Bruce Damonte / The Broad / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad, it’s called: a snazzy new museum of excellent contemporary art, which just opened in downtown Los Angeles, right across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art. If that sounds redundant, consider that, a few miles away, on Wilshire Boulevard, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art also features a contemporary collection, as does, a bit farther west, the Hammer Museum. Besides being no more than fifty years old, all these institutions—along with the wondrous Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, which stands next door to the Broad—have in common histories of the patronage and the aggressive, sometimes resented, influence of the billionaire philanthropist and collector Eli Broad.

Few individuals whose surnames aren’t Medici have had such dramatic effect on the art culture of an important city. The new museum crowns a particular passion of Broad’s: to create a cultural center for Los Angeles along a stretch of Grand Avenue, which also boasts the Music Center—home to the Disney hall and three other venues—and the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. The words “Los Angeles” and “center” consort oddly, especially since the city’s ever more apocalyptic traffic further dulls the local citizens’ never ardent yen to venture out of their usual ways. Nor does Grand Avenue feel like anybody’s idea of an agora. There are busy Latino and Asian neighborhoods nearby, but, after hours, you don’t encounter many people in the spottily gentrified downtown area (and a considerable number of those you do are homeless). At any time on the avenue, even cars are relatively sparse. Yet the dream of culture-craving throngs persists. The Broad offers free admission. Synergistically, moca has eased tense relations with its chief patron to grant free yearlong memberships to all who visit the Broad during the first two weeks. (Broad bailed out the foundering institution in 2008, but the director he selected departed under a cloud of acrimony, two years ago.)

The museum is well worth a visit now and periodic revisits later, as its exhibits cycle through a collection of some two thousand works by about two hundred artists. Around two hundred and fifty pieces are currently on display. Whomever Broad and his wife, Edythe, collect, they collect in depth. The show’s roughly chronological arrangement incorporates several rooms devoted to single artists, like pocket retrospectives. The building, by the New York firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, plays changes on a theme that the architects call “the veil and the vault”—masking what amounts to a storage facility for the collection. The façade is a slewed honeycomb of concrete modules: slitlike holes set in diagonal channels, which suggest the tidy claw marks of a very large cat. The building’s capacity to impress is muted by the material Ninth Symphony of the Gehry concert hall, but it’s pleasant enough.

You enter through a dim lobby with dark-gray, Surrealistically curved walls and ceiling. The lobby leads to shapely ground-floor galleries and offers the choice of a cylindrical glass elevator or a hundred-and-five-foot escalator—low-impact thrill rides—to the vast, columnless third floor, which is beautifully illuminated by automatically adjusted blends of natural and artificial light. The interior walls stop short of the skylight-riddled ceiling, conveying a temporary and flexible character. The vault portion of the building occupies the second floor. You catch sight of it through glass walls when you descend a hushed, snaking, umbilical-like stairwell: a cavernous space of racks and equipment, yielding glimpses of art works at rest between shows. It’s a nice touch, like a backstage pass at the opera.
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The third floor of the Broad.
Courtesy Iwan Baan / The Broad / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Broad, now eighty-two, and Edythe arrived in L.A. in 1963, from their home town of Detroit. The son of a union organizer who came to own dime stores, Broad started a home-building firm that ascended to the Fortune 500, as did a subsequent startup in financial services. (A how-to-succeed memoir, published in 2012, shares his secret in its title, “The Art of Being Unreasonable.” His friend Michael Bloomberg wrote the introduction.) Edythe introduced him to art, hesitantly. She wanted an Andy Warhol soup-can print, but worried that her husband would be appalled by the price: a hundred dollars. (They later parted with $11.7 million for a soup-can painting.) In 1972, they bought a van Gogh drawing, but Broad tired of it and arranged a swap for a rugged early painting by Robert Rauschenberg. The couple’s taste gravitated to Pop art—they own thirty-four works by Roy Lichtenstein—and to socially conscious, left-liberal sensibilities. (“I’m not as liberal as I used to be,” Broad told me, when I spoke with him at the museum, but he remains a Democrat.) He is rare among collectors in possessing abundant terrific works by the late Leon Golub, a painter of white-mercenary criminality in developing-world locales. The museum’s inaugural show presents a large charcoal drawing, by Robert Longo, from a photograph taken last year in Ferguson, Missouri, in which police advance, at night, in a fog of tear gas.

Once committed to collecting, the Broads anchored their holdings with canonical works by Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Ellsworth Kelly. Twombly and Kelly aside—and excepting a more recent fondness for Albert Oehlen and Mark Grotjahn—they shied from abstraction, and skated lightly over Conceptualist art of the nineteen-seventies. In the eighties, the Broads went in big for neo-expressionist and Pictures Generation artists, notably Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cindy Sherman. (They own a hundred and twenty-four pictures by Sherman.) The German artists Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz, and Thomas Struth are also strongly represented, and recent New York stars in the collection include Christopher Wool, John Currin, Glenn Ligon, and Kara Walker. But, with the prominent exceptions of Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Chris Burden, Charles Ray, Robert Therrien, and Lari Pittman, the Broads have braved local exasperation by not going out of their way to boost L.A. artists.

There’s not much installation art on view, but there is one gem: “The Visitors” (2012), by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. The piece consists of nine gorgeous, hour-long video projections, placed at odd angles in a dark room, of as many musicians, sitting in separate rooms in a dilapidated mansion, and noodling with a love song. The exquisiteness of sight and sound and the pathos of the musicians’ shared loneliness brought tears to my eyes when I first saw the piece, at the Luhring Augustine Gallery, two years ago. Would that happen again, during a note-taking tour of a jam-packed museum? It did.

Broad’s favorite contemporary artist seems to be Jeff Koons, whose works he owns in profusion—from encased vacuum cleaners, floating basketballs, and a stainless-steel inflated bunny to a huge, color-tinted, stainless-steel rendering of tulips and the inevitable balloon dog. Broad came to Koons’s rescue in the nineties, at a tough time—financially and personally—for the artist, and paid a million dollars for several future works that he waited years to receive. He calls Koons’s output “bold and theatrical,” words that could well be engraved on a cornerstone of the museum; Broad adores punch. The sometimes bitterly voiced controversies that surround Koons seem to concern him not at all. It’s in Broad’s nature, when crossed or confronted, to plow forward with undeterred aplomb. He appears immune to grudges, seldom keeping for long the enemies he can’t help but make. (A history of scraps with Frank Gehry, in particular, has not obviated expressions, at least in public, of amity on both sides.) Koons’s sunny disposition and shame-free panache suit Broad, as does his work’s insouciant symbolizing of oligarchic noblesse oblige. Why would anyone gainsay immense wealth when looking at the delightful things that may be done with it? ♦



Last night, about the same time that Marc Jacobs’s show brought a Hollywood premiere to midtown Manhattan, the Broad’s opening night gala hosted the New York art world in downtown Los Angeles. After a week that saw MOCA celebrate Matthew Barney’s “River of Fundament” and Gagosian debut new work by Urs Fischer, the city was primed to welcome its newest cultural landmark.

Upon arriving—and after first taking in Rachel Feinstein, characteristically dazzling in Gucci—it was impossible to ignore that seemingly every major New York institution was represented at the inauguration of Grand Avenue’s new crown jewel: There was Ann Temkin from MoMA, the Met’s Sheena Wagstaff, the Guggenheim’s Ari Wiseman, New Museum director Lisa Phillips, Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Whitney director Adam Weinberg, and Dia’s new director Jessica Morgan. Anyone who thought a personally funded operation couldn’t be taken seriously in the museum ecosystem has never met Eli Broad.

The Diller Scofidio + Renfro building—to my eye, a stonework riff on the National Aquatics Center from the Beijing Olympics—is now home to nearly 2,000 works from Eli and Edythe Broad’s encyclopedic collection of blue-chip contemporary art. It’s hard not to see the space as a resplendent trophy room, the proud product of decades of big-game collecting. One enters via an escalator that passes through an organic-shaped concrete tube (the best guess for its inspiration might be an elephant trunk) that opens into a white-walled warehouse that has a number of Christopher Wool word paintings and a rainbow Jeff Koons balloon. Not impressed? There are cavernous galleries devoted to artists like Takashi Murakami and (you guessed it) Koons, making each room feel like a mini retrospective, complemented last night by the artists themselves. There is a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, which of course had a queue to enter even on opening night. Still nonplussed? There are also quieter moments at The Broad, like a gallery dedicated to Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors—a nine-channel video that felt persuasive and intimate, even in black tie.

After a tour of the museum, last night’s guests traversed Grand Avenue, which had been shut down and covered in a red carpet, for a dinner accompanied by the L.A. Philharmonic, who played the theme songs to The Godfather and Titanic, in case anyone had forgotten which coast they were on. After all, The Broad is, if nothing else, really about L.A. When it opens to the public on Sunday, The Broad will be free of charge, making it feel like a genuinely generous addition to the city. In that regard, at least, it’s the ne plus ultra.


Unveiled: The Broad art museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro opens

After years of hype, development and anticipation, philanthropist Eli Broad’s contemporary art museum, The Broad, is finally opening this weekend on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. The 120,00 square foot, $140 million project, designed by New York architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, contains almost 2,000 of Broad’s contemporary art pieces as well as storage, conservation facilities, offices, an auditorium, and an adjacent restaurant and park.

It’s arguably the most significant new building – both culturally and architecturally – in the city since its neighbour, Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall, opened in 2003. And in many ways, the Broad is a direct response to Disney’s riotous, gleaming form. How could a new edifice try to out-Gehry Gehry? Instead it’s a very different, eroded structure, covered by a ‘veil’ of tapered, honeycomb-shaped fiberglass reinforced concrete panels. That form – and pretty much everything else about the building – wraps around its heart, known as the ‘vault’, which contains storage for the prodigious collection behind heavy concrete walls. DSR Project Director Kevin Rice calls the vault the ‘protagonist’ of the design, despite the fact that the veil gets all the attention.

On the underside of the vault is the lobby, a carved out, (relatively) dimly lit first floor space with smooth, cool walls evocative of a cave. Its organic shape was concieved to contrast with the rigid, computer-produced uniformity of the veil. ‘Throwing you off your expectations with its organic form is the perfect way to transition from the street to taking in the art itself,’ says Joanne Heyler, Director of the Broad Art Foundation. The entrance level also contains simple but spacious galleries – in most museums their 18-foot height would be formidable – for temporary exhibitions.

The third floor contains the building’s highlight: the 35,000 square foot, 23-foot-tall gallery space, glowing with rhythmic, controlled natural light from huge scooped and angled skylights, and from repeated cuts in the veil. The dinosaur-like scale of the skylights, and the lack of any columns – thanks to giant steel girders hidden above – has a mesmerizing impact, especially coming from the darker, more compressed spaces below. ‘I’m incredibly pleased with how the collection lives under the diffuse light,’ says Heyler.

Connecting varied spaces through dramatic transition is a particular specialty of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and they follow through deftly here, creating moments like the veil lifting up to welcome visitors at ground level, the tube-like escalator (and magical glass cylinder elevator) cutting through the bulk of the vault to the main galleries, and the voyeur-like peeks into the vault along the winding stairs back down. ‘We like to think of our projects as cinematic,’ said DSR principal Charles Renfro. ‘There’s a kind of narrative unfolding. There’s foreshadowing. There are glimpses ahead. Things get stitched together to form a complete experience.’ Rice adds, ‘It’s not a secret we always wanted to be filmmakers.’

The pierced solidity of the veil excels inside, where slivers of glowing light create a radiating, mysterious effect. The striking exterior is also lightened by the fact that (thanks to what Rice calls an “epic” second floor cantilever) it only touches the ground once on Grand Avenue. In the upper gallery, the necessary measure of dividing art through temporary walls breaks up what is a glorious space, perhaps minimizing its potential. The dividing walls are still a few feet from the ceiling, connecting you to the whole.

But in all this is a spectacular addition the city; a dynamic, fluid, and cohesive, if not radical, monument to L.A.’s quickly ascending place in the cultural universe. While it won’t singlehandedly mend the scorched earth urbanism of Bunker Hill, it has already infused an already white-hot downtown Los Angeles with more energy, clout, and, of course, attention.

We have explored the brand new Broad in a bespoke photoshoot in our October 2015 issue, where Liz Diller, of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is one of our two esteemed Guest Editors. In the issue you can also find Diller’s conversation with graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, where she reflects on the practice’s significant body of work and, of course, the Broad.




The New Broad Museum Brings LA Lots of Blue-Chip Art and a Few Surprises

The Broad Museum (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES — The wait is over. After a 15-month delay, ballooning costs, and lawsuits, the Broad Museum is finally set to open this Sunday in downtown Los Angeles. The new 120,000 square foot institution houses the postwar and contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad. For the past four decades, the couple has had an outsized influence on the cultural life of LA. Eli Broad was a founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in 1979; he lent his financial support to the Hammer Museum in the 1990s; he was responsible for the Broad Contemporary Art Museum pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the 2000s; and bailed out MOCA when it was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2008. Some of these relationships eventually soured, ending in controversy, such as his decision to simply loan his works to LACMA, not donate them, as was widely assumed. It was not a huge surprise then, when he announced in 2008 that he would be building his own museum, one where he presumably wouldn’t have to deal with competing institutional interests.

Broad Founding Director Joanne Heyler, Eli and Edythe Broad, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and architect Elizabeth Diller

Yesterday’s press event was packed with arts writers, TV crews, and radio personalities, all waiting to get our first glimpse inside of the building, finally filled with art. We’ve been watching the progress of the building — adventurously designed by architecture firm Diller, Scofidio + Renfro — for the past few years, but only a few select critics had seen the collection installed. The street in front of the museum was shut down for the event. Free of cars — a rarity in LA — Grand Avenue had an odd post-apocalyptic feel. We gathered under the beaming LA sun, in front of the building’s porous white façade — the “veil” as it’s called — to hear opening remarks from philanthropists Eli and Edythe, the Broad Founding Director Joanne Heyler, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and architect Elizabeth Diller.

Garcetti hailed the Broad as further proof that LA had arrived as a major art capital on the level of — or even surpassing — New York. Diller spoke about the museum’s design, and the challenges inherent in working in the shadow of Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall just across the street. “We realized that we couldn’t compete, so we opted for a relationship of contrast to our neighbor: porous and matte next to smooth and shiny. We brought our exuberant curves inside the building.” She joked about Broad’s notoriously controlling manner. “Thank for you participating so closely in the process, Eli. Maybe too closely. We were duly warned.” Then, after a series of photo ops, we were mercifully allowed out of the sun and into the cool, grey, undulating interior of the Broad’s lobby, like kids in an art candy store.

Robert Therrien, "No Title" (1993), ceramic epoxy on fiberglass, 94 x 60 x 60 in.

Until now, most of the attention has been on the building’s design. Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “vault and the veil” concept puts the Broad’s entire 2,000 piece collection (minus Charles Ray’s “Firetruck”) into a 21,000 square foot storage facility in the building’s core. Around this “vault” on the second floor, there are 50,000 square feet of exhibition space on the first and third floor. Impressive engineering allows the top floor exhibition space to be virtually unencumbered by support beams or walls. Two windows in the stairwell allow visitors to peer into the vault giving the impression of transparency. There is something to be said for the thrill of being able to glimpse behind the curtain, but it’s unclear if this will translate to a greater institutional transparency or if it’s just a cool gimmick.

Window into the vault.

The museum’s exterior, the “veil,” is a honeycombed, perforated shell that wraps around the building, allowing natural light to filter into the exhibition spaces, and reinforcing a connection to the street outside. This was one of the costliest and most problematic elements of construction, and it has also been the butt of jokes likening the building to a cheese grater among other things.


A break in the façade, dubbed the oculus, behind which sits a conference room, have inspired comparisons to the Death Star with Broad sitting in as the Emperor. It’s an intriguing design overall, but $140 million seems like a steep price tag for intrigue.

Works by Jeff Koons.

But what about the art? The Broad Collection has received some criticism for lacking a consistent vision, or for being dated, or for being too trendy. It is after all, a subjective collection reflecting the tastes of only two individuals. It would be surprising if it wasn’t uneven. After reading more than a few articles about Broad’s passion for Koons (he owns 34), I expected to see mostly flashy, blockbuster artworks — perfect for our current moment of inflation and speculation — and while there are quite a few of those, that’s not the whole story.

Works by Julie Mehretu, Christopher Wool, and Jeff Koons.

After riding the long escalator from the dim lobby, and emerging in the sun-drenched third floor galleries, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by stunning works by Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu, and El Anatsui, giving a prominent place to works by female artists, queer artists, and artists of color. Sure, Koons and Christopher Wool held down the opposite side of the room as if to say, “Not so fast!” but it was at least a step in the right direction. The rest of the collection swayed between these two poles: the strain of glossy, slick Pop of which Koons is the current reigning champ, and more socially-oriented work, often created by groups traditionally under-represented in the art world, like women and people of color. The Broad’s director Joanne Heyler said as much when she told me: “I like the idea that a museum in the complex world that we live in is filled with many types of art. One important part is artists who still feel strongly that painful, difficult things in our social condition today need to be addressed.”

Works by Andy Warhol.

The spacious top floor is the historic basis of the collection, featuring work from the past sixty years. It is not a comprehensive overview, but tells a specific story based on the Broad’s interest. Canonical artists like Warhol, Twombly, Johns ,and Rauschenberg are well represented. Significantly, so are LA artists like Mike Kelley, John Baldessari, Charles Ray, Chris Burden, and Ed Ruscha. There are crowd pleasers like Damien Hirst, but also Kara Walker cut-outs and in-your-face Barbara Kruger works.

Kara Walker.

German artists Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys have a room, as do Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and John Ahearn — New York artists who epitomized an earlier boom time. Something almost all of the works have in common is their formidable size, which was surely a major consideration when designing the building. Smaller works would most certainly be dwarfed by the architecture.

Taskashi Murakami room.

The first floor is dedicated to works from the past fifteen years, and will hold thematic exhibitions. This section is more uneven, though the possibility of shows with a curatorial intent other that highlighting the collection is promising. The Takashi Murakami room here resembles a garish theme park, whereas Ragnar Kjartansson’s 9-screen video piece “The Visitors” provides a pensive and touching alternative. Combining the blockbuster with the meditative is Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Room,” which can fill even the most jaded art goers with awe.

Ragnar Kjartansson, "The Visitors" (2012), nine channel HD video projection

The Broad isn’t the one museum that’s going to save LA, or make the world respect us as an art capital. It reflects the tastes of two collectors, which as Holland Cotter noted in the New York Times, is actually a throwback to the previous century’s great museums founded by the likes of Morgan and Frick. Admission to the Broad will be free, allowing a larger section of the population the ability to experience contemporary art, something that many more ostensibly “democratic” museums do not offer. It is true that the collection may be uneven, but perhaps it makes sense to think of the Broad, as William Poundstone suggests, as simply one more part of the messy and diffuse cultural landscape that is LA.

Jeff Wall and Charles Ray.

Damien Hirst and Andreas Gursky

John Baldessari and Cady Noland.

Works by Keith Haring, John Ahearn, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Mike Kelley

Assitant Curator Ed Schad discussing Cy Twombly's work.

Robert Longo, Jeff Koons, Peter Halley

El Anatsui, "Red Block" (2010), found aluminum and copper wire, 200 3/4 x 131 1/2 in.

Mark Bradford, "Corner of Desire and Piety" (2008), 72 collages: acrylic gel medium, cardboard paper, caulking, silkscreen ink, acrylic paint, and additional mixed media, 135 3/4 x 344 1/4 in.

Goshka Macuga, "Death of Marxism, Women of All Lands Unite" (2013), wool tapestry, 220 x 113 5/8 in.


The Broad Museum offers free but timed tickets, which are available on their website. The Museum officially opens to the public on Saturday, September 19, 2015.



Works by Takashi Murakami on display at the Broad museum in Los Angeles, which opens on Sept. 20. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Traditional art museums are some of the most conservative and controlling institutions on earth. They are built as vaults to preserve the past, and as monuments to edited histories. In the Gilded Age America of a century or so ago, many new museums were also monuments to private collectors — Henry Clay Frick, J. P. Morgan, Isabella Stewart Gardner — who strove to shape and fix an image that history would have of them, as enlightened power brokers of their day and benefactors to the future.

In our present Gilded Age, private collection museums are again proliferating, but with a difference. Most are devoted to new art, art without a past. The stories they tell are not yet history, but exist in a state of flux. The very definition of collecting, in a time of speculative buying, is now up for grabs. Shouldn’t these changes radically alter the old museum model, loosen it up, make it more experimental, shift its identity from locked treasure house to clearinghouse for fresh ideas?

These questions arise as one of the most eagerly anticipated private museums of contemporary art in the country approaches its opening here next week.


The Broad is housed in a new $140 million building. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Called The Broad (pronounced brode) and housed in a $140 million, three-story building by Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, it enshrines the collection of some 2,000 works owned by Eli and Edythe Broad, two of this city’s leading philanthropists.

Mr. Broad, a billionaire who made his fortune in home building, has arguably had more impact shaping this city’s cultural identity than anyone else in recent times. For nearly 50 years, he and his wife have been among the country’s most assiduous contemporary collectors. They began picking up work by hot young artists — Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman — in Manhattan in the early 1980s, later filling in historical blanks and doing some buying in their own California backyard.

The inaugural display is clearly intended to show the collection in representative form, and does. The museum’s founding director and chief curator, Joanne Heyler, has installed some 200 works more or less chronologically on the building’s skylighted third floor, beginning with a clutch of classic pieces by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. Mr. Johns’s 1964 “Watchman” is a star; a blood-red Rauschenberg abstraction from a decade earlier is less familiar, but the Broads cashed in a Van Gogh drawing to acquire it.

“Tulips” by Jeff Koons, a favorite artist of the philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, is among the works included in their museum’s inaugural display. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Andy Warhol, whose Campbell’s Soup Can pictures Ms. Broad first saw (but didn’t buy) as early as the 1960s, has a small gallery of his own; Roy Lichtenstein has a larger one. He is a Broad favorite; they own 34 pieces (there are 10 here), as is his successor in formally polished Pop, Jeff Koons, of whose works the Broads have the greatest number in private hands. Is this something to brag about? An argument can be made that Mr. Koons’s work usefully casts a cold eye on an American, and now global, addiction to bright, empty, throwaway things. But what happens when a presumably critical art is indistinguishable from its target, or is not critical after all? Then chances are good it’s headed for history’s scrap heap, eventually if not now.

Speaking of critical commentary, in an inspired compare-and-contrast move, Ms. Heyler has inserted a 1995 panoramic city painting by the Los Angeles artist Lari Pittman into the Koons gallery. Mr. Pittman’s work, too, comes out of a Pop corner and is formally airtight. It’s also conceptually razor-sharp. It deals with all the American subjects Mr. Koons does — sex, religion, celebrity, death — but with a focus and bite that he lacks.

Lari Pittman, “Like You.” Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The concentration of Los Angeles art is the most interesting aspect of the inaugural show, at least for this East Coast viewer. Ed Ruscha’s laconically meticulous word paintings and John Baldessari’s recycled film images may fit the collection’s clean-lined Pop proclivities, while the acidic zaniness of Mike Kelley’s work does not, but the Broads bought plenty of it over the years. I’m always glad to see it, and I’m even gladder to encounter things I’ve never seen, like the sculpture called “Bateau de Guerre” by the apocalypse-minded Chris Burden, who died in May. A whirring, blinking death star made of gas cans and toy guns, it wasn’t in the recent Burden retrospective that came to New York.


Chris Burden’s  “Bateaux de Guerre.” Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

I wish there were more things like it here, under-known, offbeat, less than neat. And there could be. With a reported $200- million-plus endowment and additional funds for acquisitions — nearly that of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art combined — the Broad will be doing a lot more buying. And it would be good if this museum started to stray from the blue-chip-masterpiece path that winds its way from Mr. Koons on the third floor to a gallery on the first floor of big, bland, abstract pictures by Mark Grotjahn and Christopher Wool, artists who, because they cover walls with work that is indisputably “art,” have become universal collection staples.

Their presence here makes the Broad feel ordinary, old-school, predictable. A tight, unadventurous building design doesn’t help. The exterior, with its sheets of perforated, biomorphic white cladding — the color and texture of gefilte fish — is eye-filling but unmagical, though there are nice touches inside. The cavernlike lobby sets up a mood of mystery. The third floor skylights are a pleasure, as are occasional breaks in the white-box gallery walls that give glimpses onto the street.

Robert Therrien’s “No Title,” a 1993 ceramic epoxy on fiberglass piece, adorns the front entrance. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The street is Grand Avenue, which Mr. Broad, in consultation with the city government, has long planned to develop into a downtown cultural district. The Broad is part of that plan. So is the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall next door to it, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, which Mr. Broad helped found and has generously supported, directly across the street. In a stretched-out, traffic-clogged city it takes a long time to travel anywhere. You need a good reason to go where you’re going. By offering free admission, Mr. Broad intends his museum to be a popular destination.

It surely will be while it’s new, and in the news, and could continue to be. The Broads have always viewed their holdings as a public asset that they make accessible through an active institutional loan program. They refer to their holdings as a lending library, with items regularly leaving for other museums and returning. This traffic flow, enhanced by the arrival of new acquisitions, should encourage people to make repeat visits, knowing they are likely to see new things each time.

But even with this mechanism for flexibility, the Broad is a museum of an old-fashioned kind. It’s been built to preserve a private collection conceived on a masterpiece ideal and consisting almost entirely of distinctive objects: paintings and sculptures; precious things. Apart from most of the objects being new, or at least not old, the Broad could have existed, pretty much as is, a century ago.


John Ahearn’s “Raymond and Toby,” flanked by Keith Haring paintings. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

But, of course, art itself has changed. It is no longer only about things, hasn’t been for decades. Since the great surge of dematerialization introduced by conceptualism in the 1960s, art has been about, among other things, ideas, actions, sounds, performance, networks, communication. The Broad will have to catch up with this alternative history, a history that the audience it wants to attract and hold already knows. What better way to do so than through collaboration with an institution that has a stake in exploring the same history, meaning, of course, the Museum of Contemporary Art across the street.

The two could share, to their mutual benefit, space, expertise and personnel. What they already share is a tough time for museums and a history with Mr. Broad, who, over a tireless half-century, has done wonders for art in this city, and, with the opening of his museum, is about to do more.

Correction: September 13, 2015
A Sept. 13 print version of this review included an incorrect byline in some editions. It is by Holland Cotter, not Bernard Holland.

Review: An early look in the Broad museum reveals a show that doesn’t quite gel


Entertainment Broad Museum Jackson Pollock Walt Disney Concert Hall Julian Schnabel Los Angeles County Museum of Art Eli Broad

An early look in the Broad museum reveals a show that doesn’t quite gel
Christopher Knight
Los Angeles Times

A view of works by Roy Lichtenstein inside the Broad museum. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein)

The city’s urban culture gulch is on the brink of opening a major new art museum — L.A.’s seventh — as the Broad finishes preparations for its Sept. 20 debut downtown.

The flashy new building stands next to Walt Disney Concert Hall and REDCAT and across Grand Avenue from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Colburn School. The latest project of billionaire philanthropists and art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, it launches with a 50,000-square-foot exhibition drawn exclusively from its wide-ranging permanent collection.


Unfortunately the show doesn’t gel, although many works are superlative. Roughly 250 pieces by about 60 artists have been chosen from around 2,000 possibilities by nearly 200 artists.
The Broad
Caption The Broad
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / © Cy Twombly

Installation view of Cy Twombly works.
The Broad
Caption The Broad
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times and © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / ARS, NY

A space for Andy Warhol works.

Any curator will tell you that it takes time to learn a new building’s personality quirks — to figure out how best to configure temporary walls, take advantage of sight lines that let art pull a visitor through the galleries and calibrate an installation so that objects visually speak to one another. The Broad’s inaugural installation began only in June. That’s quick.

Three visits over that relatively brief period revealed a work in evolutionary progress, with many changes along the way. Some may yet come before doors open to a curious public next week.

The museum bills the exhibition as “a sweeping, chronological journey” through the collection. But, in addition to feeling random (why this artist and not that one?), much of the best work has been seen before. Two large Broad exhibitions — in 2001 and 2008 — were held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, so this opening has a lot of déjà vu.

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The strongest feature is the collection’s depth in the representation of individual artists, especially Pop-related. When the couple commit to acquiring an artist’s work, usually they collect in depth — a practice surely inspired by the example of Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza di Biumo, the great Italian collectors of postwar American art whose collection is an anchor at MOCA.

Few museums have the resources to acquire, say, two dozen Jeff Koons sculptures, as the Broad has. (The inaugural features eight — plus one dreadful painting, a medium for which he has no talent.) Several bountiful single-artist rooms make you linger longer.
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Among Andy Warhol’s 11 paintings is a 1962 “Dance Diagram” correctly displayed on the floor, not hanging on a wall. (It’s meant to send up Jackson Pollock, who dripped paint while dancing around a canvas unfurled on the floor.) Roy Lichtenstein’s 10 Pop paintings provide a stunning survey of his 1960s breakthrough, giving mass-media makeovers to Impressionist, Fauve, Cubist and other historic paintings.

Just four Ellsworth Kelly paintings fill another room, but their seamless fusion of bold geometric shapes, crisp composition and saturated colors grabs you by the lapels. Among them is one from a breakout 1963 series, a masterpiece acquired two years ago.

A vivid green rectangle and a bright blue oval are surrounded by a crimson field. All calmly share the same flat plane, perfectly balanced in scale and chromatic intensity, yet straining to burst their optical bonds. Kelly makes poise look easy.

NYT Holand Cotter liked what he saw. I will go with that and plan to visit in October when I arrive LA from Boston.
at 2:56 PM September 13, 2015

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Closer to the present, five paintings and sculptures by Takashi Murakami push the collection’s Pop art focus forward in time. Murakami’s creepy cartoon cheerfulness about a Japanese society riven by post-atomic tensions takes a monumental turn in a new, 82-foot-long mural.

“In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” conjures a mythic narrative inspired by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that tore open the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Great waves of storm-tossed sea monsters cavort around a grim mountain of skulls — a landscape of elegant, stylishly sophisticated awfulness.

Writer Pico Iyer wryly observes in the 8-pound, 2-inch-thick collection catalog published to coincide with the show that wartime emperor Hirohito was buried with the Mickey Mouse wristwatch he snagged on a 1975 trip to Disneyland. Murakami’s art unpeels the perpetual violation of innocence that characterizes modern Japan.
The Broad museum
Caption The Broad museum
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

The Broad, a $140-million museum of modern and contemporary art, is set to open Sept. 20 on Grand Avenue.
The Broad museum
Caption The Broad museum
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad museum and its eye-catching honeycomb facade, dubbed “the veil.”

Perhaps the most viscerally gorgeous room is Cy Twombly’s, with seven lush paintings and three ghostly sculptures. A difficult artist, especially for audiences of the “My Child Could Do That” school of fusty art criticism, Twombly’s paintings mix drawing and writing. The aim is to free them from established strictures of earth-bound depiction.

It’s no mean feat. An epic array of unruly lines unfolds — tightly crabbed scratches, abstract penmanship and luxurious, billowing slathers. Marks lodge inside or sometimes bleed through translucent layers of paint, bursting through the pentimento into enormous floral thunderclouds. Twombly’s art is like an insistent echo of forgotten graffiti, murmuring from ancient walls.

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I wish the exhibition continued on this way, with only monographic rooms. A core collecting philosophy for nearly 40 years would take center stage.

Instead, except for rooms for John Currin and Glenn Ligon, the show mostly flips into conventional mode. Packaged art movements popular in New York in the late 1970s and after are chronicled. Blandness settles in.

Galleries advance the image-scavenging of appropriation art, such as Richard Prince’s sly painting of an old barroom joke and Sherrie Levine’s cast-bronze copy of a Marcel Duchamp urinal. Neo-Expressionism includes the smashed crockery of Julian Schnabel and the psycho-sexual unease of Eric Fischl’s suburbia, both rejecting Minimal and Conceptual coolness and returning to easel painting. In graffiti art, socially marginalized artists like African American whiz-kid Jean-Michel Basquiat and gay activist Keith Haring invade the patrician canvas with the street’s rough-and-tumble.

A choppy, incomplete history is told with too many works juxtaposed in spaces too confined. Many individual works are fine but together feel jumbled and thin.

One feature gives me the willies. It concerns conservation of fragile art. The show is peppered with works on paper, photographic and painted, which should be kept from sunlight but aren’t.

It’s divided between a first-floor suite of rooms, which in the future will house temporary and traveling shows, and a wide-open third-floor space, topped by a dramatic ceiling. A 35,000-square-foot honeycomb of fixed skylights faces north, bringing in flat, cool, filtered natural light.
How Edye Broad’s ‘natural eye’ drew her billionaire husband into the art world
How Edye Broad’s ‘natural eye’ drew her billionaire husband into the art world

Display cases for 16 of Cindy Sherman’s great “Untitled Film Stills,” which ooze all-American anxiety, have the photos lying flat and facing up at the skylights. A monumental Mike Kelley acrylic on paper shows nested picture frames around the tiny vista of a bucolic mountain cabin, which gets swallowed up in a psychedelic frenzy of painted wood-grain that surrounds it.

Barbara Kruger transforms the language of popular graphic design into a subversive threat in an oversized photo-triptych of a sleek, predatory jungle cat underscored by the off-kilter legend, “Make my day.” Jasper Johns’ exquisite 1960 study “White Flag,” an ironic symbol that pleads for negotiated surrender, makes me gulp: It’s oil on newspaper on paper over lithograph.

A triple whammy. Museum director Joanne Heyler, who organized the show with Eli Broad, assures me that conservation precautions are being taken and works will rotate. But why take the risk? I’d feel better if the paper works were all downstairs, shielded from the mischievous sun.

That vast skylight is integral to the building’s narrative. When the $140-million museum was going up, attention was riveted on the façade’s elaborate lattice work, punctuated by a bellybutton window out front. The New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro dubbed the lattice a “veil” shrouding the museum’s inner “vault,” which houses the $2-billion art collection.
Arts and culture in pictures by The Times
Caption Arts and culture in pictures by The Times
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times photographers document the year in arts and culture.
Arts and culture in pictures by The Times | Malaviki Sarukkai
Caption Arts and culture in pictures by The Times | Malaviki Sarukkai
Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Malaviki Sarukkai performing at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on July 19, 2015. Sarukkai is the best-known exponent of South Indian classical dance.

But inside the front door an eccentric, head-turning entrance hall is now revealed. Undulating walls and ceiling in dark gray plaster create a long, narrow, organic space. Think urban cavern. The room is a theatrical imitation of a cavity burrowed deep inside the Earth.

It’s art-spelunking time: Welcome to Plato’s Cave.

Plato, student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, used his famous myth of the cave, where deceptive shadows lurk, to frame an aesthetic quandary: Does art’s friction between illusion and reality generate light or merely heat?

Board the Broad’s 105-foot escalator or glass-enclosed elevator, and you shoot up two floors, “Star Trek”-style, past the second-floor vault to the galleries above. There, art is poised between the shadowy illusion below and the clear California sun above.

NYT Holand Cotter liked what he saw. I will go with that and plan to visit in October when I arrive LA from Boston.
at 2:56 PM September 13, 2015

Add a comment See all comments

The design’s pop-classical mythologizing is likely to slip by unnoticed to most visitors. (Maybe Hirohito would see Pirates of the Caribbean in the entry, not Plato’s Cave.) Theme architecture is always a bit much.

Anyhow, art does it better. Dead ahead off the escalator, Koons’ big, multicolored flower sculpture is laid out at the public’s feet — a fond welcome offering. Machined in stainless steel, these giant tulips, pristine and perfected, will never wilt, unlike nature’s fragile kind.

They’re beyond death. Koons flips the traditional role still-life flowers play, symbolizing mortality.

He further invokes the legendary tulip mania of 17th century Holland. The era also marks the art market’s modern emergence. Paintings and tulip bulbs became mediums of fevered commercial exchange.

“Tulips” tells us something we don’t always want to hear. The prospect of immortality, however vain, can be vested in precincts of incalculable wealth and extraordinary power. Like pyramids, say. Or the Broad.

The sculpture’s witty placement underscores the narrowness of the collection. It’s mainly rich in blue-chip art, defined by market value decided through consistent years of sales and confirmed at auction.

The market, subject to commercial limitations, is hardly infallible. It leaves a lot out. That’s why the show’s “sweep” feels choppy, and why about 80% of the 92 artists featured in the collection’s new catalog are male, which the art market favors.

It’s also why the show stresses art from New York and Europe, where art’s primary trading floors are located, but not Los Angeles, where the collection was assembled. Ironically, in “Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell,” his cheeky 1966-68 sign painting, L.A.’s John Baldessari gives the sardonic lowdown. “Paintings with cows and hens collect dust,” it declares, “while bulls and roosters sell.”

Markets always distinguish between what’s salable and what’s not, but they can’t calculate quality.


The problem with The Broad is the collection itself


Eli and Edythe Broad_photo by Elizabeth Daniels_33_SA_best of Eli and Edythe Broad_photo by Elizabeth Daniels_33_SA_best of

Co-founders of The Broad, Eli and Edythe Broad, in the third-floor galleries. (Elizabeth Daniels /Courtesy of The Broad)
By Philip Kennicott September 13 at 5:47 PM

LOS ANGELES — Eli Broad, the wealthy philanthropist who is about to open a major new museum in Los Angeles, is a billionaire straight from central casting. He is a self-made man in the quintessential American industry — home construction — who has also built and burnt bridges all across this sprawling city. Ask around, and no one seems to like him, though many call him effective and all agree he is the city’s supremely influential cultural leader, a Tamburlaine of contemporary art. They admire his brilliance, covet his money, fear his power and lament his character, which is described as imperious, egomaniacal and relentless.

Next Sunday, Broad and his wife, Edythe, will open The Broad, a $140 million museum that will store and display the Broad Collection, some 2,000 works, with a new one being added, on average, about once a week. Located next to Los Angeles’s iconic landmark of contemporary architecture, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York firm that created the Highline, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and was slated to design the ill-fated and unrealized temporary “Bubble” space for the Hirshhorn in Washington.

The juxtaposition is striking. Gehry’s Disney Hall is set at an angle to the street, and it shimmers, gleams and curves in all directions, while the Broad faces Grand Avenue squarely with a cool, white, box-like form covered in what the architects call a “veil” of perforated glass-fiber reinforced concrete. But even more striking than the contrast with the Gehry building is the Broad’s subtle argument with much of recent museum design. The prevailing theology of many public buildings today, including too many museums, is about erasing the line between the city and the structure, so that one feels the excitement of urban energy ever present, even while looking at art. The most salient example is the new Whitney Museum in New York, which makes love to Manhattan so eagerly that one can’t help but gape at the city’s promiscuous ubiquity.

The Broad is more inward looking, and allows for a more contemplative experience. Perhaps without intending to do so, it recaptures some of the spiritual drama of the much-maligned monumental museums of yesteryear: Fundamental to any tour of the Broad is a long escalator ride from the lobby level to the acre-square expanse of open, column-free exhibition space on the third floor. This escalation performs much of the same function as the wide, monumental steps that front many of the museums built a century ago. It separates the visitor from the city and from his cares, cars and concerns; it is a narthex for the age of distraction, allowing the mind to rebirth itself into a state of greater focus and spiritual expectation.

The escalator connects the two essential elements of the building. The “veil” is the exoskeleton, punctured by diagonal cuts and distended windows that look a bit like the webbed packing material that has mercifully replaced Styrofoam peanuts. At street level, the Grand Avenue corners of the veil lift up, recalling the shaved corner of the redesigned Juilliard School at Lincoln Center, another DS+R project. These triangular portals scoop in visitors from the street, who then discover the voluptuously non-Euclidean lobby, a space that feels both subterranean and monumental at the same time, like caverns measureless to man, or the underbelly of some enormous prehistoric mammal.

The undulating ceiling of the lobby is part of what the architects calls “the vault.” The Broads have long conceived of their collection as a “lending library” of art, and they wanted that collection stored on site. Ordinarily, that would mean creating a lot of back of house space with a storage facility hidden from view.

“We decided to turn that liability into a protagonist,” says Elizabeth Diller, one of the founding partners of DS+R. So the vault became a separate structural element inside the enveloping veil, not just a place to store art, but also a kind of mushroom in a box, overhanging the lobby from a giant cantilever, with the third-floor exhibition hall on the mushroom’s cap.

“You are always in relation to it,” says Diller. “It hovers over you, you shoot through it, you snake back through it and you come back out underneath it.” The museum’s circulation pattern offers visitors glimpses into the vault’s storage space as well, with its sliding racks of art visible from the complex descending staircase visitors follow after exploring the main gallery on the third floor.

All of this rests on a massive scaffolding that covers a three-floor parking structure. So it is a complex structure with dramatic but strikingly intuitive results. In some ways it recalls Gordon Bunshaft’s Beinecke Library at Yale, where the books are contained in a core glass-lined internal tower, surrounded by a dramatic translucent skin that mediates the light, while shutting out the world. It also has affinities with the old Whitney Building, designed by Marcel Breuer, which dramatically invites the visitor to step out of the world so as to see the world, through art, with renewed vigor.

It isn’t, of course, a perfect building. A lecture hall on the second floor feels austere and charmless, and is, surprisingly, the only interior place where one can experience one of the most whimsical features of the building, an oculus that looks from the outside like a thumb print or tiny crater in the veil. But the oculus doesn’t make much sense from inside the lecture hall, which is tiny and dispiriting. And a round elevator, which gives access from the lobby to the third floor, terminates in a distracting glass case in the middle of the main exhibition space.

The main problem, however, isn’t the building, but the Broad collection itself. More than 250 works are on display, and too many of them are the usual high-end trash. The volume of work chosen for the inaugural exhibition, on both the third floor and a smaller first-floor gallery that will eventually be used for temporary shows, is overwhelming. Partition walls clutter the third floor, and obliterate its spatial drama. And too many of the works are so large, and importune the visitor so aggressively, that one feels hectored by hectares of art.

Even though the bad overwhelms the great, there are great works throughout, including a magnificent room devoted to Cy Twombly documenting the arc of his career, iconic Pop works of the 1960s, and compelling art by Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and Jasper Johns. A room of Ellsworth Kelly is too constrained for the work to have impact, as is a giant piece by Robert Therrien, his 1994 “Under the Table,” which is a Brobdingnagian table and chairs stuffed into a Lilliputian gallery at one corner of the top floor.

Someone has taken care, here and there, to make smart moments amid the clangor, but Jeff Koons always wins. The first gallery encountered has large-scale, but effective work by Julie Mehretu, El Anatsui, and Mark Bradford, pieces that accentuate the drama of the exterior world you’ve left behind. Mehretu’s “Cairo,” 2013, recalls the Freudian overlays of history and the unconscious that are the essence of the megalopolis lifestyle; Bradford’s “Corner of Desire and Piety,” 2008, references the social failures of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe and by extension the frailty and irrationality of the urban fabric; and the El Anatsui tapestry, “Red Black,” 2010, undulating on the wall, recalls the skin of the museum itself, woven of many pieces, with a curious declivity dramatizing its strength. But a large Jeff Koons piece is droning nearby, vitiating thought with its generic monotone of irony.

A few spaces for video offer relief, including Ragnar Kjartansson magnificent “The Visitors,” 2012, and a room devoted to William Kentridge. But video doesn’t seem to be an essential part of this first display, nor are there oases of smaller work or works on paper to modulate the experience. Big is the theme, and it’s exhausting.

So leave the building and lest anyone deprecate it too much — which is inevitable given the local swelling and indigestion that Broad’s name seems to cause in this town — stand at the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street. Behind you is Gehry’s metal masterpiece; before you is an estimable refusal to be intimidated by it. And if you look down the north face of the building, the angle of the distended cuts in the veil seem to be absorbing the power of the bright blue sky, radiating it down to the ground, while along the Grand Street façade the same energies seem to flow up out of the sidewalk and back to the heavens. The veil has an energy of its own, a force field protecting a dramatic rarity: a space for art that respects the experience of looking and engagement, as a thing apart, and something worth leaving the world behind to do on its own terms.

The Broad, located at 221 S. Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, opens to the public on Sept. 20. For more information visit

Philip Kennicott is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Art and Architecture Critic of The Washington Post. He has been on staff at the Post since 1999, first as Classical Music Critic, then as Culture Critic.


Co-founders of The Broad, Eli and Edythe Broad, in the third-floor galleries. (Elizabeth Daniels /Courtesy of The Broad)
By Philip Kennicott September 13 at 5:47 PM

LOS ANGELES — Eli Broad, the wealthy philanthropist who is about to open a major new museum in Los Angeles, is a billionaire straight from central casting. He is a self-made man in the quintessential American industry — home construction — who has also built and burnt bridges all across this sprawling city. Ask around, and no one seems to like him, though many call him effective and all agree he is the city’s supremely influential cultural leader, a Tamburlaine of contemporary art. They admire his brilliance, covet his money, fear his power and lament his character, which is described as imperious, egomaniacal and relentless.

Next Sunday, Broad and his wife, Edythe, will open The Broad, a $140 million museum that will store and display the Broad Collection, some 2,000 works, with a new one being added, on average, about once a week. Located next to Los Angeles’s iconic landmark of contemporary architecture, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York firm that created the Highline, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and was slated to design the ill-fated and unrealized temporary “Bubble” space for the Hirshhorn in Washington.

The juxtaposition is striking. Gehry’s Disney Hall is set at an angle to the street, and it shimmers, gleams and curves in all directions, while the Broad faces Grand Avenue squarely with a cool, white, box-like form covered in what the architects call a “veil” of perforated glass-fiber reinforced concrete. But even more striking than the contrast with the Gehry building is the Broad’s subtle argument with much of recent museum design. The prevailing theology of many public buildings today, including too many museums, is about erasing the line between the city and the structure, so that one feels the excitement of urban energy ever present, even while looking at art. The most salient example is the new Whitney Museum in New York, which makes love to Manhattan so eagerly that one can’t help but gape at the city’s promiscuous ubiquity.

The Broad is more inward looking, and allows for a more contemplative experience. Perhaps without intending to do so, it recaptures some of the spiritual drama of the much-maligned monumental museums of yesteryear: Fundamental to any tour of the Broad is a long escalator ride from the lobby level to the acre-square expanse of open, column-free exhibition space on the third floor. This escalation performs much of the same function as the wide, monumental steps that front many of the museums built a century ago. It separates the visitor from the city and from his cares, cars and concerns; it is a narthex for the age of distraction, allowing the mind to rebirth itself into a state of greater focus and spiritual expectation.

The escalator connects the two essential elements of the building. The “veil” is the exoskeleton, punctured by diagonal cuts and distended windows that look a bit like the webbed packing material that has mercifully replaced Styrofoam peanuts. At street level, the Grand Avenue corners of the veil lift up, recalling the shaved corner of the redesigned Juilliard School at Lincoln Center, another DS+R project. These triangular portals scoop in visitors from the street, who then discover the voluptuously non-Euclidean lobby, a space that feels both subterranean and monumental at the same time, like caverns measureless to man, or the underbelly of some enormous prehistoric mammal.

The undulating ceiling of the lobby is part of what the architects calls “the vault.” The Broads have long conceived of their collection as a “lending library” of art, and they wanted that collection stored on site. Ordinarily, that would mean creating a lot of back of house space with a storage facility hidden from view.

“We decided to turn that liability into a protagonist,” says Elizabeth Diller, one of the founding partners of DS+R. So the vault became a separate structural element inside the enveloping veil, not just a place to store art, but also a kind of mushroom in a box, overhanging the lobby from a giant cantilever, with the third-floor exhibition hall on the mushroom’s cap.

“You are always in relation to it,” says Diller. “It hovers over you, you shoot through it, you snake back through it and you come back out underneath it.” The museum’s circulation pattern offers visitors glimpses into the vault’s storage space as well, with its sliding racks of art visible from the complex descending staircase visitors follow after exploring the main gallery on the third floor.

All of this rests on a massive scaffolding that covers a three-floor parking structure. So it is a complex structure with dramatic but strikingly intuitive results. In some ways it recalls Gordon Bunshaft’s Beinecke Library at Yale, where the books are contained in a core glass-lined internal tower, surrounded by a dramatic translucent skin that mediates the light, while shutting out the world. It also has affinities with the old Whitney Building, designed by Marcel Breuer, which dramatically invites the visitor to step out of the world so as to see the world, through art, with renewed vigor.

It isn’t, of course, a perfect building. A lecture hall on the second floor feels austere and charmless, and is, surprisingly, the only interior place where one can experience one of the most whimsical features of the building, an oculus that looks from the outside like a thumb print or tiny crater in the veil. But the oculus doesn’t make much sense from inside the lecture hall, which is tiny and dispiriting. And a round elevator, which gives access from the lobby to the third floor, terminates in a distracting glass case in the middle of the main exhibition space.

The main problem, however, isn’t the building, but the Broad collection itself. More than 250 works are on display, and too many of them are the usual high-end trash. The volume of work chosen for the inaugural exhibition, on both the third floor and a smaller first-floor gallery that ==
Review : The new Broad museum, though efficiently designed, really only comes alive on the periphery

Christopher Hawthorne
Los Angeles Times

A wall of glass peeks out from under the Broad museum’s honeycomb facade, a striking element on a stretch of Grand Avenue that also features Disney Hall. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a depressingly reliable fact of Los Angeles architecture: Nothing comes easily on Bunker Hill.

In the five decades since city planners radically remade Grand Avenue in a burst of urban-renewal ambition, demolishing its Victorian-era houses and apartment buildings and carving the hilltop into vast super-blocks, architects have struggled to make sense of its peculiar, wide-open scale, which can swallow subtlety whole.

Arata Isozaki, Rafael Moneo and Wolf Prix are among the prominent architects to produce disappointing buildings along Grand. Even Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, ultimately a triumph, suffered agonizing delays and fundraising crises and took nearly 15 years to complete.

The newest addition to this uneven parade of high-rises, cultural buildings and still-empty parcels is the Broad, a $140-million museum of modern and contemporary art set to open Sept. 20 at the corner of Grand and 2nd Street.

An efficient three-story box of exhibition and archive space wrapped in an eye-catching, bone-white honeycomb of fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels, it was designed by the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R for short), which won a small invited competition organized in 2010 by Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist and art collector.

Broad has had contentious relationships with architects over the years — in the 1980s, he hired Gehry to design a house in Brentwood only to fire him and recruit another firm to finish the job — and for this project set an aggressive construction timetable that was serially extended. In a related development, Broad has filed suit against the German company, Seele Inc., brought on to build the museum’s unusual latticed skin, saying fabrication errors added roughly $20 million to construction costs and delayed the opening by more than a year.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that the museum, which has moments of real charm, buckles under the burden of those expectations and conflicts. But in a number of places, including its surprisingly punchless facade, it shows the considerable strain of holding up that weight.

The elements of the Broad that have been most closely scrutinized or most often reworked, in fact, are the most uneven. It is only in the relative shadows — in the peripheral or easily overlooked spaces, or in the rooms added or enlarged late in the design process — that the architecture of the museum really comes to life.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad museum and its eye-catching honeycomb facade, dubbed “the veil.”

When you see the Broad from a distance, what stands out is a sense of near-total enclosure — the consistent cover of the white facade, which DS+R’s Elizabeth Diller refers to as the “veil” covering the “vault” of archive and office space filling most of the second floor.

The skin recalls the 1964 American Cement Building on Wilshire Boulevard, by the L.A. firm DMJM, as well as SANAA’s 2007 New Museum in New York and a range of postwar experiments in concrete shade screens by Le Corbusier and other modernist architects.

More to the point, it helps the Broad act as a foil to Disney Hall next door. Where the concert hall is reflective and extroverted, the museum is matte and mute.




Diller Scofidio + Renfro releases first official photos of The Broad

3 September 2015 | 19 comments

This first set of official images shows Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s The Broad art museum in Los Angeles ahead of its opening later this month (+ slideshow).

The Broad first images in Los Angeles
Photograph by Warren Air

The photographs – including sets from Iwan Baan and Hufton+Crow – show the three-storey museum’s honeycomb exterior, cave-like lobby and a gallery space with a view of the latticed facade.

Photograph by Benny Chan
Photograph by Benny Chan

The 120,000-square-foot (11,150 square metre) building is located on Grand Avenue in downtown LA, across the street from Frank Gehry‘s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

Set to open 20 September 2015, The Broad will contain two floors of exhibition space for the display of contemporary art. It will also serve as the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s lending library.

Photograph by Hufton+Crow
Photograph by Hufton + Crow

Described as a “veil and vault” concept, the design features a white exoskeleton that covers the exterior walls and roof. This wrapping – made up of 2,500 fibreglass-reinforced concrete elements – allows daylight to gently penetrate the interior without over-exposing the artwork.

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

A large opening along the front facade, referred to as an “oculus” by the architects, marks the location of a lecture hall on the second floor.

Speaking to Dezeen last year, Elizabeth Diller said she wanted the building to be strikingly different from Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

“We realised it was just useless to try to compete – there is no comparison to that building,” Diller said. “Compared to Disney Hall’s smooth and shiny exterior, which reflects light, The Broad is porous and absorptive, channelling light into the public spaces and galleries.”

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

The ground-level lobby is a cave-like space with curving walls sheathed in Venetian plaster. The galleries are located on the first and third floors, and a 105-foot-long (46 metre) escalator shuttles visitors from the lobby to the main gallery on the third floor.

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

At the centre of the building is a solid volume that serves as a storage area for the Broad’s collection. Windows punched into this “central mass” enables visitors to peer inside.

Photograph by Hufton+Crow
Photograph by Hufton + Crow

“Rather than relegate the storage to secondary status, the ‘vault’ plays a key role in shaping the museum experience from entry to exit,” said the museum. “Its heavy opaque mass is always in view, hovering midway in the building. Its carved underside shapes the lobby below, while its top surface is the floor plate of the exhibition space.”

“The vault stores the portions of the collection not on display in the galleries or on loan, but DS+R provided viewing windows so visitors can get a sense of the intensive depth of the collection and peer right into the storage holding,” the museum added.

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

DS+R won the commission in 2010 through a small invite-only competition. It worked with Gensler on the $140 million (£92 million) project.

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

The museum was founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, who also backed the Zaha Hadid-designed Edythe and Eli Broad Art Museum in Michigan, which opened in 2012.

Photograph by Hufton+Crow
Photograph by Hufton + Crow

The Broad in LA will be home to nearly 2,000 pieces of art from the couple’s collection – one of the most significant holdings of postwar and contemporary art in the world. The museum will be open six days a week with free general admission.

Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels
Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels

“We are pleased to offer free general admission so that affordability isn’t a criteria to see the art,” said Eli Broad in a statement. “We have been deeply moved by contemporary art and believe it inspires creativity and provokes and stimulates lively conversations. We hope visitors from Los Angeles and around the country and the world visit and are similarly enriched by this art.”

Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels
Photograph by Elizabeth Daniels

Journalists and a small number of public visitors, including Dezeen columnist Mimi Zeiger, were first given a preview of the The Broad in October 2014.

“The Broad is an object lesson for designers caught on the hamster wheel of producing interestingness,” said Zeiger. “The architecture succeeds in dampening the urge for entertainment, and makes the spectacular simply mundane.”

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

The museum is one of several major projects in LA signalling an architecture boom.

Photograph by Iwan Baan
Photograph by Iwan Baan

On Grand Avenue, LA resident Frank Gehry is planning a mixed-use development opposite his Walt Disney Concert Hall. He is also masterplanning an overhaul of the run-down LA River, and has just unveiled plans for a five-building complex on Sunset Strip. In Beverly Hills, Chinese firm MAD is planning its first US project – a residential block modelled on a hilltop village.

New Contemporary Art Centers in Miami Make it a Global Art Destination



The new ICA Miami, backed by the Braman family of Miami, who themselves own a collection of modern and contemporary art worth well over a billion dollars, will literally be next door to the de la Cruz Collection in Miami’s white-hot Design District when it debuts in 2016. The ICA Miami joins upcoming Faena Art Center from Buenos Aires in Miami Beach and the nearby Rubell Family Collection and the Margulies Warehouse, the Perez Art Museum and the Cisneros Fontanals (CIFO) (all in Miami) making the city into an instant international leader in the exhibition of modern and contemporary art. The Bass Museum in Miami Beach is expanding its exhibition space by several thousand square feet. No other city in North America outside of New York and Los Angeles has expanded its cultural infrastructure in the arena of modern and contemporary art exhibition making in the U.S. Already the existing powerhouse players have made Miami a world-class destination, especially during the annual new edition of Art Basel Miami Beach. Its been my experience that the volume and tremendous quality of 20th and 21st century contemporary art shown in Miami is a special not-to-miss treat every December, as several world-class exhibitions are held simultaneously and are open during the crush of the Art Basel Miami Beach tidal cultural tidal wave.

We can’t wait for all the construction dust to settle to see the fireworks begin  as these new venues bring even greater depth of exhibition capabilities than ever to Miami.

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles.


faena forum by OMA to open in miami beach in december 2015

image courtesy of faena/OMA

Dec 11, 2014

faena forum by OMA to open in miami beach in december 2015

original content
dec 05, 2014

it has been announced that ‘faena forum‘, a groundbreaking new center for arts and culture designed by rem koolhaas of OMA, is to open in miami beach in december 2015. the 50,000 square foot institution will be dedicated to the development of cross-disciplinary cultural programing, intended to encourage collaborations across artistic, intellectual, and geographic divides.

Rendering of the Latin American Art Museum

Latin American Art Museum, Miami | Scheduled opening: 2016

Wynwood art gallery owner Gary Nader revealed his plans for the $50 million museum, designed by Fernando Romero Enterprise. The 90,000-square-foot museum will feature permanent and rotating exhibits, space for emerging artists and a top floor restaurant.

ICA Miami Sculpture Garden

ICA Miami’s New Building in the Design District!

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami will build its new, permanent home in Miami’s Design District, on land generously donated by Miami Design District Associates. Located on NE 41 Street, the new 37,500-square-foot building is being designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos, marking their first US project to date.

Featuring more than 20,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, and a 15,000 sq ft public sculpture garden, the new building enables ICA Miami to expand its reach and programs, dedicated to promoting the exchange of art and ideas throughout the Miami region and internationally.

Ghost Houses of Detroit

Detroit House and Red Parked Car (2013)

Detroit House and Red Parked Car (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

Detroit Autopsy is my project documenting the remains of the city of Detroit. During my two recent trips there this summer I saw a level of urban devastation that was part war zone, part abandoned factory town. On Detroit’s East side, Gratiot boulevard was in ruins. Drive up and down the side streets where single family homes were build a century and more ago and see blocks in various states of despair, where the residents have been waiting forever to have the burned down and abandoned homes on their block finally removed. I have never seen such disinvestment in a major American city. There are blocks where there are so many destroyed properties that it made me think that this is not just a recent phenomenon, but a decade-by-decade stripping away of the core and life of the city. Yet on a Sunday morning on Detroit’s East Side, I saw dozens of African-Americans in Detroit wearing the same styles of clothing – from fancy hats – to sharkskin suits – that I saw in my native Cleveland and personally experienced as a child. While shooting photos of a dead house on a side street near the church I am referring to – which had a huge man working as a armed security outside wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a massive handgun, I overheard Motown music hits playing. There was a woman in her early sixties on her front porch, enjoying the early morning summer sun in the Midwest, while reliving her days of youth when Detroit was swinging with all night block parties that celebrated the elevation of the Detroit sound into the world of popular American music. Nearby I also saw men driving everything from a 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood  to a Buick Electra 225  (“A Deuce and A Quarter”) and 1960’s Thunderbirds. I could see that Detroit is much more like Cleveland that I had imaged, and nothing at all like Chicago, even in its heyday in the 1940s. My project will continue to document the disintegrating urban landscape of Detroit, and report upon new shoots of growth and life such as in Detroit’s Corktown.

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson

Detroit House Interior With Couch – Two Holes in the Ceiling (2013) by Vincent Johnson

Detroit House - Desk and Tree In Living Room

Detroit House – Desk and Tree In Living Room (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson

Detroit See Through House – No Doors: House Number 4793 (2013) by Vincent Johnson

Detroit House - Side View

Detroit House – Side View (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson/Los Angeles

Detroit House - Interior - Couch and Objects

Detroit House – Interior – Couch and Objects (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

Detroit House - Front Room Window

Detroit House – Front Room Window. (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

(2013) by Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson

Detroit Factory Demolition – Broad View (2013 by Vincent Johnson

Detroit Luxury Bar - Corktown

Detroit Luxury Bar – Corktown (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson/Los Angeles
Detroit Mercury Bar - Corktown

Detroit Mercury Bar – Corktown. (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson/Los Angeles

Detroit - Two Houses Burned Down

Detroit – Two Houses Burned Down (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson/Los Angeles

Detroit Warehouse Being Disassembled

Detroit Warehouse Being Disassembled (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

Detroit Imagination Station House - Corktown

Detroit Imagination Station House – Corktown (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

Detroit House - Post and Lintel in Nature

Detroit House – Post and Lintel and Nature Returns (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson

Detroit Corktown Pawnbroker – The Corner – Michigan Avenue (2013) by Vincent Johnson

Detroit Pawn Shop - Corktown

Detroit Pawn Shop – Corktown (2013). photography by Vincent Johnson

Detroit Warehouse and General Motors - Renaissance Center

Detroit Warehouse and General Motors – Renaissance Center by Vincent Johnson (2013)

Here’s a selection of my recent photographs of Detroit’s East side, shot in August 2013.

During my second trip to Detroit I came to realize much more of the degrees of destruction the city had experienced. It became apparent that there had been successive waves of economic disruption to working class neighborhoods, in the form of two and three mile long factory shutdowns that started at the end of WWII when Detroit was no longer the war machine manufacturer for the US military. Between 1947 and 1963, Detroit lost over 100,000 factory jobs. Working class homes made of wood were built on what now appears to be farmland, as were the factories themselves. There is also a haunting feeling of nature returning with an unbelievable force, to reclaim a part of the earth that it lost when concrete was poured over it to create streets and roads. While in Detroit in August I drove by homes where women were sitting on their porches while listening to the sound of Motown songs from the 1960’s. Motown was played in a Kentucky Fried Chicken where I stopped for lunch. People coming from church were dressed like I remember from the 1960’s, when I myself wore a sharkskin suit to church. There are entire streets of abandoned houses. There are clusters of burned down houses on hundreds of city blocks, which no longer look like city blocks but more like small town neighborhoods with a few houses still standing. I said to myself while there – what would it be like to live on a block where all of the other properties were destroyed? What would it be like to walk outside to a barren block with no street lights? Yet of the many people I spoke to while I was there, none seemed ready to give up home and leave. What also seems to have happened is that no one was held responsible for the abandoned properties, which later were destroyed during two decades of Hell Night, where crazed Greater Detroit residents rode into Detroit proper and set the city on fire, then blamed the citizens in town for the city’s destruction. Another thing I want to point out is that I first visited Detroit in 1977. I drove there from Cleveland, where I grew up. I had been to Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Buffalo and Minneapolis. I had never seen any place that was as beaten down as Detroit was then. I recall saying that it looked like the riots had just happened – but they had happened a decade before. The ragged and burned out buildings were still there, unlike in Cleveland, which had torn them down. During this trip I was in Chicago for a few days at an artist retreat before arriving in Detroit. Chicago does not look like Detroit. It has a much more refined layering of dramatic architecture. It also mows down derelict buildings. It is clearly evident that Greater Chicago loves their city. It is also clear that Greater Detroit does not care about Detroit dying. Of course there are many dead cities in the US – Camden, East St. Louis, Gary, Indiana; but there are also completely devastated smaller cities in Michigan that when whole were never as broken as these places. I’m talking about Grand Rapids, and Flint, Michigan. Detroit gets all of the attention, yet there are tens of thousands of blown up homes throughout the entire midwest. Maybe photographing in those cities will bring them more attention. We’ll see.

Vincent Johnson
in Los Angeles

Single Story House Detroit.72dpi

Mister Softie Truck Detroit.72dpi

L&T Food Center Detroit - Dollar Items - Bridge Cards.72dpi

Drink Faygo Orange Soda Pop Sign Detroit.72dpi

Detroit Window and Two Doors.72dpi

Detroit White House Black House.72dpi

Detroit Tire and Bush House.72dpi

Detroit House With Oval Upstairs Window.72dpi

Detroit Packard Store Side Entrance.72dpi

Detroit House See Through.72dpi

Detroit House Fire.72dpi

Detroit House Fire - Exterior Window View.72dpi

Detroit Ford Mercury - Retired.72dpi

Detroit House Burned - Foundation Exposed.72dpi

Detroit Fat Couch in factory lot.72dpi

Detroit Factory Open Door Policy.72dpi

Detroit A Frame With Burned House.72dpi


During the last days of May and early days of June, 2013 I visited and took photographs in San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, New York City and Houston. This is what struck me about my visit to Detroit: The astounding Henry Ford Museum – with its actual enormous Industrial Revolution machinery, the dazzling Charles Wright African-American History Museum, which has a sculptural display of what African slaves looked like on a ship from to the new World, and the total gem laden Detroit Institute of the Arts – whose extensive collection of contemporary art were a great surprise, was how there seemed to be an utter abandonment of the city. Whole avenues of derelict buildings. Historic office towers in downtown Detroit missing all of their windows. Yet in Detroit’s Corktown, the city’s oldest neighborhood, a small  collection of great yet casual bars and restaurants has formed in the shadow of  the mammoth, dead Detroit Train Station.

What I had just seen in San Francisco, the Tenderloin was a densely populated zone of homeless persons who are provided a vast array of humane services. While massive and rapid gentrification is happening – with stunning new cocktail bars opening seemingly every week. Downtown Detroit is no more beaten down than San Francisco’s Tenderloin. What is different is the degree of investment into the area, from having the entire district protected by the National Register of Historic Places, because of its 1950’s jazz scene, to creating one of the most cool neighborhoods in which to party into the night in all of America. I know that Detroit has a phenomenal jazz festival, international auto show, and a mind-blowing 40,000 car show of every kind known to humanity. Yet I ask how can it be that Detroit, once the richest city in the world in the 1950’s, could have allowed itself to fall completely apart, yet at once have maintained its roaring rich suburban enclaves, where the executive class worked, while the inner city folk toiled in the endless factories, plants, mills, refineries. Detroit’s footprint is larger than Cleveland. Its land area is 139 square miles, while Cleveland is 78 square miles, same as Brooklyn.

I went to art school at Pratt in Brooklyn during the 1980’s, I have a distinct recollection of how deadly and dangerous, raw and rotten Brooklyn, and even most of Manhattan were at that time. Yet somehow even half or more of evil old gangster paradise Brooklyn has become a hipster paradise, Chicago is an Alpha City of the highest order – even with loosing a quarter of its residents. It’s a dead town in terms of manufacturing, but a lively dynamo that has transformed even a bit of the South Side into a world of gorgeous condos, superb bars, phenomenal cooking in great world-class restaurants, international level shopping.

Now for me Chicago always had the best housing stock of any major U.S. city, with double pane lead glass windows and countless classy elements built right into their stellar apartment buildings. So much so that during the 1980’s it was difficult to tell what a bad neighborhood was – because besides the Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini Green,many gangland areas in Chicago had just as great a set of dwellings as did the far more affluent neighborhoods, like Lincoln Park, Rogers Park, both on Chicago’s North Side. I lived in Chicago as an art student at the Art Institute of Chicago in Wicker Park. There were cheap places to eat. One place sold a foot long sausage on a bun and a paper bag loaded with hot French Fries for a couple of dollars. A Mexican food place sold meat stuffed sweet and white potatoes for a dollar. The area was historic and forlorn, and over the next decade became one of the most exciting places to live in the country. This happening of course after the tidal wave of gentrification washed over cities such as Portland, Seattle, Austin, but also Pittsburg, Miami Beach, Houston. How this tidal wave of gentrification by its local citizens missed Detroit is my question.

If you look at downtown Los Angeles, you see what I am saying. Downtown LA was considered an off-limits no mans land for more than 50 years. Sometime during the last five to ten years, a fire was lit under several of the locals, who decided to transform downtown Los Angeles into a high-end bars and upscale restaurants playground, in the midst of generational homelessness on Main Street, that featured as many as a hundred thousand people. So in may ways downtown Los Angeles is like San Francisco’s Tenderloin, ragged but also highly polished, defeated and forgotten yet being refreshed, invigorated and given a new life in a renovated and often restored physical body. Let me now speak to what is happening in Cleveland, which looks a lot like Detroit, but on a smaller scale, with many fewer homes burned to the ground, despite what I saw and recorded there as one of the most frightening scenes of American private family architectural collapse. In the center of Cleveland’s East Side, there is a five avenue wide, 50 block deep new building program happening that is taking control of dead city blocks with a single house on it. Brand new 4,000 – 8,000 square foot homes for urban professionals working in the nearby world-class Cleveland Clinic are giving dead zones a complete rebirth.

So I ask, outside of Corktown’s stellar model transformation, which is such a draw that taxis bring in folk from downtown hotels, did I just miss these type of transformations in Detroit, when driving along its historic corridors of Michigan and Woodward avenues and beyond, or it is actually the case that the Detroit locals who are sitting on major paper from a century of automobile production, just cannot bring themselves to invest in their city because of it being the homes of generations of inner city working class African-Americans. I have no idea what the real and total answer is, but I did get a kick out of seeing luxury sports car owners, including a  drop-top Testarosa, touring the same ruins in downtown Detroit that I was also witnessing.

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles


The Detroit Opportunity Project

social justice and the American Dream in Detroit, MI

America’s Destiny Divide – Alter Road, Detroit

This afternoon, I’ve been watching the MSNBC Special on “Making the Grade” in Detroit.  Given the enriching discussion on the culture of schools, disadvantaged neighborhoods and the zip-code debate, I can’t help but submit some detail from my research on the nature of opportunity at Alter Road.  I asked plain questions regarding American Opportunity based on one’s residence.  Here’s an excerpt from my thesis to help add context, data, and scholarship on the issue of the difference between growing up in opportunity rich and opportunity poor neighborhoods:


Detroit’s geography—visibly blighted, with 26% of residential parcels abandoned—makes Thomas Sugrue’s thesis that “geography is destiny” both utterly compelling and profoundly troubling.[1] Cleaved by race and class as much or more than any large city in America, Detroit’s regional landscape paints the nation’s extraordinary diversity while illuminating the profound divergence of economic classes at every turn—from the ghetto poor, to the blue collar cul-de-sacs, to the estate class, and everything in between—you’ll find this brutal divergence throughout Detroit.

And nowhere is this chasm more poetically displayed than Alter Road.

In contrasts almost worthy of fiction, the 2005-2009 American Community Survey revealed the Detroit side of Alter Road at over 85% African American, more than 50% of households earn less than $30,000 annually, and less than 10% of adults have a bachelors degree; Grosse Pointe’s census tracts directly across from Alter Road are nearly polar opposite: over 85% white, only 22% of households earn less than $30,000 per year and over 50% of adults have a bachelors degree.[2]  In one glaring example, median home values at this otherwise arbitrary political line are separated by over $150,000.  Detroit’s side of Alter Road is marred by large swaths of urban decay and blight, while the pristine streets of Grosse Pointe mark the separation with lush green medians and sail-boat embossed street signs.[3] Over the course of 6 blocks in either direction, a devastating physical landscape unfolds which powerfully reveals the stark contrasts of America’s poor and privileged classes. To call the divide at Alter Road anything less than jarring would be an understatement of fact.

This divide is not new.  Writing a full generation removed in 1985, Kenneth Jackson described it this way in Crabgrass Frontier “The most conspicuous city-suburb contrast in the United States runs along Detroit’s Alter Road. Locals call the street the ‘Berlin Wall’ or the ‘barrier,’ or the ‘Mason Dixon Line.’ It divides suburban Grosse Point Communities, which are the most genteel in towns anywhere, from the east side of Detroit, which is poor and mostly black. The Detroit side is studded with abandoned cars, graffiti covered schools, and burned out buildings. Two blocks away, within view, are neatly clipped hedges and immaculate houses – a world of servants and charity balls, two-car garages     and expensive clothes.  On one side, says John Kelly, a Democratic state senator whose district awkwardly straddles both neighborhoods, is ‘West Beirut;’ on the other side, ‘Disneyland.’ [4]”

Stark inequality between Detroit and Grosse Pointe at Alter Road illuminates core questions: can it be sincerely asserted that children living on both sides of this divide possess equal opportunity?  Is the American dream equally available to them?

For anyone taking these issues seriously, the answer is plainly no. Indeed, a gnawing sensation of injustice that hovers over this great American chasm. That some people that live in Detroit along Alter Road, through sheer family will or ingenuity, attend Grosse Point Schools for the apparent advantages such an education conferred compared to Detroit Public Schools should be evidence enough for the complicating nature of family strategies to overcome disadvantage based on their home address.  That such practices are shunned or criminalized masks the fundamental problem of unequal access to high quality and learning rich school environments.  As one parent told me: “My kids will have my mom’s address, it’s the same cycle. DPS schools just aint it! I love Detroit, but it’s not it.” Although in practice an illegal act, such address switching based on zip code inequalities should reveal the depth of the challenge for disadvantaged parents.

The absence of equal life opportunities at birth in America and across the world is widely discernable.[1]  Although no child chooses her parents, her nation or her opportunity structures, we are able with startling accuracy to predict the life outcomes of the vast majority of the world’s children based on a few arbitrary markers before their first days on Earth.  Family income, parental education, and national citizenship are foremost among these; such predictors chillingly calculate the likelihood of a child surviving his 5th birthday, becoming literate, and securing economic or social mobility almost exclusively from exogenous factors, speaking little if nothing to his potential abilities, personality, intelligence, and drive to achieve in the world. [2]

The continued presence of such injustice in America, the world’s wealthiest nation, is striking. That persistent unequal life chances for any child isn’t more alarming given the national devotion to equal opportunity for all, raises questions for how to mobilize anew energy on behalf of the disadvantaged. Indeed, while many humble efforts have been made to isolate the root causes of urban poverty, and although it may be naïve to think it is possible to avoid a causal debate entirely, I emphasize the importance of exploring an integrative analysis for how culture and social structure intersect in urban poverty.

That intersection offers social policy pathways that could accelerate both the opportunity structures and the cultural mechanism for disadvantaged populations so that we may yet break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.


We can surmise that opportunity structures at Alter Road from 1960 to the present are largely the product of durable racial dichotomies and the cumulative effects of intergenerational poverty. The city’s suburban white flight, deindustrialization, and the low educational preparedness and family fragmentation patterns in low income black communities compound the challenge of fostering equal opportunity for these neighborhoods.

The polarized difference between Detroit and Grosse Pointe emerged over a relatively short period of time, and has truly deepened over the last 30 years. Such shifts in housing patterns matter because, as the Kirwin institute puts it, “due to geographic variation, not everyone has access to the critical opportunities needed to excel or advance in life. Many low-income communities, particularly communities of color, are often spatially isolated and segregated from critical opportunities. This spatial segregation from opportunity not only limits the development potential for individuals, but also reduces the development capacity of the entire region’s most important asset, its people.”[1]

I conclude by noting that one’s environment drives the context for lifestyles and acceptable social behavior.  While values, beliefs and low individual and collective efficacy thwart renewal efforts, they are not the fundamental cause of the divide, but rather its consequence.  They are the consequence of hostile political, economic and social environments, including schools, which foreclosed opportunity for most low income blacks on Alter Road. This context can lose the most crucial fact: real families live in these circumstances, make decisions, frame worldviews, develop personal narratives, and make cumulatively consequential decisions about how to pursue the American Dream, including whether and if such a dream is genuinely possible for them in the first place.

In order to “make the grade,” we must do better in our schools and as a nation to overcome the profound divides so palpably evident based on one’s home address.  Whether its in Detroit at places like Alter Road, or in your own hometown, it’s time we change the narrative by opening up opportunity for disadvantaged children to attend the best schools possible and begin curbing the other effects that forestall economic and social mobility for all.

Unless and until we can overcome the destiny divide for anyone born at any address in America, then the struggle for social justice in the United States—the struggle for America itself—will remain incomplete.

[1] For land parcel data, see Data Driven Detroit’s land parcel survey. It found that 26 percent of the city’s residential parcels – or 91,000 lots – were vacant. See this page for more information:  An example map can be located here:

[2] Derived from averages of census tracts 5126, 5129, 5232 in Detroit with Alter Road as the eastern border and census tracts 5501 and 5502 on the Grosse Pointe Park side bordering Alter Road in “Mapping America: Every City, Every Block.” The New York Times, by Mathew Bloch, Shan Carter and Alan McLean which relied on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2005-2009

[3] Officially, Alter Road is situated entirely within the city of Detroit, but is the last line of housing stock on the city’s eastern border. Grosse Pointe Park is the first of “the Pointes” which run along the eastern border of Wayne County. Grosse Pointe is used here as short hand for the area overall, but it should be noted this town is slightly further east, and the census tracts used are in Grosse Pointe Park.

[4] Jackson, Kenneth Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 1985, quoted in, The Detroit Almanac: 300 Years of life in the Motor City, April 2006, p 86

[1] powel, john a. et al “The Geography of Opportunity: Review of Opportunity Mapping Research Initiatives,” p 2

[1] Most scholars on citizenship and human equality across nationalities readily concede the point: see global indicators on child mortality, educational achievement, healthcare access and economic stability, and others at

[2] See


Ice House Detroit by Gregory Holm and Matthew Radune

Photographer Gregory Holm and architect Matthew Radune created this stunning piece of work called Ice House Detroit that gives a bit of commentary on the urban decay and frozen nature of the city of Detroit (a recent survey suggests that 1 out of 3 Detroit houses are abandoned or vacant). [via]

This photo was taken in Detroit last summer on a skateboard trip in Detroit. Detroit is full of run down houses, this is one of em.

Photo: Aaron Wynia



What’s Wrong With ‘Detropia’ – A Detroit Resident’s Perspective

The critically acclaimed and celebrated independent documentary by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady,” DETROPIA (2012)” is a beautifully photographed and brilliantly edited film about the decline and attempted resurrection of the city of Detroit that I as a long time resident of the city eagerly anticipated and couldn’t wait to see.  Yet amid the powerful images of urban decay, ironic archival footage of “the city of tomorrow” and contemporary labor/management disputes, I found this film wanting on several levels.

Unfortunately, the documentary DETROPIA does not accurately capture the true sources of the city’s long and painful suffering that in my humble opinion were precipitated 40 years ago when the Black residents of Detroit elected its first Black mayor, Coleman A. Young in 1973.  The bigoted and ultimately racist reaction to this election by Whites is what has contributed directly to the economic and political morass that has characterized the city’s slow and terrible decline.

The film, DETROPIA, while trying to put Detroit’s decline in a larger nationwide context of the erosion of manufacturing plants and outsourcing fails to mention or put into perspective the racial tensions that have long defined Detroit, segregated the mostly Black populated city from the mostly White populated surrounding suburbs and severely undermined the Black political power base that used to govern the city.

As many elderly residents, politicians and pundits who live in or near Detroit will tell you, the modern city that we know as Detroit did not come into being until just after the 1967 riots that exacerbated and polarized an already heated tinderbox of racial tensions between Whites in political power and Blacks as their subjugated victims.

Even though White flight from the city of Detroit into the surrounding suburbs had been in the process since the 1950’s, the 1967 riots arguably accelerated this White flight and the 1973 election of Mayor Coleman A. Young precipitated the segregated us v. them/White v. Black/Suburbs v. City polarization that fostered a stubborn and intractable regionalism where all would rather watch the city fall into ruin instead of accepting the fact that Detroit was and still is important to all of the residents of the State of Michigan, White and Black alike.

From the moment in 1973 when the newly elected Black mayor Coleman A. Young uttered the infamous words,” to all dope pushers, to all rip off artists, to all muggers…  It’s time to leave Detroit.  Hit Eight mile road.” (1) His words were misconstrued by bigoted and fearful Whites, those in the suburbs just beyond the border of Eight mile road and those who wanted to flee the city, as the most important excuse that was needed to evacuate Detroit and segregate it economically and politically from the rest of the state.

DETROPIA, while skillfully documenting the current urban decay that was accelerated by Black flight into the suburbs and other States after 2001, it does not capture the background of urban decay and economic impoverishment that began directly after Mayor Young’s election.  “Ironically, the political hope of the Black community was vested in the same inexorable process that was putting the city in economic peril- the unremitting flight of White people.  Joseph Hudson of the department store chain [that once filled the Detroit skyline] said it well on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the 1967 riot: “The black man has the feeling he is about to take power in the city,” Hudson observed.  “But he is going to be left with an empty bag.” (2)

One of the secondary lessons we can learn from Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” is that after the gains of the Civil Rights Movement to bring equality to all Americans, some eternally bigoted and prejudiced Whites in power sought alternate means to continue racial segregation and inequity as a,” backlash against the Civil Rights Movement.” (3)

In Detroit, after the election of Mayor Coleman A. Young two of the ways in which racial segregation was intensified and continued was through the tactic of Insurance Redlining which caused the cost of car, home and business insurance to skyrocket for the residents of Detroit (using exaggerated crime statistics) and media misrepresentation (which concentrated on violent crimes committed within the city while giving a more nuanced and cautionary presentation of crime committed outside the city limits).

These unfair tactics of Insurance Redlining and media misrepresentation came together to provide a convenient ruse through which Whites could evacuate the city and contribute to urban decay without guilt or recrimination: Devil’s Night.  The night before Halloween where childish pranks are practiced, known as Devil’s Night became a worldwide media circus in Detroit during the late 70’s and 80’s because of the many arson fires that were deliberately set allowing White home and business owners to cash in on their insurance policies, evacuate the city, and relocate in the suburbs while blaming the resultant urban decay on rampant crime and Black political mismanagement.

Further evidence of this continuation of racial bigotry and prejudice within Whites against the city and its residents was revealed during the 1992 murder of Black 36 year old substance abuser, Malice Green, who was bludgeoned to death for not opening his hand by two White police officers, Larry Nevers and Walter A. Budzyn.  Both officers were convicted and served prison time for his murder.  Although the convictions were overturned on appeal both were retried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter; although Nevers never accepted responsibility for his actions and remained unrepentant even to his death from cancer earlier this year.  It would seem that both officers felt like they were the victims of suspect Black leadership and media misrepresentation.

Yet, in many ways the murder of Malice Green was an assault literally and figuratively by Whites against the notion of twenty years of Black power and leadership exercised against one of the Black community’s most vulnerable members.  We must remember that the vicious attack began with the heavy police flashlights being struck against Green’s clenched Black fist before moving on to fracture his skull repeatedly.  The bludgeoning by the angry White police officers in the middle of the night in a racially polarized city seemed to say,” How dare this nigger disobey our command!”

On that night in Detroit in November 1992, racial bigotry, prejudice and violence had been continued through other means.

DETROPIA while juxtaposing high art Opera performances held at the renowned Detroit Opera House with scenes of abandon houses, schools, factories and empty streets strewn with trash, the film does not address how racial segregation between Detroit and its mostly White and affluent suburbs contributed to a culture of political corruption within Detroit’s leadership and a culture of collusion between the suburbs and State leadership. Economic and political segregation forced residents, city leaders and business owners to find illegal and/or ethically compromised means to maintain their middle and upper middle class lifestyles, in the face of hostile and prejudiced media misrepresentation on the part of Whites in power that had surrounded and cordoned off the city.

From Coleman A. Young and the Vista Sludge scandal as well as his dubious exchange of South African Gold Krugerrands from his associate, Kenneth Weiner, who was subsequently convicted of embezzlement of Police funds, to the indictment and conviction of his longtime Police Chief, Bill Hart also for the embezzlement of Police funds to Kwame Kilpatrick and his conviction on federal racketeering charges together with business owner Bobby Ferguson, the culture of corruption in Detroit’s Black leadership has its roots in the economic segregation of the city from its richer and economically viable suburbs by racial prejudices and bigotry that have festered and metastasized over 40 years.

It is a culture of corruption that was made more seductive and palatable to political leaders, business owners and residents by the winnowing of legal economic opportunities caused by the racial segregation that was continued by other means within the suburbs and the halls of the State legislature against the city.

So although, Ewing and Grady’s DETROPIA is beautifully photographed, brilliantly edited and even manages to sustain the eviscerated and lugubrious ambiance that haunts Detroit today, its flaw is found in its actual content which can be traced to the paradox of a Post-racial perspective.  If by Post-racial we mean looking beyond race as the sole source of human misery and social stratification in the 21st century, then such a perspective is dangerous, even reprehensible, when we look back at the past- especially a past that was predicated upon race.  Maybe the term Post-racial is itself too problematic, when what is really meant is that race is but one out of a panoply of tactics humans have at their disposal to discriminate and maintain inequality amongst one another.

In short, what’s wrong with DETROPIA is that it evades the issue of race as it documents a city that has been defined (and nearly destroyed) by racial bigotry, riots, segregation and prejudice.  If this analogy is not too farfetched, watching DETROPIA is like watching a documentary on Hiroshima where the filmmakers never mention the dropping of the atomic bomb; you just know something is missing and it’s as clear as the color of the nose on your face.


(1) Pg. 200, in HARD STUFF: The Autobiography of Mayor Coleman Young by Coleman Young and Lonnie Wheeler Viking Press, New York: 1994.

(2) Pg. 197, Ibid.

(3) Pg. 11, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander The New Press, New York: 2012.

Andre Seewood is the author of SLAVE CINEMA: The Crisis of the African-American in Fil



April 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Daniel Howes

Detroit’s story: decline or revival?

As pundits try to explain Detroit’s population loss, it’s clear that no single answer exists for the decline

Abandoned houses sit next to occupied homes in the Delray neighborhood, an unfortunate occurrence in Detroit. (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News)

If there’s a prize for writing a city’s obituary 50 years too soon, the winner is Time Magazine. In October 1961, the early days of the Kennedy administration, the weekly described a city where “prosperity seemed to go on forever — but it didn’t, and Detroit is now in trouble.”

People were leaving, its population down 10.7 percent between 1950 and 10 years later. Auto jobs were disappearing, casualties of consolidation and competition. The new mayor, Jerome Cavanagh, inherited a city budget deficit that the Citizens Research Council of Michigan pegged at $15 million.

That was 50 years ago, and what’s changed? Nothing and everything. Detroit’s newest decennial population bleed to the suburbs and beyond is 237,500, or roughly 25 percent of the population. Its finances and tax base remain a mess, despite Herculean efforts by the administration of Mayor Dave Bing. And its automakers? Not what they used to be.

No wonder, then, that all this and more — collapsing public schools, a raw legacy of political scandal, a battered and rebuilt auto industry and, most recently, harrowing numbers from the U.S. Census — prompted headline writers at The Wall Street Journal to proclaim “A Requiem for Detroit.” The dirgeful score has been more than a half century in the making.

Chrysler Corp. long ago bolted for Auburn Hills, changed hands three times and collapsed into bankruptcy. General Motors Corp. did, too, a pair of searing workouts that radically changed their footprints, their leadership cultures and the size of work forces that Detroit and its neighbors used to build whole communities.

The steady decline is bad enough. Worse is the accelerating speed of the unraveling, punctuated by the automotive reckonings of 2008 and ’09 and now the stunning census numbers. In a simple spreadsheet, the feds supplied the grist for a series of urban obits that have been a long time coming and the media — at least those who even bothered to care — duly obliged.

The Wall Street Journal headlined its story “Detroit’s population crashes,” which is painful to read but true. The New York Times head, also true, said, “Detroit census confirms a desertion like no other” and began its report like this:

“Laying bare the country’s most startling example of modern urban collapse …,” census data offered “… dramatic testimony to the crumbling industrial base of the Midwest, black flight to the suburbs and the tenuous future of what was once a thriving metropolis.”

This week, CNBC moved past the politics and got to the kind of dollars and cents issue that threatens the city’s viability far more than political finger-pointing: “Can Detroit Afford its Debt?” asked the headline. “The startling collapse of Detroit’s population raises doubts about whether the city can afford to shoulder its enormous debt load.”

To which I have a two-word response: “Excellent point.”

In a blog post for the Washington Examiner, Detroit native Michael Barone noted the “utter devastation” in his hometown and the fact that it has lost 61 percent of its population since 1950. Then he struck a chord familiar to conservatives happy to blame Detroit’s implosion on everything from LBJ’s Great Society to Detroit’s entitlement culture, even if the plight goes deeper and wider than partisan politics:

“When people ask me why I moved from being a liberal to being a conservative, my single-word answer is Detroit,” he wrote. “The liberal policies which I hoped would make Detroit something like heaven have made it instead something more like hell.”

An incomplete picture

It’s not that the accounts are wrong. They aren’t. It’s that they’re often incomplete, oversimplified and laden with political caricature, the better to score partisan points, occupy some mythical moral high ground or both.

Detroit’s decline has many parents. There is the decided leftward tilt of politics that favored labor and government bureaucracy over business; the slavish reliance on an arrogant auto industry whose allegiance was to itself, mostly; an educational culture that valued teachers, administrators and contractors more than students; racial tension, inflamed by the ’67 riots, busing and crime that accelerated the exodus.

Conservatives cite unions and Democratic welfare-state policies; liberals blame business, white flight and trade deals. And that’s before locals get into the act with Detroiters blaming the suburbs and Republicans and suburbanites blaming former Mayor Coleman Young and forced busing. If only it was all that simple.

“The first problem that I see is the continuum of another negative national story that comes out of Detroit,” says Larry Alexander, president of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Whether it’s the political scandals, the demise of the auto industry, the corruption that took place in our convention center or the collapse of our school system … people say, ‘My God, is Detroit going to survive?'”

The honest answer: Not sure. And, second, the continuing stream of semi-informed commentary on Detroit’s man-made disaster(s) doesn’t help sell the city to would-be investors, media types or average folks.

Oh, yes, something resembling a city called Detroit will emerge from the other side of these tempering fires, just like companies calling themselves GM and Chrysler emerged from federally induced bankruptcies. Like the automakers, the city likely will be smaller, leaner and more nimble because the alternative is a one-way street to the largest municipal collapse in the nation’s history.

City’s decline bottoming

In other words, the Perfect Storm that hit Detroit still rages, despite renewed energy downtown, demand for housing in Midtown and billions in investment by hospitals, high-tech firms and the hospitality industry. The population flight, recession-fueled foreclosure crisis, public schools in free-fall, declining tax revenue and a changing landscape among private sector employers cannot be neutralized by new investment in Midtown, the Detroit Medical Center, casinos, hotels and a $300 million rehab of Cobo Center.

They’re necessary, but not yet sufficient to reverse a trend that has been gathering momentum since Harry Truman was president. Worse, those are the kind of on-the-ground changes that drive-by media types don’t see from their offices in New York or Washington.

But the granular truth is that more in Detroit is changing today than remaining the same because it has to. A former mayor and former City Council president sit in prison, but the new mayor and a reconstituted council are both more realistic about Detroit’s predicament than any time in years.

Michigan has a new governor, Rick Snyder, who professes a desire to help Detroit wherever possible. A revised emergency financial manager law gives appointees more power to force painful change on school systems and municipalities, up to and including voiding collective bargaining agreements.

Has the time for Detroit’s requiem arrived?

“I don’t think so,” says Sheila Cockrel, a former City Council member who runs her own consulting firm and teaches at Wayne State University. “The window hasn’t been shut, but it’s closing rapidly. We’re running out of time,” for radical change. “It has to be done or we’re going to be the first above-ground Pompeii.”

From The Detroit News:



Could Detroit Become America’s Design Capital?

Could Detroit Become America's Design Capital?
Courtesy of the College for Creative Studies

Last month I received my first-ever academic degree, an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. I had never heard of the school before it got in touch with me, and my sole knowledge of Detroit was the popular perception of it as a metropolis of modern ruins. But when I visited, I was blown away by this surprisingly little known but inspiring incubator of art and design – the rare collegiate creative enclave that engages with, reflects, and embodies the city it’s in.

That city is, of course, a poster child for urban blight and urban flight. But it’s also the storied home of American manufacturing and industrial innovation, and with the help of CCS, it could well become the design capital of the United States again.

The college began in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts “to encourage good and beautiful work as applied to useful service.” That notion of “useful service” soon expanded to include fine arts and what was called the “industrial arts” – the craft that would help power Detroit’s auto industry, which in turn over the years has helped power the college’s endowment and board of directors.

Transportation Design spray booth  Caption A unique spray booth allows students to complete sponsored research projects 650.jpg
Students complete sponsored research projects in a spray booth. Image courtesy of CCS

By the 1980s, though, enrollment had been dropping, the college was running substantial annual deficits, and the faculty was factionalized. In 1994, Richard Rogers, a vice president at the New School in New York City, was appointed CCS’s president with the mandate of fixing the problems, he told me.

“I arrived here at a hopeful moment,” he says. “A new mayor, Dennis Archer, had just been elected and got the business community more engaged in the city. A wave of downtown development began that led to the building of two new sports stadiums and expansion of many cultural and educational institutions, including the first expansion we did at CCS after I got here.”

CCS operates two campuses, both closely tied with the city’s history. The older includes the 1958 Yamasaki Building designed by Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the World Trade Center in New York) and the Josephine F. Ford Sculpture Garden (named after the school’s primary benefactor). The latest addition, the old Argonaut Building, was GM’s original engineering and design facility. It also once held the studio of Harley Earl, who introduced America to modern auto design and developed the concept of the “model year,” which used design changes to create demand for new vehicles.

GM donated the 760,000 square foot building to CCS in 2008, when it was renamed the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education. It currently houses undergraduate and graduate design programs, as well as a unique art and design charter school for students from sixth to 12th grade (many of whom are inner-city), run by CCS and the Henry Ford Learning Institute. In the building, you’ll also find the showroom and factory of Shinola, producers of “Made in Detroit” bicycles, watches, and stationary.

Aerial view of Ford Campus  Caption An aerial view of CCSs Walter and Josephine Ford Campus 650.jpg
An aerial view of CCS’s Walter and Josephine Ford Campus. Image courtesy of CCS

Most of CCS’s students hail from Michigan, and many stay in Detroit, working in or around the auto industry. Fifteen percent of CCS graduates come from its transportation design department, the balance are in graphic, product, ceramic design, illustration, animation, video games, painting, sculpture, glass blowing, interiors, and more. While they’re in school, students work on research projects sponsored by a wide range of corporations and institutions. Shinola is one of the most involved of those partner companies, having facilitated class projects on branding, bicycle design, watch design, and fashion accessory design.

“Their physical proximity in our building makes these collaborations very easy, and the students have a lot of exposure to Shinola’s creative thinkers,” Rogers says.

The partnerships with local corporations and the charter school are two of the ways that CCS is contributing to Detroit’s status as a growing designer’s colony. CCS has played a role in that dynamic in other ways as well—managing the Kresge Arts in Detroit program, which awards fellowships and grants to artists, for example.

But Rogers is quick to point out that Detroit has long been a creativity hub, as shown in part by the fact that it’s home to two design schools, CCS in the city and Cranbrook just to the north. The city already has a robust arts community in part made possible by inexpensive real estate and the palpable sense that artists can be engaged in helping the city move forward. “I think [Detroit is] already a big ‘D’ design city but not adequately recognized as such,” he says, acknowledging that Detroit’s economic struggles more often define it in the public’s mind. “We have to do a better job of telling our story. We’re realists here. We know the problems. But we also know that there’s a lot of positive action in the city now, and designers are playing an important role.”

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

Keywords: Detroit, College for Creative Studies
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the MFA Design program at the School of Visual Arts and co-founder of the MFA Design Criticism program. All posts »

Article — From the July 2007 issue

Detroit Arcadia

Exploring the post-American landscape


Until recently there was a frieze around the lobby of the Hotel Pontchartrain in downtown Detroit, a naively charming painting of a forested lakefront landscape with Indians peeping out from behind the trees. The hotel was built on the site of Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the old French garrison that three hundred years ago held a hundred or so pioneer families inside its walls while several thousand Ottawas and Hurons and Potawatomis went about their business outside, but the frieze evoked an era before even that rude structure was built in the lush woodlands of the place that was not yet Michigan or the United States. Scraped clear by glaciers during the last ice age, the landscape the French invaded was young, soggy, and densely forested. The river frontage that would become Detroit was probably mostly sugar maple and beech forest, with black ash or mixed hardwood swamps, a few patches of conifers, and the occasional expanse of what naturalists like to call wet prairie—grasslands you might not want to walk on. The Indians killed the trees by girdling them and planted corn in the clearings, but the wild rice they gathered and the fish and game they hunted were also important parts of their ?diet. One pioneer counted badger, bear, fisher, fox, mink, muskrat, porcupine, rabbit, raccoon, weasel, wildcat, wolf, and woodchuck among the local species, and cougar and deer could have been added to the list. The French would later recruit the Indians to trap beaver, which were plentiful in those once-riverine territories—détroit means “strait” or “narrows,” but in its thirty-two-mile journey from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, the Detroit River also had several tributaries, including Parent’s Creek, which was later named Bloody Run after some newly arrived English soldiers managed to lose a fight they picked with the local Ottawas.Fort Pontchartrain was never meant to be the center of a broad European settlement. It was a trading post, a garrison, and a strategic site in the scramble between the British and the French to dominate the North American interior. Cadillac, the ambitious Frenchman who established the fort in 1701, invited members of several Indian nations to surround the fort in order to facilitate more frequent trading, but this led to clashes not just between nations but between races. Unknown Indians set fire to Fort Pontchartrain in 1703, and the Fox skirmished there in 1712. After the English took over in 1760, deteriorating relations with the local tribes culminated in the three-year-long, nearly successful Ottawa uprising known as Pontiac’s Rebellion.

This is all ancient history, but it does foreshadow the racial conflicts that never went away in Detroit, though now white people constitute the majority who surround and resent the 83 percent black city. It’s as if the fort had been turned inside out—and, in fact, in the 1940s a six-foot-tall concrete wall was built along Eight Mile Road, which traces Detroit’s northern limits, to contain the growing African-American population. And this inversion exposes another paradox. North of Eight Mile, the mostly white suburbs seem conventional, and they may face the same doom as much of conventional suburban America if sprawl and ?auto-based civilization die off with oil shortages and economic decline. South of Eight Mile, though, Detroit is racing to a far less predictable future.

It is a remarkable city now, one in which the clock seems to be running backward as its buildings disappear and its population and economy decline. The second time I visited Detroit I tried to stay at the Pontchartrain, but the lobby was bisected by drywall, the mural seemed doomed, and the whole place was under some form of remodeling that resembled ruin, with puddles in the lobby and holes in the walls, few staff people, fewer guests, and strange grinding noises at odd hours. I checked out after one night because of the cold water coming out of the hot-water tap and the generally spooky feeling generated by trying to sleep in a 413-room high-rise hotel with almost no other guests. I was sad to see the frieze on its way out, but—still—as I have explored this city over the last few years, I have seen an oddly heartening new version of the landscape it portrays, a landscape that is not quite post-apocalyptic but that is strangely—and sometime even beautifully—post-American.

This continent has not seen a transformation like Detroit’s since the last days of the Maya. The city, once the fourth largest in the country, is now so depopulated that some stretches resemble the outlying farmland and others are altogether wild. Downtown still looks like a downtown, and all of those high-rise buildings still make an impressive skyline, but when you look closely at some of them, you can see trees growing out of the ledges and crevices, an invasive species from China known variously as the ghetto palm and the tree of heaven. Local wisdom has it that whenever a new building goes up, an older one will simply be abandoned, and the same rule applies to the blocks of new condos that have been dropped here and there among the ruins: why they were built in the first place in a city full of handsome old houses going to ruin has everything to do with the momentary whims of the real estate trade and nothing to do with the long-term survival of cities.

The transformation of the residential neighborhoods is more dramatic. On so many streets in so many neighborhoods, you see a house, a little shabby but well built and beautiful. Then another house. Then a few houses are missing, so thoroughly missing that no trace of foundation remains. Grass grows lushly, as though nothing had ever disturbed the pastoral verdure. Then there’s a house that’s charred and shattered, then a beautiful house, with gables and dormers and a porch, the kind of house a lot of Americans fantasize about owning. Then more green. This irregular pattern occurs mile after mile, through much of Detroit. You could be traveling down Wa bash Street on the west side of town or Pennsylvania or Fairview on the east side of town or around just about any part of the State Fair neighborhood on the city’s northern border. Between the half-erased neighborhoods are ruined factories, boarded-up warehouses, rows of storefronts bearing the traces of failed enterprise, and occasional solid blocks of new town houses that look as though they had been dropped in by helicopter. In the bereft zones, solitary figures wander slowly, as though in no hurry to get from one abandoned zone to the next. Some areas have been stripped entirely, and a weedy version of nature is returning. Just about a third of Detroit, some forty square miles, has evolved past decrepitude into vacancy and prairie—an urban void nearly the size of San Francisco.

It was tales of these ruins that originally drew me to the city a few years ago. My first visit began somberly enough, as I contemplated the great neoclassical edifice of the train station, designed by the same architects and completed the same year as Grand Central station in Manhattan. Grand Central thrives; this broken building stands alone just beyond the grim silence of Michigan Avenue and only half a mile from the abandoned Tiger Stadium. Rings of cyclone fence forbid exploration. The last train left on January 5, 1988— the day before Epiphany. The building has been so thoroughly gutted that on sunny days the light seems to come through the upper stories as though through a cheese grater; there is little left but concrete and stone. All the windows are smashed out. The copper pipes and wires, I was told, were torn out by the scavengers who harvest material from abandoned buildings around the city and hasten their decay.

On another visit, I took a long walk down a sunken railroad spur that, in more prosperous times, had been used to move goods from one factory to another. A lot of effort had gone into making the long channel of brick and concrete about twenty feet below the gently undulating surface of Detroit, and it had been abandoned a long time. Lush greenery grew along the tracks and up the walls, which were like a museum of spray-can art from the 1980s and 1990s. The weeds and beer cans and strangely apposite graffiti decrying the 1993 passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement seemed to go on forever.

I took many pictures on my visits to Detroit, but back home they just looked like snapshots of abandoned Nebraska farmhouses or small towns farther west on the Great Plains. Sometimes a burned-out house would stand next to a carefully tended twin, a monument to random fate; sometimes the rectilinear nature of city planning was barely perceptible, just the slightest traces of a grid fading into grassy fields accented with the occasional fire hydrant. One day after a brief thunderstorm, when the rain had cleared away and chunky white clouds dotted the sky, I wandered into a neighborhood, or rather a former neighborhood, of at least a dozen square blocks where trees of heaven waved their branches in the balmy air. Approximately one tattered charred house still stood per block. I could hear the buzzing of crickets or cicadas, and I felt as if I had traveled a thousand years into the future.

To say that much of Detroit is ?ruins is, of course, to say that some of it isn’t. There are stretches of Detroit that look like anywhere in the U.S.A.—blocks of town houses and new condos, a flush of gentility spreading around the Detroit Institute of Arts, a few older neighborhoods where everything is fine. If Detroit has become a fortress of urban poverty surrounded by suburban affluence, the city’s waterfront downtown has become something of a fortress within a fortress, with a convention center, a new ballpark, a new headquarters for General Motors, and a handful of casinos that were supposed to be the city’s economic salvation when they were built a decade ago. But that garrison will likely fend off time no better?than Fort Detroit or the?Hotel Pontchartrain.

Detroit is wildly outdated, but it is not very old. It was a medium-size city that boomed in the first quarter of the twentieth century, became the “arsenal of democracy” in the second, spent the third in increasingly less gentle decline, and by the last quarter was a byword for urban decay, having made a complete arc in a single century. In 1900, Detroit had a quarter of a million people. By midcentury the population had reached nearly 2 million. In recent years, though, it has fallen below 900,000. Detroit is a cautionary tale about one-industry towns: it shrank the way the old boomtowns of the gold and silver rushes did, as though it had been mining automobiles and the veins ran dry, but most of those mining towns were meant to be ephemeral. People thought Detroit would go on forever.

Coleman Young, Detroit’s first African-American mayor, reigned from 1974 to 1993, the years that the change became irreversible and impossible to ignore, and in his autobiography he sounds like he is still in shock:

It’s mind-boggling to think that at mid-century Detroit was a city of close to two million and nearly everything beyond was covered with corn and cow patties. Forty years later, damn near every last white person in the city had moved to the old fields and pastures—1.4 frigging million of them. Think about that. There were 1,600,000 whites in Detroit after the war, and 1,400,000 of them left. By 1990, the city was just over a million, nearly eighty percent of it was black, and the suburbs had surpassed Detroit not only in population but in wealth, in commerce—even in basketball, for God’s sake.

The Detroit Pistons are now based in Auburn Hills. According to the 2000 census, another 112,357 whites left the city in the 1990s, and 10,000 more people a year continue to leave. Even three hundred bodies a year are exhumed from the cemeteries and moved because some of the people who were once Detroiters or the children of Detroiters don’t think the city is good enough for their dead. Ford and General Motors, or what remains of them—most of the jobs were dispatched to other towns and nations long agoin trouble, too. Interestingly, in this city whose name is synonymous with the auto industry, more than a fifth of households have no cars.

“Detroit’s Future Is Looking Brighter,” said a headline in the Detroit Free Press, not long after another article outlined the catastrophes afflicting the whole state. In recent years, Michigan’s household income has dropped more than that of any other state, and more and more of its citizens are slipping below the poverty line. David Littmann, a senior economist for the Michigan think tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told the paper, “As the economy slows nationally, we’re going to sink much farther relative to the other states. We’ve only just begun. We’re going to see Michigan sink to levels that no one has ?ever seen.”

In another sense, the worst is over in Detroit. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city was falling apart, spectacularly and violently. Back then the annual pre-Halloween arson festival known as Devil’s Night finished off a lot of the abandoned buildings; it peaked in 1984 with 810 fires in the last three days of October. Some of the arson, a daughter of Detroit’s black bourgeoisie told me, was ?constructive—crackhouses being burned down by the neighbors; her own respectable aunt had torched one. Between 1978 and 1998, the city issued 9,000 building permits for new homes and 108,000 demolition permits, and quite a lot of structures were annihilated without official sanction.

Even Ford’s old Highland Park headquarters, where the Model T was born, is now just a shuttered series of dusty warehouses with tape on the windows and cyclone fences around the cracked pavement. Once upon a time, the plant was one of the wonders of the world—on a single day in 1925 it cranked out 9,000 cars, according to a sign I saw under a tree next to the empty buildings. Detroit once made most of the cars on earth; now the entire United States makes not even one in ten. The new Model T Ford Plaza next door struck my traveling companion—who, like so many white people born in Detroit after the war, had mostly been raised elsewhere—as auspicious. But the mall was fronted by a mostly empty parking lot and anchored by a Payless ShoeSource, which to my mind did not portend an especially bright future.

When I came back, a year after my first tour, I stopped at the Detroit Institute of Arts to see the Diego Rivera mural commissioned in 1932 by Henry Ford’s son, Edsel. The museum is a vast Beaux-Arts warehouse—“the fifth-largest fine arts museum in the United States,” according to its promotional literature—and the fresco covered all four walls of the museum’s central courtyard. Rivera is said to have considered it his finest work.

It’s an odd masterpiece, a celebration of the River Rouge auto plant, which had succeeded the Highland Park factory as Ford’s industrial headquarters, painted by a Communist for the son of one of the richest capitalists in the world. The north and south walls are devoted to nearly life-size scenes in which the plant’s gray gears, belts, racks, and workbenches surge and swarm like some vast intestinal apparatus. The workers within might be subsidiary organs or might be lunch, as the whole churns to excrete a stream of black Fords.

Rivera created this vision when the city was reveling in the newfound supremacy of its megafactories, but Detroit had already reached its apex. Indeed, the River Rouge plant—then the largest factory complex in the world, employing more than 100,000 workers on a site two and a half times the size of New York City’s Central Park—was itself built in suburban Dearborn. In 1932, though, capitalists and Communists alike shared a belief that the most desirable form of human organization—indeed, the inevitable form—was not just industrial but this kind of industrial: a Fordist system of “rational” labor, of centralized production in blue-collar cities, of eternal prosperity in a stern gray land. Even the young Soviet Union looked up to Henry Ford.

But Detroit was building the machine that would help destroy not just this city but urban industrialism across the continent. Rivera painted, in a subsidiary all-gray panel in the lower right corner of the south wall, a line of slumped working men and women exiting the factory into what appears to be an endless parking lot full of Ford cars. It may not have looked that way in 1932, but a lot of the gray workers were going to buy those gray cars and drive right out of the gray city. The city-hating Ford said that he wanted every family in the world to have a Ford, and he priced them so that more and more families could. He also fantasized about a post-urban world in which workers would also farm, seasonally or part-time, but he did less to realize that vision. Private automobile ownership was a double blow against the density that is crucial to cities and urbanism and against the Fordist model of concentrated large-scale manufacture. Ford was sabotaging Detroit and then Fordism almost from the beginning; the city had blown up rapidly and would spend the next several decades simply disintegrating.

Detroit was always a rough town. When Rivera painted his fresco, the Depression had hit Detroit as hard as or harder than anywhere, and the unemployed were famished and desperate, desperate enough to march on the Ford Motor Company in the spring of 1932. It’s hard to say whether ferocity or desperation made the marchers fight their way through police with tear-gas guns and firemen with hoses going full bore the last stretch of the way to the River Rouge plant. Harry Bennett, the thug who ran Ford more or less the way Stalin was running the Soviet Union, arrived, and though he was immediately knocked out by a flying rock, the police began firing on the crowd, injuring dozens and killing five. The battle of the Hunger March or the huge public funeral afterward would’ve made a good mural.

No, it wasn’t cars alone that ruined Detroit. It was the whole improbable equation of the city in the first place, the “inherent contradictions.” The city was done in by deindustrialization, decentralization, the post–World War II spread of highways and freeways, government incentives to homeowners, and disinvestment in cities that aided and abetted large-scale white flight into the burgeoning suburbs of those years. Chunks of downtown Detroit were sacrificed early, in the postwar years, so that broad arterial freeways—the Edsel Freeway, the Chrysler Freeway—could bring commuters in from beyond city limits.

All of this was happening everywhere else too, of course. The manufacturing belt became the rust belt. Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, and other cities clustered around the Great Lakes were hit hard, and the shrinking stretched down to St. Louis and across to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Newark. Now that it has entered a second gilded age, no one seems to remember that New York was a snowballing disaster forty or fifty years ago. The old textile district south of Houston Street had emptied out so completely that in 1962 the City Club of New York published a report on it and other former commercial areas titled “The Wastelands of New York City.” San Francisco went the same way. It was a blue-collar port city until the waterfront dried up and the longshoremen faded away.

Then came the renaissance, but ?only for those cities reborn into more dematerialized economies. Vacant lots were filled in, old warehouses were turned into lofts or offices or replaced, downtowns became upscale chain outlets, janitors and cops became people who commuted in from downscale suburbs, and the children of that white flight came back to cities that were not exactly cities in the old sense. The new American cities trade in information, entertainment, tourism, software, finance. They are abstract. Even the souvenirs in these new economies often come from a sweatshop in China. The United States can be mapped as two zones now, a high-pressure zone of economic boom times and escalating real estate prices, and a low-?pressure zone, where housing might be the only thing that’s easy to come by.

This pattern will change, though. The forces that produced Detroit—the combination of bitter racism and single-industry failure—are anomalous, but the general recipe of deindustrialization, depopulation, and resource depletion will likely touch almost all the regions of the global north in the next century or two. Dresden was rebuilt, and so was Hiroshima, and so were the cities destroyed by natural forces—San Francisco and Mexico City and Tangshan—but Detroit will never be rebuilt as it was. It will be the first of many cities forced?to become altogether something else.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is in one of those flourishing parts of Detroit; it is expanding its 1927 building, and when I said goodbye to the Rivera mural and stepped outside into the autumn sunshine, workmen were installing slabs of marble on the building’s new facade. I noticed an apparently homeless dog sleeping below the scaffolding, and as I walked past, three plump white women teetered up to me hastily, all attention focused on the dog. “Do you have a cell phone?” the one topped by a froth of yellow hair shrilled. “Call the Humane Society!” I suggested that the dog was breathing fine and therefore was probably okay, and she looked at me as though I were a total idiot. “This is downtown Detroit,” she said, in a tone that made it clear the dog was in imminent peril from unspeakable forces, and that perhaps she was, I was, we all were.

I had been exploring an architectural-salvage shop near Rosa Parks Boulevard earlier that day, and when I asked the potbellied and weathered white man working there for his thoughts on the city, the tirade that followed was similarly vehement: Detroit, he insisted, had been wonderful—people used to dress up to go downtown, it had been the Paris of the Midwest!—and then it all went to hell. Those people destroyed it. My traveling companion suggested that maybe larger forces of deindustrialization might have had something to do with what happened to the city, but the man blankly rejected this analysis and continued on a tirade about “them” that wasn’t very careful about not being racist.

On the Web you can find a site, Stormfront White Nationalist Community, that is even more comfortable with this version of what happened to the city, and even less interested in macroeconomic forces like deindustrialization and globalization: “A huge non-White population, combined with annual arson attacks, bankruptcy, crime, and decay, have combined to make Detroit—once the USA’s leading automotive industrial center—?into a ruin comparable with those of the ancient civilizations—with the cause being identical: the replacement of the White population who built the city, with a new non-White population.” It could have been different. “In more civilized environs, these facilities might have easily been transformed into a manufacturing and assembly center for any number of industrial enterprises,” writes the anonymous author.

A few months before the diatribe in the salvage yard, I’d met a long-haired counterculture guy who also told me he was from Detroit, by which he, like so many others I’ve met, meant the suburbs of Detroit. When I asked him about the actual city, though, his face clenched like a fist. He recited the terrible things they would do to you if you ventured into the city, that they would tear you apart on the streets. He spoke not with the voice of a witness but with the authority of tradition handed down from an unknown and irrefutable source. The city was the infernal realm, the burning lands, the dragon’s lair at the center of a vast and protective suburban sprawl.

The most prominent piece of public art in Detroit is the giant blackened bronze arm and fist that serve as a monument to heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, who grew up there. If it were vertical it would look like a Black Power fist, but it’s slung from cables like some medieval battering ram waiting to be dragged up to the city walls.

Deindustrialization dealt Detroit a sucker punch, but the knockout may have been white flight—at least economically. Socially, it was a little more complex. One African-American woman who grew up there told me that white people seemed to think they were a great loss to the city they abandoned, “but we were glad to see them go and waved bye-bye.” She lived in Ann Arbor—the departure of the black middle class being yet another wrinkle in the racial narrative—but she was thinking of moving back, she said. If she had kids, raising them in a city where they wouldn’t be a minority had real appeal.

The fall of the paradise that was Detroit is often pinned on the riots of July 1967, what some there still refer to as the Detroit Uprising. But Detroit had a long history of race riots—there were vicious white-on-black riots in 1833, 1863, 1925, and 1943. And the idyll itself was unraveling long before 1967. Local 600 of the United Auto Workers broke with the union mainstream in 1951, sixteen years before the riots, to sue Ford over decentralization efforts already under way. They realized that their jobs were literally going south, to states and nations where labor wasn’t so organized and wages weren’t so high, back in the prehistoric era of “globalization.”

The popular story wasn’t about the caprices of capital, though; it was about the barbarism of blacks. In 1900, Detroit had an African-American population of 4,111. Then came the great migration, when masses of southern blacks traded Jim Crow for the industrialized promised land of the North. Conditions might have been better here than in the South, but Detroit was still a segregated city with a violently racist police department and a lot of white people ready to work hard to keep black people out of their neighborhoods. They failed in this attempt at segregation, and then they left. This is what created the blackest city in the United States, and figures from Joe Louis and Malcolm X to Rosa Parks and the bold left-wing Congressman John Conyers—who has represented much of the city since 1964—have made Detroit a center of activism and independent leadership for African Americans. It’s a black?city, but it’s surrounded.

Surrounded, but inside that stockade of racial divide and urban decay are visionaries, and their visions are tender, hopeful, and green. Grace Lee Boggs, at ninety-one, has been politically active in the city for more than half a century. Born in Providence to Chinese immigrant parents, she got a Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr in 1940 and was a classical Marxist when she married the labor organizer Jimmy Boggs, in 1953. That an Asian woman married to a black man could become a powerful force was just another wrinkle in the racial politics of Detroit. (They were together until Jimmy’s death, in 1993.) Indeed, her thinking evolved along with the radical politics of the city itself. During the 1960s, the Boggses were dismissive of Martin Luther King Jr. and ardent about Black Power, but as Grace acknowledged when we sat down together in her big shady house in the central city, “The Black Power movement, which was very powerful here, concentrated only on power and had no concept of the challenges that would face a black-powered administration.” When Coleman Young took over city hall, she said, he could start fixing racism in the police department and the fire department, “but when it came time to do something about Henry Ford and General Motors, he was helpless. We thought that all we had to do was transform the system, that all the problems were on the other side.”

As the years went by, the Boggses began to focus less on putting new people into existing power structures and more on redefining or dismantling the structures altogether. When she and Jimmy crusaded against Young’s plans to rebuild the city around casinos, they realized they had to come up with real alternatives, and they began to think about what a local, sustainable economy would look like. They had already begun to realize that Detroit’s lack of participation in the mainstream offered an opportunity to do everything differently—that instead of retreating back to a better relationship to capitalism, to industry, to the mainstream, the city could move forward, turn its liabilities into assets, and create an economy entirely apart from the transnational webs of corporations and petroleum. Jimmy Boggs described his alternative vision in a 1988 speech at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Detroit. “We have to get rid of the myth that there is something sacred about large-scale production for the national and international market,” he said. “We have to begin thinking of creating small enterprises which produce food, goods, and services for the local market, that is, for our communities and for our city. . . . In order to create these new enterprises, we need a view of our city which takes into consideration both the natural resources of our area and the existing and potential skills and talents of Detroiters.”

That was the vision, and it is only just starting to become a reality. “Now a lot of what you see is vacant lots,” Grace told me. “Most people see only disaster and the end of the world. On the other hand, artists in particular see the potential, the possibility of bringing the country back into the city, which is what we really need.” After all, the city is rich in open space and—with an official unemployment rate in the mid-teens—people with time on their hands. The land is fertile, too, and the visionaries are there.

In traversing Detroit, I saw a lot of signs that a greening was well under way, a sort of urban husbandry of the city’s already occurring return to nature. I heard the story of one old woman who had been the first African-American person on her block and is now, with her grandson, very nearly the last person of any race on that block. Having a city grow up around you is not an uncommon American experience, but having the countryside return is an eerier one. She made the best of it, though. The city sold her the surrounding lots for next to nothing, and she now raises much of her own food on them.

I also saw the lush three-acre Earth Works Garden, launched by Capuchin monks in 1999 and now growing organic produce for a local soup kitchen. I saw a 4-H garden in a fairly ravaged east-side neighborhood, and amid the utter abandonment of the west side, I saw the handsome tiled buildings of the Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women, a school for teenage mothers that opens on to a working farm, complete with apple orchard, horses, ducks, long rows of cauliflower and broccoli, and a red barn the girls built themselves. I met Ashley Atkinson, the young project manager for The Greening of Detroit, and heard about the hundred community gardens they support, and the thousands more food gardens that are not part of any network. The food they produce, Atkinson told me, provides food security for many Detroiters. “Urban farming, dollar for dollar, is the most effective change agent you can ever have in a community,” she said. Everywhere I went, I saw the rich soil of Detroit and the hard work of the gardeners bringing forth an abundant harvest any organic farmer would envy.

Everyone talks about green cities now, but the concrete results in affluent cities mostly involve curbside composting and tacking solar panels onto rooftops while residents continue to drive, to shop, to eat organic pears flown in from Argentina, to be part of the big machine of consumption and climate change. The free-range chickens and Priuses are great, but they alone aren’t adequate tools for creating a truly different society and ecology. The future, at least the sustainable one, the one in which we will survive, isn’t going to be invented by people who are happily surrendering selective bits and pieces of environmentally unsound privilege. It’s going to be made by those who had all that taken away from them or never had it in the first place.

After the Panic of 1893, Detroit’s left-wing Republican mayor encouraged his hungry citizens to plant vegetables in the city’s vacant lots and went down in history as Potato Patch Pingree. Something similar happened in Cuba when the Soviet Union collapsed and the island lost its subsidized oil and thereby its mechanized agriculture; through garden-scale semi-organic agriculture, Cubans clawed their way back to food security and got better food in the bargain. Nobody wants to live through a depression, and it is unfair, or at least deeply ironic, that black people in Detroit are being forced to undertake an experiment in utopian post-urbanism that appears to be uncomfortably similar to the sharecropping past their parents and grandparents sought to escape. There is no moral reason why they should do and be better than the rest of us—but there is a practical one. They have to. Detroit is where change is most urgent and therefore most viable. The rest of us will get there later, when necessity drives us too, and by that time Detroit may be the shining example we can look to, the post-industrial green city that was once the steel-gray capital of Fordist manufacturing.

Detroit is still beautiful, both in its stately decay and in its growing natural abundance. Indeed, one of the finest sights I saw on my walks around the city combined the two. It was a sudden flash on an already bright autumn day—a pair of wild pheasants, bursting from a lush row of vegetables and flying over a cyclone fence toward a burned-out building across the street. It was an improbable flight in many ways. Those pheasants, after all, were no more native to Detroit than are the trees of heaven growing in the skyscrapers downtown. And yet it is here, where European settlement began in the region, that we may be seeing the first signs of an unsettling of the very premises of colonial expansion, an unsettling that may bring a complex new human and natural ecology into being.

This is the most extreme and long-term hope Detroit offers us: the hope that we can reclaim what we paved over and poisoned, that nature will not punish us, that it will welcome us home—not with the landscape that was here when we arrived, perhaps, but with land that is alive, lush, and varied all the same. “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” was Shelley’s pivotal command in his portrait of magnificent ruins, but Detroit is far from a “shattered visage.” It is a harsh place of poverty, deprivation, and a fair amount of crime, but it is ?also a stronghold of possibility.

That Rivera mural, for instance. In 1932 the soil, the country, the wilderness, and agriculture represented the past; they should have appeared, if at all, below or behind the symbols of industry and urbanism, a prehistory from which the gleaming machine future emerged. But the big panels of workers inside the gray chasms of the River Rouge plant have above them huge nude figures—black, white, red, yellow, lounging on the bare earth. Rivera meant these figures to be emblematic of the North American races and meant their fistfuls of coal, sand, iron ore, and limestone to be the raw stuff of industrialism. To my eye, though, they look like deities waiting to reclaim the world, insistent on sensual contact with the land and confident of their triumph over and after the factory that lies below them like an inferno.

Posted 01.09.12 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Essay: Jerry Herron

The Forgetting Machine: Notes Toward a History of Detroit

David Barr and Sergio DeGiusti, Transcending
David Barr and Sergio DeGiusti, Transcending, Hart Plaza, Detroit, 2003. [Photo by Flickr user kiddharma]

Decline and Fall
The classic text on ruins is Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, completed during the last decades of the 18th century, when the English were cultivating a special interest in historical empires that their own advancing empire might yet surpass — a compensatory preoccupation brought on by the recent loss of the American colonies. Toward the end of his massive opus, Gibbon contemplates what it would have been like to “discover” Rome in that late medieval moment when the great metropolis was first appreciated as a ruin. Here, in a passage of vicarious self-reflection, he imagines the 14th-century poet Petrarch encountering the city:

When Petrarch first gratified his eyes with a view of those monuments whose scattered fragments so far surpass the most eloquent descriptions, he was astonished at the supine indifference of the Romans themselves; he was humbled rather than elated by the discovery that … a stranger of the Rhône [i.e., Petrarch himself] was more conversant with these antiquities than the nobles and natives of the metropolis. [1]

It might seem self-aggrandizing to say that the post-industrial and post-millennial metropolis of Detroit works in much the same way; but it does. I can think of no other American city that feels at once familiar historically, and also alien. Familiar because this is the place where the life we all live — cars, strip malls, shopping centers, freeways, exurbia — was invented; alien because nobody here seems bothered that so many recognizable signs of wealth and culture — things that really matter elsewhere — have been so thoroughly abandoned, as if they had suddenly lost all meaning.

I feel like Gibbon’s Petrarch, then: astonished at the seeming indifference of the local citizenry to Detroit’s monumental fragments, humbled at the discovery that after 30 years in the city I seem to know more about its crumbling relics than the natives do — many of them, at least. But these are not ruins from some distant age; they are distinctly mine; and I find it hard to recover Gibbon’s hearty self-satisfaction at the “supine indifference” of Roman natives. Here in Detroit, the city has been ruined by the same people who still inhabit it. So the question is, who understands better what the place really means: the person who tries to remember it, or the one who lets it go?

Detroit Publishing Company, “Looking Up Woodward Avenue,” ca. 1917. [via Shorpy]

Capital of the 20th Century
There is no culture — for lack of a better word — no context of public memory and social expectation that would bind together all that the city contains. What does it add up to, all this abandonment of lives and buildings, neighborhoods and property? It doesn’t seem to add up to anything, other than the decontextualized spectacle itself and the demographic souvenir-hunting opportunities it provides. This city is never coming back; whatever happens next will be without urban precedent because the context of city no longer applies in this place where history has finally run out. And so the reason we come to Detroit — immigrants, tourists, artists, journalists alike — is to engage a fantasy about how we can always walk away from the past, from the now blown promise of an erstwhile prosperity that was once made real for generations of Americans. There’s probably not a better place in this country, maybe in the world, for this kind of work.

Consider a recent issue of Harper’s, which features an image and excerpt, titled “Eulogy: Nobody’s Detroit,” from one of the latest limited-edition exercises in dystopia, Detroit Disassembled, a collection of photographs by Andrew Moore with an introduction by the Detroit-born Philip Levine, now poet laureate of these United States. I find myself thinking of Marx on Hegel, his famous statement that “all great world-historical facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice … the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” [2] A tragedy of world-historical proportions has occurred here in Detroit; and now it is being reproduced, in personal anecdotes and news stories, in books and films, and above all in those now clichéd photographs of rot, dereliction and decay. All of which is perhaps not exactly farce (although there is surely something farcical about the putative bravery of all those on-site observers and their sententious discoveries: I’m so bad, I party in Detroit! the images seem to say, just like the slogan from one of my favorite t-shirts). Instead of farce, our historic tragedy is being turned into art; which is precisely why the ex-pat poet has been coaxed into talking about photographs of a city he hasn’t lived in for more than half a century. But I’ll give him this much; in his introduction to Detroit Disassembled, Levine gets one thing exactly right:

What we see taking place in [these] photographs is no doubt happening everywhere, but it would appear that in Detroit the process has such extraordinary velocity it seems to have stepped out of time to become the sole condition of being.

Images stepped out of time, that’s what turns tragedy into art. The poet continues:

These photographs are among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen: their calm in the face of the ravages of man and nature confer an unexpected dignity upon the subjects of his camera, the very dignity I had assumed daily life had robbed them of. [3]

So things once tragic become beautiful — images for artistic appreciation — with the ravages of daily life being redeemed by photographic dignity. That’s what art can do: it transforms this Everyman’s catastrophe into “Nobody’s Detroit,” as the Harper’s subtitle puts it — an object for aesthetic contemplation, like the Grand Canyon or a summer sunset.

 2. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit
Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit (Steidl, 2011), featuring Michigan Central Station. [Photo of book cover by Justin Rowe]

The latest big books on Detroit — not just Moore’s Detroit Disassembled but also Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit — are pricey ($50 and $125 respectively, with Moore’s book available in its special limited edition for $750); they are also the products of collaborations with art institutions, which is perhaps more indicative of the transformation now underway. The photographs from The Ruins of Detroit were exhibited at the Gun Gallery in Stockholm, among other venues; Detroit Disassembled was the subject of an exhibition at the Akron Art Museum. I saw the Akron show, and it was truly amazing, transformative even. Moore’s images were blown up to old masters’ scale, mounted and lit as if we were being presented with the canvases of Rembrandt or Velasquez. Moore uses a large-format camera, and he stalks the usual “ruin porn” [4] sites — abandoned theaters and churches and schools, derelict houses, collapsed industrial buildings — but never have I seen work quite like this, whether in his book, or on the museum walls. “I’m not just photographing derelict buildings,” Moore told an interviewer from the Detroit News, “I’m looking for beauty and their poetic, or metaphorical, meaning.” [5] I’d say that just about sums things up.

And that’s where the crucial transformation happens, with the museum conferring the status of art upon work that might otherwise be construed as photo-journalistic documentary. John Berger has referred to this process as “mystification.”

Fear of the present leads to mystification of the past. The past is not for living in; it is a well of conclusions from which we draw in order to act. Cultural mystification of the past entails a double loss. Works of art are made unnecessarily remote. And the past offers us fewer conclusions to complete in action. [6]

That is precisely the point of Moore’s work — to mystify into “poetic” inconsequence and remoteness the past that is represented by Detroit, and along with it the conclusions we might draw as a result. Those otherwise troubling conclusions, and the actions that might follow from them — actions undertaken in the name of shared responsibility — are now translated into matters of taste and technique. A sense of “bogus religiosity,” to use another of Berger’s terms, pervades the images; action is foreclosed, except for the connoisseur-like contemplations of the solitary spectator, who is freed to look at the worst, without any necessity of further exertion. The “naked” facts of Detroit, in all their frightening and accusatory detail, are turned into museum-piece “nudes,” spot-lit on the gallery walls; they’re titillating perhaps, but also unreal, just like a centerfold image is unreal; and the more gorgeous, the better. [7]

Andrew Moore, Detroit Disassembled
Andrew Moore, Detroit Disassembled, at the Akron Art Museum, 2010. [Exhibition postcard]

The same can be said for The Ruins of Detroit, a compilation of large-format photographs taken by Marchand and Meffre, who were associated with the team of reporters from Time magazine that spent a well-publicized year in Detroit. [8] This is a heavy piece of work, in every sense, weighing in at almost seven pounds — at least according to my bathroom scale — and containing enough gloomy images to turn the most ebullient booster into a post-apocalyptic nihilist. There’s an appropriate introduction by historian Thomas Sugrue — author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis [9] — outlining the relevant facts about the city’s industrial decline. As Marchand and Meffre write: “True ‘capital of the twentieth century,’ Detroit has literally created, produced and manufactured our modern world, creating a logic that has eventually annihilated, destroyed the city itself.” These guys get it, I thought.

But then I started looking at the photographs, which so completely contradict the insight of that opening statement. The images fail to capture the complex logic that links creation and destruction necessarily together — in Detroit and in America. Marchand and Meffre reduce everything they encounter to a dead zone of already-seen sights; they deploy a visual idiom that has all the wit and insight of a post-mortem Polaroid, with the same dismal color palette, and the now-to-be expected prohibition against any human being ever entering the frame. Why have these photographers settled for so much less than their own introductory statement might lead you to expect? Perhaps the cliché-propagating idiom of ruin porn is so powerful that it simply takes over, duping otherwise intelligent artists into a tedious banality that not even the volume’s pretentious scale and price can conceal.

“We don’t sell ink here anymore”
At so many now-familiar ruins — the Michigan Central Station, the Packard Motors Plant and Fisher Body Plant No. 21, the jazz-age United Artists Theater, the American Hotel, the Grande Ballroom, the Lee Plaza Hotel, the Vanity Ballroom, the Metropolitan Building, the libraries and schools and churches, etc. etc. — the photogenic decline and fall of the Michigan Empire has been captured by countless observers. Less well known — perhaps because less represented in the archives of ruin porn — but no less monumental in scale and consequence, is the now-demolished headquarters of the J. L. Hudson Company. Joseph Lowthian Hudson was an immigrant from Newcastle-upon-Tyne who became Detroit’s premier upscale retailer in the early 20th century. Hudson’s flagship department store, located at the center of Detroit, on Woodward Avenue, was among the largest in the country — 28 stories, plus four basements, comprising 2.2 million square feet of interior floor space. Completed in stages between 1924 and 1929 under the architectural supervision of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, the store had 5,000 windows, 700 dressing rooms and 50 passenger elevators, each with its own white-gloved attendant. At its height in the 1950s, Hudson’s employed a staff of 12,000. Only Macy’s in New York City was bigger.

J.L. Hudson Building
Left: J.L Hudson Building, Detroit. [From postcard, ca. 1951] Right: Woodward Avenue, Detroit, in 1925. [Courtesy of the Library of Congress]

The building was no architectural masterwork; it expanded piecemeal over the years, annexing adjacent structures into an ungainly agglomeration clad in dull red brick. When it comes to commercial signifying, Hudson’s lacked the grandeur and pretension of early 20th-century retail palaces like Marshall Field’s or John Wanamakers or B. Altman and Co. For all its attempts at elegance, the classical flourishes and Beaux Arts details, Hudson’s was an efficient and practical undertaking — much like Detroit itself — a machine for making money, which it did, for over half a century, with sales peaking in 1954 at $155 million ($1.26 billion in 2011 dollars). At which point the J.L. Hudson Company, like other retailers, began developing suburban alternatives to its emporium on Woodward Avenue.

In the first decades of the new millennium it seems clear that the best years of our American lives were precisely when the mechanisms for abandoning our cities were being put in place. The boom years that followed World War II saw the construction of the Interstate highway system, the promotion of suburban single-family housing construction by the Federal Housing Administration, the dispersal of services, commerce, entertainment and eventually jobs to the ever-expanding exurban ring. And it all seemed to happen so rapidly, the result of convergent forces operating so efficiently you’d think there was some kind of deep design at the bottom of things. After a half-century of cultural and economic dominance, Hudson’s, and downtown Detroit along with it, plunged into sharp decline. By the time the flagship store was closed, in January 1983, the company had been reduced to a chain of suburban mall clones, owned since the late ’60s by the Dayton Company, of Minneapolis, all traces of local origin to be erased by corporate ersatz.

Hudson's Department StoreInterior of Hudson’s. [Vintage postcard, date unknown]

People in Detroit still talk about Hudson’s as a retail institution, but they give little thought to the actual old building, which became a gutted, vandalized wreck, and no less irrelevant than Michigan Central Station. Both are rightly understood as monuments for a disappeared history: the train station because nobody here seems to bother much about the ruin that still remains; Hudson’s because everybody claims to remember so fondly the building that’s no longer there. But what people remember is not exactly historical reality; instead, the memory of Hudson’s has become a kind of screen upon which we can replay an idealized past — a past without any of the problems that made the utopian promise of suburbia seem worth abandoning the city to fulfill. Consider one of the customer reviews, on Amazon, for a recent photo collection, Hudson’s: Detroit’s Legendary Department Store:

Anyone who shopped in Detroit’s once bustling downtown Woodward corridor should have this book. Starting in the 1930s my grandmother would take the bus downtown at least once a week to shop at Hudson’s and the surrounding stores. As a young girl in the mid 1960s, I occasionally traveled with her and some of my earliest and fondest memories are of wandering around the upper 12 floors and two basement levels of merchandise. You would drop your coats off on the forth [sic] floor, have lunch on the mezzanine or perhaps the basement cafeteria, shop all afternoon, catch an early dinner at the Riverview room on the 13th floor and then head home with your purchases shipped to your home within a day or two. It was truly an experience that no mall today can come close to. … I cried the day the store was demolished and I am sure that Grandma was rolling in her grave. [10]

The review is titled “Memories of a true shopping experience!” Nostalgia, of course, is just a higher form of forgetting. Hudson’s failed because it ceased to attract shoppers; Grandma notwithstanding, the customers were at the mall.

My first visit to Hudson’s was in 1982, soon after I’d accepted a job in Detroit. I arrived by plane from New York City, rented a car at Metro Airport, and drove downtown to look for a place to live. I settled on an apartment on Washington Boulevard, and the building manager informed me enthusiastically that we were just around the corner from Hudson’s! So I walked over to take a look. I found a forlorn place that could have been the stage set for a period movie, all the elements of commercial presumption intact, though threadbare. What was missing was the cast; on the higher floors, I seemed to be walking through the aisles alone. In the stationery department, I looked at fountain pens, some costing hundreds of dollars. I thought I would buy a bottle of ink, my own pen having gone dry. “We don’t sell ink here any more,” the exquisitely polite clerk explained.

And the story was pretty much the same in all the last-vestige establishments I would visit in my early years in Detroit: restaurants and movie palaces, clubs and exclusive men’s stores. The apparatus of city life was there, but none of it was fully operational — like those expensive fountain pens that nobody was expected to buy, so that ink had become superfluous. What had once been a viable, commercial downtown — “bustling,” as the Amazon customer remembered — had tuned into something else entirely, something spectral and forlorn.

Hudson's Department Store
Illustration of Hudson’s departments in LIFE, December 1958. [via The Department Store Museum]

“A city within itself” is how many of the early 20th-century department stores were described, and the comparison is apt. Hudson’s, at its height in the mid-1950s, served 100,000 customers per day; the store boasted its own telephone exchange, with the third largest switchboard in the United States, exceeded in size only by the Pentagon and the Bell System. [11] And like the city, Hudson’s had a necessary purpose — to teach people how to live in society. J. L. Hudson ascribed to a calling higher than mere commerce, and he communicated this in “The Hudson’s Creed,” which his employees were expected to espouse:

My faith is not alone a faith in the store, the organization — it’s a faith in the ideals of men, those who are responsible for this great house of industry. And so I stand, inspired with the blazing truth that I am taking an active part in building, through honest effort, one of the greatest institutions in this broad country — Hudson’s Detroit. [12]

The great department stores, and their owners, came naturally by the evangelizing mission. The making of shoppers, like the making of citizens, was an essential function of both store and city, especially the city of middle-class arrivals made possible by the flourishing of modern industry. In Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class, Jan Whitaker observes:

No longer primarily a purveyor of basic necessities, and by now a venerable and trusted establishment in a rapidly changing society, [the department store] took on a larger role as arbiter of middle-class taste and lifestyles. From the 1920s into the 1960s, stores exercised an almost moral authority to define in material terms what it was to live as a middle-class American. They poured creative energy into encouraging Americans to “trade up,” to demand a higher standard of living. Marshaling their enormous promotional resources, they expanded their entertainment and educative roles. They broadened services, upgraded buildings. They emphasized style as never before. In short, department stores deployed their skills in interpreting and managing the symbolic significance of the goods they sold. [13]

The mission of the department stores, with their encyclopedic arrays of “departments” (Hudson’s had 200), was city-like: their goal was to teach people how to be together in an unprecedented condition of plenty and upward striving. The well-articulated “stories” of the great emporia told a compelling narrative of desire, with an infrastructure that mirrored the cities they proudly represented. But the pedagogy of these grand establishments had a perhaps unanticipated outcome. In Detroit, J.L. Hudson’s taught its lessons so effectively that citizen-shoppers quickly graduated and were ready to set out for the suburban malls, effectively forgetting how to remember that they had ever needed the department store — or the city — to send them on their way.

J.L. Hudson Building site
Hudson’s site in 2008, a vacant lot above an underground parking structure. [Photo by Flickr user gab482]

In 1996, a newly elected city government identified as one of its first objectives the demolition of the abandoned and vandalized Hudson’s on Woodward Avenue. If anything different was ever to happen downtown, the feeling was, that place had to go. As soon as the decision was announced, the nostalgia industry shifted into overdrive. The Detroit Historical Museum mounted a semi-permanent display of Hudson’s memorabilia; a documentary aired repeatedly on local public television. The city newspapers created special series dedicated to reminiscences about Hudson’s (they were already running weekly columns focused on recollections of bygone neighborhoods and vintage cars). And in a surprising twist, the company hired to demolish Hudson’s pioneered a new and distinctively American form of urban archaeology. Because of the building’s age, and because no accurate architectural plans existed of the five structures and thirteen construction types incorporated in Hudson’s expansion over the decades, the demolition team determined that a thorough excavation was required — not to preserve the past, but to destroy it completely, in the most rational and efficient way possible. So one evening in October 1998, the mayor of Detroit pushed the button that set off the explosive charges, and Hudson’s, once the tallest department store in America, became the tallest building ever to be imploded. The enormous structure collapsed in a vast cloud of dust that enveloped the whole of downtown, darkening the sky in a Pompeiian gloom.

Eternal Return
You can read the history of Detroit as a history of what philosophers have called the eternal return. The Czech novelist Milan Kundera created a masterpiece, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in which he struggles to grasp this phenomenon; he speculates on the loss represented by an understanding of time that is content to abandon — to forget — the past.

Let us therefore agree that the idea of eternal return implies a perspective from which things appear other than as we know them: they appear without the mitigating circumstance of their transitory nature. This mitigating circumstance prevents us from coming to a verdict. For how can we condemn something that is ephemeral, in transit? In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia. … This … reveals the profound moral perversity of a world that rests essentially on the nonexistence of return, for in this world everything is pardoned in advance and therefore everything cynically permitted. [14]

In Detroit there is one place where the eternal return seems especially palpable, and also a little frightening, which is to be expected of a site where the past is undead, where it is neither thematized nostalgically nor banished outright. I’m thinking, of course, of the Michigan Theater, the great jazz age movie palace created by the architects C.W. and George L. Rapp, or what’s left of it these days: the theater was shut in the mid-1970s and partly demolished and gutted and converted into a parking garage. In an earlier essay published in Places, I quoted a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, who exclaimed upon the building’s opening in 1926: “It is beyond the human dreams of loveliness.” I left out the next part of the review: “Entering it, you pass into another world.” [15]

Michigan Theater
Michigan Theater, in 1927 (left) and 2005 (right). [Composite by Geoffrey George]

Entering the Michigan Theater today, you do indeed feel as if you’re passing into another world, as if you’re drifting through the sunken Titanic, or the fanciful dungeons of Piranesi. After the downtown movie palaces went dark in the 1970s and began their inexorable slide into dereliction (which efforts to turn them into blaxploitation venues or X-rated cinemas did little to halt), the Michigan’s owners hacked away at the lobby and main auditorium, installing a parking garage under the proscenium arches in the space that once accommodated 4,000 moviegoers.

But the crude and hasty retrofit left many of the decorative elements intact, allowing the interior, “the heavily carved and ornamented walls,” to decay, along with the tattered velvet curtain that is still hanging, and disintegrating, behind the old proscenium. [16] Plaster fragments and withered carpet strips litter the floors, and daylight filters in through holes punched in the walls, bathing the interior in a half-lit gloom. It’s an extraordinary spectacle — as countless photographers, professionals and amateurs alike, have been quick to realize, and a few filmmakers too, notably the director Curtis Hanson, who set a crucial scene of 8 Mile, with Eminem, in the theater.

The old Michigan Theater is one of the most suggestive sights in the whole city of Detroit: neither an abandoned ruin nor a precious, restored fetish, but a working statement about making do with the past. The tenants of the offices adjacent to the theater threatened to move out unless they were provided with secure parking, so that’s what the landlord improvised out of the otherwise useless auditorium. And that is the genius of the place. One can only marvel at the dramatic parable being enacted by the current occupants — the returnees — who drive in and out of the vast space, past the former ticket booth, brought daily into conversation with the past, and what our desires have made of it: the desire to ride Henry Ford’s cars out of town, onward to a better life that lay, we imagined, beyond the city. But still the city is here, outmoded and abandoned but necessarily returned to, that contradictory fact of life rendered in an architectural colloquy so extraordinary it cannot help but be felt.

The truth I’m trying to present is one about site-specific forgetting. If our history is a history of forgetting how to remember the past, as I am arguing, then the city of Detroit is the engine of our conflicted deliverance. It’s the machinery we’ve used for particular acts of forgetting, each connected to the place and time where the forgetting got done.

Campus Martius at Night, Detroit, Michigan
Detroit Publishing Company, “Campus Martius at Night,” Detroit, ca. 1910. [via Shorpy]

This is a history created by serial default. Nobody really planned the ends — the ruins — of these buildings, any more than they planned Detroit, or America for that matter, despite our dedication to continental-scale projects, beginning with the Declaration of Independence and moving through Manifest Destiny and continuing with the Urban Renewal programs that destroyed America’s cities. We’ve all had a hand in our collective making, and now we’ll have to live with the consequences, not the least of which is our ignorance about the origin of things, so that we stand stupefied or angry or fascinated — camera at the ready —before the monuments to ruination.

But the improvisation of the Michigan Theater is powerful because it doesn’t remove people from the city; on the contrary, it involves them dramatically in the production of their own situation. The ruin of urban space becomes a participatory drama: memory versus forgetting, the city dead or the city alive. The trick is seeing both at once, and comprehending them as equally true and mutually implicated.

Adding a special resonance to the history of the old theater is the fact that it was on this very spot — then 58 Bagley Avenue — where Henry Ford lived when he was a hired workman at the Edison Illuminating Plant, two blocks over, on Washington Boulevard. In the 1890s Ford rented part of a house on the site, along with a shed out back, and right there, in the spring of 1896, he built his first horseless carriage — the “Quadricycle,” he called it. His gasoline-powered contraption turned out to be wider than the door he had to push it through to take a test drive, so to get the machine outside, he was forced to knock out part of a wall. And so you might say that for more than century automobiles have been repeating that originary gesture, returning to the act of demolition that attended their birth. Just look at what they’ve done to the Michigan Theater; and to the rest of Detroit. And what this realization yields — provided it is lived from the inside rather than gawked at from afar — is something much less creepy and off-putting than the aesthetic rot sold in large-format photography books. The Michigan Theater offers a way of thinking about the past that is historically inflected, human-scaled and sustainable and — most improbably — hopeful. What it offers is a new ecology of hope, with the city of Detroit as its monumental basis.

Editors’ Note

This is the first of a new series of essays on Detroit by Jerry Herron that will appear on Places this year. See also Herron’s earlier series on Places, published in the summer of 2010: Borderland/Borderama/Detroit: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.Notes1. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 3 (New York: Washington Square Press, 1972), 1142.2. Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1972), 436.3. See “Eulogy: Nobody’s Detroit,” Harper’s, March 2010, 13-16. See also Andrew Moore, Detroit Disassembled (Akron, OH: Akron Art Museum, 2010), 117.4. “Ruin Porn” is a term coined, maybe, by James Griffioen. See Thomas Morton, Something Something, Something, Detroit, VICE, August 2009. Full disclosure: I want to note my participation in a large-format volume of photographs of Detroit. See Julia Reyes Taubman, Detroit: 138 Square Miles (Detroit: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2011). Here I provided an introductory essay. If ruin porn has an opposite, I’d say Julia Taubman’s photographs are it, many of them populated with humans, just like this heartbreakingly representative city of mine.5. Michael Hodges, “Opportunistic Art,” Detroit News, 1 July 2010, B1.6. John Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin, 1972), 11.7. See Berger’s discussion of “naked” and “nude” in Ways of Seeing, 54-55.8. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit (London: Steidl, 2011).9. Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).10. See Cindy Jamroz, Memories of a true shopping experience!

11. See the website The History of Department Stores.12. Michael Hauser and Marianne Weldon, Hudson’s: Detroit’s Legendary Department Store (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004), 128.13 Jan Whitaker, Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006), 2.14. Milan Kundera, trans. Michael Henry Heim, The Unbearable Lightness of Being,  (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), 4.15. W. Hawkins Ferry, The Buildings of Detroit: A History (Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1968), 324.16. W. Hawkins Ferry, Ibid.

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My husband and I were walking down in the river district and came upon stables that had to have been pre-Civil War. Only in Detroit would structures with such historical provenance be left to crumble. I still carry my Hudson’s charge “plate” (as my mother called it) in my purse. Detroit is a petri dish of what is happening all over the country; the only difference are the huge doses of racism and wealth that make up the agar.
01.10.12 at 11:52
Wondering why there isn’t more mention of Hart Plaza, particularly in regards to its really cool design and architecture. I was there for the electronic music festival last year and was quite impressed at this little hub of creative design in this sadly depressed city. I also heard rumors that Hart Plaza is a vortex point — anyone know about this?Thanks!
color copies
01.10.12 at 03:24
Bravo. Great piece of journalism.
01.12.12 at 05:09
color copies — yes — there is a whole vortex/pyramid thing regarding Hart Plaza. I stumbled across this guy’s website last summer. There is another thoughtthread having to do with the Detroit River forming a vortex, but this guy’s rap on Hart Plaza is something.
01.13.12 at 12:12
Outstanding work. Too often the decline of the city is reduced to a simple theme by a commentator with an ax to grind. Herron shows the problem is very complex. I agree with perspective on nostalgia, one thing left unexplained is how is it that Detroit is so ravaged in comparison to Pittsburgh and even Cleveland, which have experienced similar declines? And if our individualism sews the seeds of Detroit, how is it that other cities have weathered the storm or continue to thrive (NYC, Chicago, Boston)?
01.14.12 at 09:16
Cheryl — where did you encounter the stables?
01.17.12 at 11:11

Stables were at Franklin at Dubois.
01.23.12 at 12:40


By John Patrick Leary
January 15, 2011

What does “ruin porn” tell us about the motor city, ourselves, other American cities?

Marchandmeffre-575.jpg Photograph by Yves Marchan and Romain Meffre courtesy Steidl.

Red Dawn 2, the forthcoming sequel to the nineteen eighties B-movie about a Soviet occupation of America, was shot last year in downtown Detroit. A long-abandoned modernist skyscraper coincidentally undergoing demolition served as a backdrop for battle scenes between American guerrillas and the Communist occupiers, now Chinese. For weeks, Chinese propaganda posters fluttered in the foreground of the half-destroyed office building, whose jagged entrails were visible through the holes opened by the wrecking ball. A pedestrian routinely bumped into Asian-American extras with Michigan accents and fake Kalashnikovs, while a parking garage played the role of a Communist police station. It was an uncanny spectacle: the very real rubble of the Motor City’s industrial economy serving as the movie backdrop for post-industrial America’s paranoid fantasies of national victimization. What made it even weirder was the fact that the film’s producers just left the posters hanging when they packed up. A red-and-yellow poster on that same parking garage assured us for weeks afterward that our new rulers were “here to help.”

“Do you have any books with pictures of abandoned buildings?” demanded a customer of a bookseller friend of mine at Leopold’s Books in Detroit. The man marched to the cash register and abruptly blurted out his question, looking, perhaps, for one of the recent pair of books on Detroit’s industrial ruins and its abandoned homes, Andrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled and Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s forthcoming The Ruins of Detroit. These two books, along with the architectural history Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruins, are part of a small Detroit culture boom over the last year. Besides the new books by Moore and Marchand and Meffre, photographers have chronicled the city’s decaying structures in the likes of, the New York Review of Books online, and Time, which moved a troupe of Detroit bloggers to an old mansion on the city’s east side, an old-fashioned news bureau mixed with a bizarro-Real World social experiment. A new graphic novel, Sword of My Mouth, imagines a band of survivors living in a depopulated Detroit after the Rapture has swept up the righteous, a clever satire of the clichéd description of Detroit’s “post-apocalyptic” landscape and the moralizing that has always bolstered public discussion of the social problems of American cities. And while empty buildings would seem more suited to still rather than moving images, filmmakers like Julien Temple have recently explored industrial ruins in his Detroitsploitation documentary Requiem for Detroit?, while Detroit boosters respond with their own, sunnier films (Johnny Knoxville’s Detroit Lives and Florent Tillon’s Detroit Wild City) about entrepreneurs, artists, and urban farmers amidst the ruins.

Detroiters often react testily to this kind of attention (as I do), even when it is done skillfully and with good intentions, as much of it is. Some of the criticism of negative publicity is just boosterism, as when the City Council denounced the producers of the ABC crime drama Detroit 187 for peddling the idea that there are criminals in Detroit. Others, weary of condescending criticism from outsiders, will defend Detroit’s reputation, or at least their privileged right to defame it, something like defending a bad parent: I can say anything I want about the old man, but don’t you dare. Ruin photography, in particular, has been criticized for its “pornographic” sensationalism, and my bookseller friend won’t sell much of it for that reason. And others roll their eyes at all the positive attention heaped on the young, mostly white “creatives,” which glosses over the city’s deep structural problems and the diversity of ideas to help fix them. So much ruin photography and ruin film aestheticizes poverty without inquiring of its origins, dramatizes spaces but never seeks out the people that inhabit and transform them, and romanticizes isolated acts of resistance without acknowledging the massive political and social forces aligned against the real transformation, and not just stubborn survival, of the city. And to see oneself portrayed in this way, as a curiosity to be lamented or studied, is jarring for any Detroiter, who is of course also an American, with all the sense of self-confidence and native-born privilege that we’re taught to associate with the United States.

The city has been a bellwether of each major urban crisis since World War II.

That some of the recent focus on Detroit ruins is exploitative in its depiction of Detroit’s impoverishment bears repeating, but more compelling are the reasons for our contemporary fascination with images of first-world urban decline, and not just in the Motor City. Ruin websites, photography collections, and urban exploration blogs chronicle industrial ruins across North America and Europe, from Youngstown, Ohio to Bucharest, Romania. Yet Detroit remains the Mecca of urban ruins. Its impressive collection of pre-Depression skyscrapers have been memorably lionized as a “American Acropolis” by Camilo José Vergara, the pioneering photographer of American ghetto landscapes. Buildings that have escaped the wrecking ball have also, for the most part, escaped gentrification, since most of Detroit’s economic elite remain sequestered in the suburbs, with little of the desire for urbanity that one finds among the leisure classes of Chicago, New York, London, or Philadelphia. Nor has the city ever been able to do on any significant scale what Pittsburgh has accomplished with its defunct Homestead steel mill, now a shopping mall, or what New York has done with upscale condos in old warehouses—leverage the hollow shells of a productive economy into the shell games of the credit economy.

For media workers from more prosperous cities, Detroit’s spaces of ruination appear to tell a history, or at least evoke a vague sense of historical pathos, absent in those other, wealthier cities. Indeed, one of the notable features of this Detroit boom is the fact that few of the people driving it actually live here. For someone from New York, Paris, or San Francisco, history seems more visible here, and this is the visual fascination that Detroit holds. As Marchand and Meffre write on their website, “Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.” In a country perennially plagued with a historical amnesia, ruins are rare permanent reminders of a history unsuited to the war memorials and equestrian statues that dot the national landscape. Another reason for the fascination with Detroit’s decline is less about history, though, and more about the future.

Coleman Young, Detroit’s charismatic and still-controversial mayor during the years of the city’s most precipitous decline in the nineteen seventies and eighties, put it well in his fascinating 1994 autobiography, Hard Stuff: “Detroit today,” he wrote, “is your town tomorrow.” From the 1967 riots, when Detroit became the flashpoint of the country’s political and racial crisis, to the deindustrialization and crime of the nineteen seventies and the nineteen eighties, the city has been a bellwether of each major urban crisis since World War II. Today, Detroit, to use an overused but appropriate metaphor given the city’s scarred appearance, is “ground zero” of the collapse of the finance and real estate economy in America. Detroit has been hit as hard as any city by the foreclosure crisis and by unemployment, and so it embodies the looming jobless future, or more precisely, our worst fears about that future.

godleftdetroit-575.jpgPhotograph by Andrew Moore courtesy DAP.

The Three Detroit Stories: The Metonym

Every week, it seems, brings another “Detroit Story” somewhere in the popular media: of laid-off auto workers, of the recently bankrupt auto corporations, tributes to hardy inner-city entrepreneurs, and more pictures of abandoned buildings. There are three principal conventions of Detroit writing in the major media. First, and most common, is the one that has the least to do with the city itself: the Metonym. In auto industry reporting, “Detroit” is a textbook example of metonymy, the trope in which a complex thing is replaced by a simpler, easily recognized equivalent: “10 Downing Street” for the British government, “Wall Street” for high finance, “Silicon Valley” for computer hardware, and so on. The substitution of “Detroit” for the auto industry bears within it an implicit, bitter irony, however, since the name of the city stands in for an industry that has largely abandoned it. “Detroit” can hold other, subtler meanings, too. For liberals, like George Monbiot in the Guardian newspaper, “Detroit” equals dirty industry and corporate welfare. His headline “Let Detroit die,” from a 2009 article that denounced the U.S. government’s loans to the Big Three automakers, sounded a bit callous if you happen to live or work here, and are therefore more often the victim rather than the beneficiary of pollution or corporate welfare. For rightists, “Detroit” also connotes unions and other bogeymen of urban Democratic politics. Thus, the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer warned of “lemon socialism” once “the government owns Detroit,” a possibility almost as improbable in the literal sense as the People’s Liberation Army on Woodward Avenue.

The Detroit Lament

The second style of Detroit reportage I would term the Detroit Lament. The Lament turns from the purely rhetorical use of Detroit as metonym for something else to a more visceral depiction of the city’s scarred landscape, and occasionally, though only occasionally, its residents. The Lament is typically mournful in tone—elegiac at best and sanctimonious at worst. Because the Lament is thematically preoccupied with loss, of people, of buildings, of the always ill-defined “way of life” said to be nurtured by the old automotive economy and union wages, its primary subject is spatial: the empty lots, the derelict buildings, the overwhelming vastness of a city mutilated by freeways and marked by more vacant land than it can ever plausibly develop. For this reason, the Lament lends itself to the visual media, and for their elegiac emphasis on loss and decline we can classify Detroit Disassembled and The Ruins of Detroit in this category. The Lament signals a fascination with what seems to be all that we have of our twentieth-century history (at least besides those war memorials): the brick-and-steel spectacles of the industrial age, out of which some explanation could be found for the present desperate predicament of urban America.

Detroit remains the Mecca of urban ruins.

The Ruins of Detroit and Detroit Disassembled are products of a collaboration. The photographers are friends, and Moore was introduced to the city by the two Parisians Marchand and Meffre. They often take pictures of the same abandoned buildings, even the same rooms, sometimes from the same angles, showing how conventional and well-trod Detroit ruin photography has become, despite its pioneering posture and the real danger of some of these decrepit structures.

Moore’s pictures in Detroit Disassembled play heavily on a pervasive, uneasy sense of quietude. His photos of interior spaces and exterior architectural shots are similarly uncluttered by superfluous details, and the emptiness creates the eerie effect of evoking the absent people who once inhabited the offices and classrooms he depicts. One expects an urban ruin to be filled with debris and destruction, yet some of these rooms, like an empty nineteen-nineties corporate meeting room or an upended office, look as if the occupants only just left in a great hurry, knocking over chairs to flee an impending disaster that never arrived. The sparseness of his photographs is sometimes comically banal, as in the old dentist’s office frozen in time, and sometimes macabre, as in his picture of the rusting hulk of the Bob-Lo island ferry at sunrise. His captions offer only the most superficial details about the buildings depicted or the rare individuals who appear, which on the one hand suggests a lack of interest in these places in their own right. On the other hand, the evacuation of context from the photos gives them the uncanny feeling of a place you might have been before in some other time or place—and if you’ve ever been inside a corporate office, a Catholic school classroom, or a dentist’s office anywhere in America in the last thirty years, you have. Some of Moore’s photos evoke Young’s old dictum as a warning from the urban future—“Detroit,” a picture of a vacant offices whispers, “coming to your town soon.”

But other photos tend towards overwrought melodrama, like the photograph of an abandoned nursing home tagged with a spray-painted slogan, “God Has Left Detroit.” Moore leans on the compositional tactic of ironic juxtaposition, an old standby of documentary city photography since at least the days of Robert Frank and Helen Levitt. In one photograph (repeated in Marchand and Meffre’s collection) of the East Grand Boulevard Methodist church, its Biblical invocation, “And you shall say that God did it,” looms above its sanctuary. The irony is obvious, heavy-handedly so, yet the photographer’s meaning is less clear. One feels obliged to raise the obvious defense of the Almighty here: If anyone or anything “did it,” General Motors and the Detroit City Council had a hell of a lot more to do with it than God did. And who said God was ever here in the first place?

But of course, no photograph can adequately identify the origins for Detroit’s contemporary ruination; all it can represent is the spectacular wreckage left behind in the present, after decades of deindustrialization, housing discrimination, suburbanization, drug violence, municipal corruption and incompetence, highway construction, and other forms of urban renewal have taken their terrible tolls. Indeed, what is most unsettling—but also most troubling—in Moore’s photos is their resistance to any narrative content or explication. Moore’s shot of a grove of birch trees growing out of rotting books in a warehouse might be a sign of Detroit’s stubborn persistence, as the Detroit poet Philip Levine argues a bit too optimistically in his accompanying essay, but it could easily be a visual joke on the city’s supposed intellectual and physical decrepitude, a bad joke that does not need repeating. One often finds oneself asking of Detroit Disassmbled, The Ruins of Detroit, and indeed all ruin photographs, first, “What happened?” followed swiftly by, “What’s your point?” This comes partly from the awkwardness of the photographers’ aestheticism and postmodern detachment, which jars with the social violence of the history being depicted, and it’s partly down to their lack of interest in the human inhabitants of the city. But it’s a bit more than that.

These photos of uninhabited ruined spaces do little more than confirm what the most casual observer already knows about Detroit and cities like it. Moore is sensitive to this danger, and does includes a few photos that represent Detroiters leading lives amidst the ruins. Besides two portraits of Detroiters at home, Moore also includes a photo of a rooftop party by twenty-something white urban explorers, a self-conscious reflection, perhaps, on his own access to these spaces and on the well-beaten paths of ruin fetishists. Vergara, the Chilean-born photographer whose photographs of Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Camden, and New York are collected in The New American Ghetto, addresses the ahistorical failing of much ruin photography by investing much more heavily in the ruins: Revisiting the same site over a period of years, or even decades, Vergara’s pictures show with often heartbreaking clarity the slow, painful transformation of a house, a street, a neighborhood. And Austin and Doerr’s Lost Detroit combines ruin photography with architectural history, seeking to fill in the historical gaps. The ruin photos in Detroit Disassembled and The Ruins of Detroit, despite the authors’ obvious reverence for their brick-and-steel subjects, are also spectacles of degradation, in which, as Frederic Jameson writes about the postmodern condition, our “putative past is little more than a set of dusty spectacles.” In requisitioning the ruin’s aura of historical pathos, ruin photos suggest a vanquished, even glorious past but, like the ruins themselves, present no way to understand our own relationship to the decline we are seeing. After all, this is not Rome or Greece, vanished civilizations; these ruins are our own, and the society they indict is ours as well. As a purely aesthetic object, even with the best intentions, ruin photography cannot help but exploit a city’s misery; but as political documents on their own, they have little new to tell us.

Some of these rooms look as if the occupants only just left in a great hurry, knocking over chairs to flee an impending disaster that never arrived.

The British filmmaker Julien Temple’s documentary, Requiem for Detroit?, and his accompanying Guardian essay, “Detroit: The Last Days,” are the quintessence of the Detroit Lament. “Approaching the derelict shell of downtown Detroit,” Temple breathlessly writes, “we see full-grown trees sprouting from the tops of deserted skyscrapers.

“In their shadows, the glazed eyes of the street zombies slide into view, stumbling in front of the car. Our excitement at driving into what feels like a man-made hurricane Katrina is matched only by sheer disbelief that what was once the fourth-largest city in the U.S. could actually be in the process of disappearing from the face of the earth.”

This is the style denounced locally as “ruin porn.” All the elements are here: the exuberant connoisseurship of dereliction; the unembarrassed rejoicing at the “excitement” of it all, hastily balanced by the liberal posturing of sympathy for a “man-made Katrina;” and most importantly, the absence of people other than those he calls, cruelly, “street zombies.” The city is a shell, and so are the people who occasionally stumble into the photographer’s viewfinder.

parkingdetroit-575.jpgPhotograph by Andrew Moore courtesy DAP.

The Lamenter is both a very contemporary phenomenon and one of American literature’s oldest urban types. Over a hundred years ago, Jacob Riis wandered into the slums of downtown New York with a police escort, a flash camera, and a mission to document and improve the city’s “other half.” The Detroit Lamenter adopts a similar posture, although with less of Riis’s sense of moral purpose. How could the national conscience tolerate such misery, Riis asked, in the midst of ever-increasing abundance? And how is this possible, Temple’s film repeatedly asks, in a first-world country that put the world on wheels? What makes this subgenre of urban expose particularly contemporary, though, is the historical and economic phenomenon it struggles to represent, a phenomenon the newness of which few of us can adequately comprehend. Just as for Riis the teeming industry of the turn of the century created new spaces, like the urban factory and tenement, and therefore a new people, the shrinking cities of the first world are the equivalent new “problem” spaces of the twenty-first-century urban world. Across the global north, city-dwellers flee job-scarce shrinking cities, leaving behind an urban economy increasingly cut out of the national economy. Some estimates, for example, place real unemployment in Detroit at a staggering 50 percent. The third-world megaslum—cities like Mexico City and Jakarta, with populations close to twenty million inhabitants—and the first-world shrinking city look increasingly like the true cities of tomorrow. Yet the teeming cities of the global south seem like the least shocking of the two, since we expect that cities be crowded, dirty, busy, and always growing. The shrinking city, on the other hand, defies much of what we think we know about cities and their development, at least as long as “growth” and “development” are the only measures of vitality.

Detroit Utopia

The third major subgenre of the popular Detroit narrative is a backlash against the pornographic excesses of the Lament and is, at best, an attempt to find a new definition of urban vitality. The Utopians are well-meaning defenders of the city’s possibilities. Locally, they are often politically active, often young, and, it should be noted, often white. This class of Detroit story chronicles Detroit’s possibilities, with a heavy emphasis on art and urban agriculture on abandoned land. It can also take the form of human-interest stories about local entrepreneurs persevering amidst the destruction. Toby Barlow’s series of New York Times articles on bicycling and one-hundred-dollar houses in the city anticipated a gentrification-fuelled Detroit Renaissance that most honest observers must admit will never come. (If Detroit is really so full of possibilities, why do so many of the possibilities so closely resemble a cut-rate version of what western Brooklyn already looks like?) Despite their differences, the common problem with many of the Lamenters and Utopians is that both see Detroit as an exception to the contemporary United States, rather than as one of its exemplary places. Detroit figures as either a nightmare image of the American Dream, where equal opportunity and abundance came to die, or as an updated version of it, where bohemians from expensive coastal cities can have the one-hundred-dollar house and community garden of their dreams.

An imposing, neoclassical behemoth even in life, the windowless station has become a melancholy symbol of the city’s transformation in death.

The city fascinates because it is a condensed, emphatic example of the trials of so many American cities in an era of globalization, which has brought with it intensified economic instability and seemingly intractable joblessness. Detroit is also iconic, intimately familiar to generations of Americans who associate R&B music, automobiles, and the modernist skyscraper with urbanity itself, and yet the decline depicted in ruin photos is frightening and at times grotesque. While unique in its scale, however, Detroit’s entrenched infrastructural and economic problems are themselves as American as apple pie, reproduced on varying scales in Newark, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Camden. Detroit, then, isn’t an exception to a general rule of class mobility and meritocracy, the pillars of the so-called “American Dream,” as it’s often seen.

It’s a clear example of how that term, these days at least, increasingly looks like an optimistic delusion—and maybe it always was.

youarehere-575.jpgPhotograph by Yves Marchan and Romain Meffre courtesy Steidl.

In viewing Detroit Disassembled and The Ruins of Detroit, one is conscious of nothing so much as failure—of the city itself, of course, but also of the photographs to communicate anything more than that self-evident fact. This is the meta-irony of these often ironic pictures: Though they trade on the peculiarity of Detroit as living ruin, these are pictures of historical oblivion. The decontextualized aesthetics of ruin make them pictures of nothing and no place in particular. Detroit in these artists’ work is, likewise, a mass of unique details that fails to tell a complete story. Both books include a picture of a melting clock in the shuttered and soon-to-be-demolished Cass Tech High School; the clock is emblazoned ironically with the brand name “National Time,” inviting clucks of recognition from Salvador Dalí fans and armchair allegorists. Michigan Central Station on the city’s west side is an abandoned depot from the golden age of rail travel, designed by the architectural firm that produced New York’s Grand Central Station. The station is the Eiffel Tower of ruin photography and probably Detroit’s most recognizable modern monument other than the downtown Renaissance Center complex, as shown by the hobbyist and professional photographers who descend upon it on every sunny day.

An imposing, neoclassical behemoth even in life, the windowless station has become a melancholy symbol of the city’s transformation in death. Moore and Marchand/Meffre both treat the depot, appropriately, as a monument as much as a ruin. In Marchand and Meffre’s exterior photograph, the station fills the frame; there is no outside to this massive structure, no escaping its gaping windows and shattered glass, or the overcast daylight that lends the scene a grey, deathly pallor. Moore takes a subtly different approach, photographing the station as afternoon sunlight bathes one side of the building in shadow, while a tiny figure in red ambles brightly across a thin ribbon of parkland at the bottom of the frame. The figure is dwarfed by the massive station, and if it weren’t for his shirt, we probably wouldn’t see him at all. Similarly, it takes a careful observer to note, amid the wall of broken windows and grey brick, the “SAVE THE DEPOT” graffiti painted by defenders of the station, which is criminally neglected by its slumlord owner and periodically threatened with demolition by grandstanding politicians. If you look close enough, there is life here.

Michigan Central Station appears to be a potent symbol of decline and the inevitable cycles of capitalist booms and busts. But there’s also money to be made on destruction. The decrepit station has been owned for years by the city’s most notorious real estate mogul, Matty Moroun, a politically-connected, Teflon-coated trucking magnate who owns the bridge to Canada and covets land near the city’s major transportation hubs. Alas, a photograph can tell us little about the city’s real estate industry and the state’s cheaply-bought politicians. All it can do is show the catastrophic results. Taken together, all the images of the ruined city become fragments of stories told so often about Detroit that they are at the same time instantly familiar and utterly vague, like a dimly remembered episode from childhood or a vivid dream whose storyline we can’t quite remember in the morning: Murder city! Unemployment! Drugs! White flight! Crime! Because the ironic appeal of modern ruins lies in the archaeological fantasy of discovery combined with the banality of what is discovered—a nineteen-eighties dentist’s office is not implicitly fascinating for anyone who inhabited one in its intact state—a ruin photograph succeeds in providing the details of a familiar story whose major plot points we can’t piece together.

Photographs like Moore, Marchand, and Meffre’s succeed, at least, in compelling us to ask the questions necessary to put this story together—Detroit’s story, but also the increasingly-familiar story of urban America in an era of prolonged economic crisis. That they themselves fail to do so testifies not only to the limitations of any still image, but our collective failure to imagine what Detroit’s future—our collective urban future—holds for us all.


John Patrick Leary teaches American literature at Wayne State University in Detroit and is at work on a book on the place of the ”third world” in the American imagination. He lives in southwest Detroit.

Writer’s Recommendations:

Hard Stuff: The Autobiography of Mayor Coleman Young. The profane, confrontational, self-serving, but excellent autobiography from Detroit’s mayor from 1974-1973.

Dan Austin and Sean Doerr, Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruins. Detroit ruin photography that fills in many of the architectural and historical gaps.

Camilo José Vergara’s American Ruins and The New American Ghetto depict dereliction and abandonment in cities like Detroit, Camden, Chicago, and New York City.

Thomas Sugrue’s essential The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit is a powerful account of Detroit’s twentieth-century history.

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3. Detroit has over 90,000 abandoned, condemned or vacant houses


Last House Standing: Abandoned Homes Punctuate Detroit’s Cleared NeighbourhoodsJanuary 26th, 2012, In Buildings & Places, Urban Exploration, by

detroit abandoned house 2 Last House Standing: Abandoned Homes Punctuate Detroits Cleared Neighbourhoods

(Image by Scott Carey, all rights reservedcc-nc-nd-3.0)

If one city could hold the title of Urban Decay Capital of the Western World, it would arguably be Detroit. Despite a revitalized downtown, various urban renewal efforts have failed to save many of the Motor City’s troubled neighbourhoods. Surveys have revealed a staggering percentage of residential lots either vacant or unsuitable for occupancy, and a 2010 plan escalated the clearing of entire neighbourhoods to effectively “downsize” the city.

detroit abandoned house 3 Last House Standing: Abandoned Homes Punctuate Detroits Cleared Neighbourhoods

(Images by Scott Carey, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

Scott Carey has documented a selection of Detroit’s abandoned houses on largely depopulated streets. In some cases, the dilapidated structures are the last ones standing in their immediate neighbourhoods, as adjoining buildings have already met the wrecking ball.

detroit abandoned house 6 Last House Standing: Abandoned Homes Punctuate Detroits Cleared Neighbourhoods

(Image by Scott Carey, cc-nc-nd-3.0; lower, all rights reserved)

Now a paradise for urban explorers, Detroit was America’s fourth largest city during the 1950s, a boom town riding the wave of automotive production. But decades later, and exaccerbated by the economic downturn of 2008, the city’s considerable modern ruins have multiplied.

detroit abandoned house 4 Last House Standing: Abandoned Homes Punctuate Detroits Cleared Neighbourhoods

(Image by Scott Carey, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

Some streets boast more abandoned residences than occupied ones. Elsewhere, isolated homes stand amid vast swaths of green that now blanket areas of suburban detroit, lonely reminders of neighbourhoods past and harbingers of demolition yet to come.

Some of them even resemble artist Mike Doyle’s acclaimed abandoned homes – built entirely from LEGO!


Dilapidated houses in Detroit


Detroit: The Ghost City Gradually Being Reclaimed by Nature

2 years ago Travel

Haunted HousePhoto: Shane Gorski

In 1966, the Fermi Nuclear Power Plant near Detroit overheated and partially melted. The incident was detailed in a book called We Almost Lost Detroit. The facility was closed down, and the utility company hopes someday to remove all traces of the abandoned power plant.

While Detroit avoided a nuclear disaster, riding through Detroit today feels like a post-apocalyptic experience. The city is experiencing the worst stages of neighborhood decline. Detroit’s “138 square miles are divided between expanses of decay and emptiness” among tracts of surviving communities, according to Bloomberg.

Abandoned factoryPhoto: LHOON

In 1950, Detroit was one of the richest cities in America, with the highest median income and highest rate of home ownership, its downtown full of architectural gems, as noted in The Guardian. But the collapse of its manufacturing base struck what may be a death blow to Detroit. The city that once held close to 2 million people now holds less than half that. The retreating population left behind an estimated 33,500 abandoned homes and 91,000 vacant lots. In some areas entire blocks have been bulldozed and cleared of housing. Neighborhoods have vanished, taking with them all traces of human existence.

Trees growing in housePhoto: Stan Wiechers

Detroit is turning into an urban prairie, with grass overtaking sidewalks, sapling trees towering over fences, and utility lines competing with tree branches. Old alleys resemble hiking trails, and empty lots are thick with wildflowers. In the summer, plant growth overtakes many abandoned houses. Giant trees are growing on the roofs of skyscrapers. Abandoned buildings are full of pigeon roosts and feral cats that keep the rat population in check. Wild dog packs roam neighborhoods, hunting the pheasants, turkeys, opossums, roosters and raccoons that have returned to the city. Ailanthus altissima – also known as the “ghetto palm” or the tree of heaven – has spread throughout the city. Over time the remaining homes will become crushed by these trees planted by homeowners decades ago. The plaster walls will eventually fade into dust.

Michigan Central StationPhoto: 416style

Detroit is a city in decline, and resisting this may be useless. According to Karina Pallagst of the University of California, Berkeley, there is “both a cultural and political taboo” about admitting decline in America. But people can be creative when trying to survive under difficult conditions. The remaining people are not giving up without a fight.

Detroit gardening clubPhoto: Angela Anderson-Cobb

One option Detroiters are using to deal with the decline is urban farming. Many non-profit agricultural organizations are springing up across Detroit. In a city without a major chain grocery store, people are again growing their own food. The 5,000 vacant acres are more than capable of supplying enough fruits and vegetables to supply the entire city’s needs.

Urban gardeningPhoto: greensudbury

Should the people of Detroit band together, they could sell their extra produce in farmers’ markets that could grow into full retail outlets. Options for entrepreneurship remain unlimited. Gardening and small-scale farming equipment would be needed, and Detroit’s manufacturing background could be called into play.

wild grassPhoto: William Stuben

Whatever its future, Detroit is a fascinating place of contrasts, rich in history and perhaps the first of many American cities to become a ghost city. Detroit has faced many difficult times in the past – and its future may be an indicator of America in the 21st century. It is possible that Detroit may one day resemble the original Fermi Plant, with all traces of civilization removed, the area returned to its wild state before human settlement. Its future depends on the hardy people left behind.

Written by: Lisa Hossler

China’s Spectacular New Art Museums

This is a collection of images and articles that cover the astounding new museums of art being built or already built-in China over the last few years. The startling rise of China’s gigantic economy is being matched by their movement and presence on the global stage. China has both centers for art production in Shanghai and Beijing, and a dazzling new international art market that will also be the third reveal of the phenomenal Art Basel art fair, which debuts in Hong Kong in 2013. No where else on earth is as fast-moving as the exponential growth in the China art scene and art worlds. China already has world-class collectors and collections, and is repatriating art purchased in the West back into its country of origin. China also is positioned in the secondary markets with its own global branded auction houses. China is building remarkable and gorgeous, stunningly beautiful museums that represent everything from a region to the nation to a single person contemporary artist. Yet what will further ground all the cultural movement are these new and amazing super-large scaled museums of art. Take for example the Chinese Museum of Wood. It is both spiritual and everyday, and holds most rewarding examples of works created in the woodworking tradition. Fortunately for us in the West, and in the US in particular, we will finally get to see China showcase itself in all of its cultural manifestations – no different than has Paris, with its various historic museums both small and enormous, that are markers of civilization for all the accomplishments of humanity.

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles


MOCA Shanghai
Shanghai’s Private Museums
by administrator,
Monday, July 1, 2013 – 16:29

CHINA DAILY RECENTLY reported that 100 new museums open in China every year. Some are private, some are linked to upmarket shopping malls, and others are public institutions established by a government that seems suddenly to be aware of the cultural deprivation it has imposed on its citizens over recent decades. Since 1949, a lot of Chinese culture simply just disappeared.

Now suddenly Chinese contemporary art has become a hot commodity with records being broken at auction almost every week and official institutions running hard to catch up with collectors who are opening their own private museums and galleries.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Shanghai a city of 25 million people and one clearly making a play to become the cultural centre of China; in the previous 12 months alone Shanghai has seen the opening of China’s largest private contemporary art museum – The Long Museum – and two monolithic public art spaces, the Power Station of Contemporary Art and the New China Art Museum in the refurbished China Pavilion on the 2010 China Expo site.

The Power Station of Contemporary Art, on the banks of the Huangpu River, was converted over a frenetic nine months from the Nanshi Power Plant into mainland China’s first state-run contemporary art museum at a cost of US$64 million. It may not be the equivalent of London’s Tate Modern, yet, but its conceptual heart is beating confidently within its 41,200-square-meter space which itself is dwarfed by the 62,000 square meters of the colossal New China Art Museum.

Museums both private and public seem to be sprouting everywhere.  But it is an activity that requires big bucks; the infrastructure is staggering, the ongoing costs breathtaking and the cost of the art beyond the reach of all but the über-rich.

Chinese property developer Dai Zhikang is currently putting the finishing touches to a huge US$480 million development in Shanghai’s rapidly expanding Pudong District. The Himalayas Centre designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, includes conference facilities, luxury hotel, restaurants and shopping spaces; located on the top floor of the development is Zhikang’s soon-to-be-opened vast curvilinear Shanghai Zendai Himalayas Art Museum in which he will show his own art collection.

Across Shanghai and located in the equivalent of London’s Bond Street, is billionaire Adrien Cheng’s newly opened K11 shopping mall. Known as the ‘Art Mall’, K11 specialises in high-end Western brands. Burberry and Valentino are already in place but the mall is so new that many of the shops are vacant. It still smells of fresh paint and plastic and the highly polished floors are as yet unscuffed. The basement is a dedicated low- ceilinged art gallery that will show work by the country’s leading artists. Last month’s inaugural Shanghai Surprise exhibition was a group show with work from several local art stars including, Yang Fudong, Qui Anxiong and Birdhead.

Close by in the famous Bund area of the city is billionaire Thomas Ou’s Rockbund Art museum housed in an exquisitely restored 1933 Art Deco building that was at one time home to the Royal Asiatic Society. Ou’s large contemporary art space which opened in 2010 has no permanent collection but hosts impressive contemporary shows by leading Chinese artists.

Wang Wei, wife of billionaire entrepreneur Lui Yiqian, has recently opened (December 2012) the largest contemporary art museum in China in Shanghai’s Pudong district. The 10,000-square-meter Long Museum was built to showcase her collection of contemporary and revolutionary Chinese art with the upper floor devoted to ancient Chinese art and antiques which are her husband’s preferences. Wei plans a second museum later this year, part of the West Bank Cultural Corridor in Xuhui District, and will show even more of her collection of contemporary Chinese art.

Not to be out done Budi Tek, an Indonesian-Chinese agribusiness billionaire and Shanghai resident, will also open his Yuz Museum Shanghai on the same Xuhui site to accommodate his personal collection of international and Chinese contemporary art.

Lorenz Helbling, who owns the commercial ShangArt Gallery, has lived in Shanghai since 1995 and has witnessed the growth of private museums in the city. ‘In 1995, no one came to Shanghai to look at art. Now Shanghai is a contemporary city, a city of today and people here are interested in contemporary art even though they are still trying to understand what it art is all about,’ he said dryly.

There are a million millionaires in China but it is only the billionaires – of which there are 122 according to Forbes Magazine – who can afford the private galleries and the art to put in them. Their wealth has grown in parallel with an economy that has embraced, ‘capitalism with Chinese characteristics.’ These nouveaux riches are, a ‘fast-growing thicket of bamboo capitalism,’ as The Economist magazine labelled them, with a cashed-up status that has in effect, allowed them to corner the contemporary art market during a period when government cultural institutions seemed uninterested.

Some critics have labelled private museums as vanity projects and a flaunting of wealth.  But Wei and Tek, both of whom spoke to Asian Art Newspaper last month in Shanghai, see such accusations as short-sighted. Their galleries are precisely planned philanthropic endeavours which come with clearly defined social responsibilities which include educational and lecture programmes.

Wang Wei’s Long Museum which opened last December in Pudong, cost of 271 million Yuan (US$43 million) to build and is bank-rolled by her billionaire industrialist husband, Liu Yiqian. The 10,000 square-meter space will cost 7 million Yuan annually to run Liu told CCTV recently. But the sobriquet of the Long Museum being China’s largest private museum will be short-lived. Later this year, Wang Wei will open her second even larger 16,000-square-meter, contemporary art space on an abandoned airfield that is being turned into the West Bank Cultural Corridor (WBCC) in Xuhiu District on the banks of the Huangpu River. The WBCC is being pioneered by local Party Secretary, Sun Jiwei and will comprise tourist attractions, restaurants, commercial space and parkland. DreamWorks Animation has already signed a multi-million dollar deal to build a movie studio and entertainment zone on the site.

Wang Wei’s museum will not be the only one on the site either. Tek is building his own privately financed Yuz Museum Shanghai there too. ‘Right next door to DreamWorks,’ Tek said. Tek’s 8,000-square-meter building designed by acclaimed Japanese architect, Sou Fujimoto is the first phase of a development that  will eventually take in adjacent land and add a further 20,000 square meters of exhibition space. Wang Wei and her husband Liu Yiqian have been collecting Chinese art for over 20 years. Liu, who is 171 on Forbe’s Magazine China Rich List with an estimated fortune of US$790 million has a passion for ancient and antique Chinese art while Wang Wei has preferred to concentrate on Chinese contemporary and modern and in establishing a museum quality narrative collection of Revolutionary Chinese art that covers  1945 to 2009. Fifteen minutes spent inside the Long Museum is long enough to realise that no expense has been spared; from its soaring 14-meter ceiling of the Central Hall to the unpolished marble flagstones of the stair well to the fastidious nature of the displays, all speak of a high degree of finesse rarely seen in private or public galleries.

News China reported that Lui Yiqian and Wang Wei spent US$139 million on art in 2009 the same year Yiqian set an auction record for a piece of Chinese furniture when he paid US$11 million for an 18th-century Imperial Qianlong period zitan throne, which is now displayed on the third floor of the Long Museum alongside ancient scrolls and fine porcelain all of which are bathed in pools of soft light triggered by the movement of visitors through the gallery. Annual running costs of seven million Yuan have led commentators to question the sustainability of private museum. But Wang Wei dismisses concerns about sustainability and points out that the name, Long Museum, was chosen because its Chinese pictogram means long-lasting. ‘The Long Museum will last for one hundred years,’ she said.

Budi Tek, whose Shanghai Yuz Museum will be the second museum to carry this name, the first opened in Jakarta in 2008, while happy to stump up the cost of both the building and establishing the collection, remains all too aware that the museum’s long- term viability lies in making it sustainable. He, like Wang Wei, will charge a small entrance fee somewhere between 50 and 100 Yuan he says and which visitors will be able to redeem against other onsite purchases. He plans to generate income from other elements of the development. For example, there will be design and furniture stores, restaurants, book shops and residences onsite which will be available to the public when not being used by artists. But he insists everything will be art-related and all profits will be returned to the museum.

Tek believes there is now too much money chasing too few works of contemporary Chinese art leading to a dearth of affordable museum quality pieces coming on to the market. ‘In China the most important pieces of contemporary Chinese art are already held by us collectors. There are no major museum collections yet,’ he said. Which of course begs the question, what will the mega-public exhibition spaces such as the PSA put on their walls?

More recently, Tek’s collecting has turned away from Chinese contemporary to international installation artists such as Fred Sandback, Antony Gormley and Adel Abdessemed, works that require a lot of space. He is an intuitive and slightly impulsive buyer and while he is happy to defer exhibition decisions to a curator he insists the decision about what he buys is his alone. ‘No one advises me. I see something and I buy it. No one advised me when I bought Maurizio Cattelan’s olive tree. No one advised me when I bought Adel’s plane.’

For her part, Wang Wei is adamant that her collecting policy is driven by a desire to reclaim her culture. It is a philosophy she has pursued resolutely throughout her 20 years of collecting. She insists that Chinese art should remain firmly in Chinese hands and it is this philosophy that has driven her definitive collection of Revolutionary Art. And she does not share Tek’s concerns about the dearth of good contemporary art coming onto the market. For the Long Museum’s opening exhibition 15 leading Chinese contemporary artists including Zhang Xiaogang, Fang Lijun, Yue Minjun and Zeng Fanzhi created work to hang in the Central Hall. When asked if she owned the 15 works, a spokeswoman for Wang smiled and said, ‘Not yet!’.

Many commentators who question the sustainability of the private museums are also sceptical as to whether they can successfully operate in a climate where the commercial, cultural and political so closely overlap.

The shifting line between what can and cannot be shown in China was highlighted in May this year when Chinese censors excised several Andy Warhol images of Chairman Mao from a touring exhibition 15 Minutes Eternal, of 300 Warhol pictures before it reached Shanghai’s PSA.  The images had already been seen in Hong Kong, but were deemed to be irreverent and unsuitable for mainland consumption. The Mao pictures will be reinstated when the exhibition moves on to Tokyo. While the Chinese government is happy to pursue its ‘soft culture’ push overseas, it remains highly sensitive to images that could offend at home.

There are few images in Wang Wei’s collection of Revolutionary Art, with its litany of happy smiling peasant faces and images that extol Chairman Mao’s achievements over half a century of communist party control that would offend the Party hierarchy. Even so Wang Wei takes a cautious ‘softly, softly’ approach and sees her collection in broad terms as, ‘complementary to national collections which for historical reasons cannot present certain art,’ she said enigmatically. Shanghai citizens however are flocking to the new cultural icons throughout the city. Helbling says that since the first Shanghai Biennale in 1996 there has been a steady and growing interest in contemporary art and that now, the big problem for Chinese public galleries is ‘trying to sort out what type of contemporary art they will have’.




National Art Museum of China Proposal / MAD Architects

By: Lidija Grozdanic | October – 1 – 2012

National Art Museum of China, MAD Architects, architecture competition, museum architecture, floating architecture, 2008 Olympics

The building was designed by MAD Architects, as proposal for the international competition for the future National Art Museum of China in Bejing. Their concept is based on an elevated public square which is protected by a floating mega volume above.

The original structure of the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) built in 1962, houses one of the country’s largest art collections and has played host to some of the influential exhibitions as recorded in contemporary Chinese history. The current plans are to move the institution into a new building, situated within a designated ‘art district’ on the central axis of the 2008 Olympic site.

National Art Museum of China, MAD Architects, architecture competition, museum architecture, floating architecture, 2008 Olympics

MAD’s design is organized into three layers, where programs are divided by each level. The one-storey ground floor houses all ancillary functions and is conceived in such a way that it can be operated independently from the museum in off hours. Above this, a 20,000 square meter urban plaza program acts as the main gallery for permanent art collections and exhibitions. The arrangement of this hall gives visitors the opportunity to decide how to engage with the works on show, while simultaneously being surrounded by outward views of the surrounding cityscape courtesy of windows that wrap around the perimeter of the structure. This level is also directly connected to the former Olympic park via a bridge, thus making use of an area of the urban plan which would otherwise be ignored.

National Art Museum of China, MAD Architects, architecture competition, museum architecture, floating architecture, 2008 Olympics

National Art Museum of China, MAD Architects, architecture competition, museum architecture, floating architecture, 2008 Olympics

National Art Museum of China, MAD Architects, architecture competition, museum architecture, floating architecture, 2008 Olympics

National Art Museum of China, MAD Architects, architecture competition, museum architecture, floating architecture, 2008 Olympics

National Art Museum of China, MAD Architects, architecture competition, museum architecture, floating architecture, 2008 Olympics

This is design of a Beijing based architecture firm named MAD, they unveiled their new museum for Chinese wood sculptures. The museum is located in Habrin main city in Northern China. The city itself is currently trying to defining itself as a regional hub for the arts at a time when the historic city is rapidly expanding. That’s why they choose to build this museum right there right now. The main idea of the Chinese wood sculptures museum is inspired by the unique local landscapes of the city. The museum is a contrast between the elegance of nature and the speed of daily life. The museum is about 200 meters long and for the concept is shaped to explore and reflect the relation between the building and the environment as a big frozen fluid. The interior of the museum is separated on two general parts. Each one represents an expedition. They are connected mutually by a centralized entrance which separates the two museums while simultaneously joining them. This is used to make the impression of symbiotic relationship between the two expeditions. Another good idea by the designers is the full glass roof, this not only make the outside of the building outstanding and looking futuristic, but also helps for the sunlight to lighten the entire museum and helping for the viewing atmosphere inside.

Siteplan of the China Wood Sculpture Museum

Chinese architect Pei-Zhu’s OCT Design Museum in Shenzhen, China.
Courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu

Shanghai To Transform China Pavilion Into Art “Palace”

City Sets Ambitious Goal To Open 16 New Museums By 2015

The China Pavilion Will Reopen as the China Art Palace next fall

The China Pavilion Will Reopen as the China Art Palace next fall

Shanghai may be known as a city obsessed with the pursuit of money, but in recent years China’s most populous metropolis has busied itself with another obsession: rivaling Beijing as a cultural and artistic hub. As Jing Daily noted this past May, while Beijing still enjoys its status as China’s cultural and political capital, the city’s rampant growth over the past decade has cannibalized many of its vibrant arts districts and threatened many others, alienating the creative community and, in some cases, pushing artists to relocate.

This shift in Beijing, and Shanghai’s well-capitalized initiative to foster a more creative environment in the city, has invigorated Shanghai’s cultural ambitions. Over the last few years, new creative/lifestyle venues like 1933 (a restored Jazz Age abattoir), the Shanghai Songjiang Creative Studio, and the Rockbund Art Museum have opened their doors. Though red tape and fly-by-night private gallery owners continue to plague the industry, by 2015, Shanghai plans to open 16 more large-scale museums and galleries.

As Shanghai Daily writes this week, one of these 16 planned museums and galleries, the massive “China Art Palace,” is attracting particular attention. For the art “Palace,” the China Pavilion from last year’s Shanghai World Expo is being transformed into an art museum “on a par with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris,” according to a senior official. From the article:

The China Art Palace will collect top-level art from home and abroad, primarily to showcase the origins and development of China’s modern arts.

It is part of a plan by the city government to build 16 new major museums and art galleries and many smaller museums by 2015 and make Shanghai an “international cultural metropolis,” said Zong.

“In the future, Shanghai residents will be able to find a museum and cultural venue within a 15-minute walk of their homes,” she said.

“The number and quality of art galleries and museums is an important measure of cultural standing – cities such as New York and Paris are famed for their top-level galleries,” said Teng Junjie, art director of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture Radio Film and TV.

The palace, which will cover an area of 70,000 square meters, will open on a limited basis next October, Zong said.

Most facilities from the former China Pavilion can be retained, bringing considerable savings, she said.

The three levels of the former main exhibition hall of the Expo pavilion will showcase the history and development of modern art of Shanghai and China, while the former joint pavilion for Chinese provinces and municipalities will have separate exhibition rooms for famous Chinese modern artists, including top Shanghai painter Cheng Shifa, said Teng.

As Teng Junjie added this weekend, the aim for cultural officials is to establish three major museums in the city by 2015: “the existing Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai Art Palace and the China Contemporary Art Museum – for historic, modern and contemporary artworks.” But, large scale public projects aside, more museums and galleries won’t do much to transform Shanghai into a cultural hub to rival New York, Paris or even Beijing unless, as Jing Daily pointed out earlier this month, the regulatory environment for private museums and galleries is transformed as well.


Super-Collector Wang Wei’s Dragon Art Museum Hits Construction Milestone

2 tweets

12,000 Square Meter Museum Located In Shanghai’s Pudong District

Zhong Song's exterior design, featuring a projection of Chen Yifei's 1987 painting, "The Flute Player"

Zhong Song’s exterior design, featuring a projection of Chen Yifei’s 1987 painting, “The Flute Player”

This past February, Jing Daily covered Chinese art “super-collector” Wang Wei’s long-discussed private art museum in Shanghai, which Wang and billionaire investor husband Liu Yiqian plan to open next year. The “Dragon Art Museum” (龙美术馆) will showcase Wang and Liu’s extensive collection of blue-chip Chinese contemporary art on the ground floor, Wang’s Mao-era “Red Classics” from 1949-1979 on the second, and traditional works and ancient artifacts on the third floor.

Taking over a section of the former Tomson Centre (汤臣别墅商业中心) building in Shanghai’s Pudong district, near the Shanghai New International Expo Center, Wang’s museum will expand the original 8,000 square meter space to 12,000 square meters. With around 15 months to go until the museum’s planned November 18, 2012 grand opening, last weekend construction teams hit a milestone, starting work on the building’s facade.

Designed by Zhong Song (仲松), a “post-70s generation” artist and architect who started off his career at the studio of the late Beijing artist Chen Yifei, the museum’s facade is at tasteful and minimalist, going against the current preference for all things large and loud in the world of Chinese architecture. According to Zhong, the concept of the building’s facade is “clean and quality,” adding that he will use only light-colored granite for the exterior, installing fewer and smaller windows in order to give “a feeling of wholeness” to the building.

Based on an artist rendering of the exterior, which shows a projection of Chen Yifei’s 1987 work, “The Flute Player” on the museum’s facade, expect some high-tech features to be worked into the low-key granite-and-glass design. In addition to the facade currently under construction, crews will soon start work on the auxiliary warehouse, with all construction expected to be complete by the end of this year.

As Wang Wei told the Chinese art magazine Art Finance earlier this summer, she and Liu Yiqian have already invested over 200 million yuan (US$31 million) in the project, and are projecting an annual operating budget of 5 million yuan (US$774,000).


MVRDV: china comic and animation museum

‘china comic and animation museum’ by MVRDV, hangzhou, china
images © MVRDV

dutch practice MVRDV has won the international competition for the ‘china comic and animation museum’
in hangzhou, china. composed of eight balloon shaped volumes, the design looks to create an internally complex
experience measuring 30,000 square meters in total. fantastical and whimsical in its approach, the proposal is
part of a larger master plan that will include a series of parks, a public plaza and an expo center.

comic book library with view into interactive exhibition zone

set to break ground in 2012, the museum seeks to create a platform which will unite the evolving worlds of art
and entertainment. the application of one of the most iconic cartoon motifs – the speech bubble – allows the unit
to be instantly recognized as a place for comics, animation and cartoons. as text is projected onto the
monochromatic exterior surface, the forms come to life, further transforming the two dimensional motif into a
three dimensional reality.

interactive exhibition space

each of the eight volumes, occupied by unique and independent functions, are interconnected allowing for a
circular tour of the entire building. large voids at the point of interception provide visual connection and access
between the dynamic programs, which include a comic book library and three cinemas.

exhibition space

accommodating a range of versatile exhibition spaces, the museum will feature a permanent collection that is
presented in a chronological spiral along with smaller, adaptive halls for temporary displays.

exhibition space

entrance and view into multiple balloons

interactive light elements

aerial view of site

diagram of programs

additional images of the circulation zones:


foster + partners: datong art museum

‘datong art museum’ by foster + partners, datong, china
all images © foster + partners

construction has begun in datong, china on the ‘datong art museum’, designed by london-based practice foster + partners.
four pyramidal roof peaks interlock to define the exterior form, evoking the imagery of an erupted landscape. the external surfaces
are clad with corten steel, a material with earthen hues and will continue to weather over time. one of four new buildings bordering
a new cultural plaza, the 32,000 square meter center will be slightly sunken into the earth, matching the scale of its neighbors.
visitors descend through a stepped courtyard of sculptures to enter the museum.

at the ground level, a grand gallery with a 37 meter tall atrium with a clear span of 80 meters provides a centerpiece area
for large-scale installations and exhibitions. skylights within the high ceilings introduce northern and north-western daylight,
creating an optimal environment to display artworks with natural illumination and minimal solar gain.

aerial view of the entry plaza at night

perimeter exhibition spaces will contain state-of-the-art climate controls. artificial lighting runs along tracks within ceiling recesses
and a 5 meter grid along the floor integrates security, data and power. with 70 percent of the structure formed from a roof,
the building is insulated almost twice more than code requires, reducing the presence and necessary maintenance with only
10 percent overall glazing.

scheduled to open in 2013, the venue will represent the country in the ‘beyond the building’ basel art international tour.

main entrance


The National Art Museum of China by UnStudio


The architectural design concept for The National Art Museum of China by UnStudio reminds the artifact of ancient Chinese “stone drums”.  Historically, the Stone Drum bears inscriptions that represent precious piece of the fragmentary puzzle of the Chinese script. This special form of the museum highlights the identity of the country, its spirit and essence. Moreover, the design concept is based on the duplicities that complement each other: day and night, inside and outside, fast and slow, dao or tao, individual and collective.
The main aim of this design concept is to give diversified and visible spaces for pieces of art. Also, the role of light is extremely important in the design of this building. The edifice is constructed in such a way that gives more opportunities for artists and curators in displaying their works and showing their ideas. Designers of the museum creating their work did not forget about the visitors. So, internally it is organized in such a manner that gives visitor a possibility to explore the museum by different paths around thematic consistencies of art.
Museum is greatly involved in urban context and provides the strong cultural presence for the area.

Tania Sinitsa


Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini

Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China – Art and culture iGuzzini

Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
Museum Lighting: National Museum Of China - Art and culture iGuzzini
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About the project
One of the most ambitious project for the museum lighting made by iGuzzini is certainly the National Museum of China, completed in 1959 as one of ten important public buildings in Tiananmen Square, in direct proximity to the Forbidden City, the museum is still a milestone in the history of modern Chinese architecture.

The conversion and extension of the Chinese National Museum combines the former Chinese History Museum with the Chinese Revolutionary Museum. Outline plans were invited from ten international architectural firms and the project was awarded to Gerkan, Marg & Partners (gmp) for its submission, together with Beijing’s CABR, ahead of Foster & Partners, Kohn Pedersen Fox, OMA & Herzog & de Meuron.

The original GMP submission envisaged gutting the existing museum. The aim was to join the northern and southern wings in a single complex, by removing the central structure. The 260 metre long hall acts as its central access area. It widens to embrace the existing central entrance which opens onto Tiananmen Square. The ‘forum’ thus created acts as an atrium and multi-functional events area, with all services for the public, that is to say, cafes and tea shops, book shops and souvenir stores, ticket offices and toilets.

The museum lighting for the coffered roof extending along the entire forum and in the central Hall was designed by the lighting design office conceptlicht. A key feature of the concept is a special luminaire, developed by conceptlicht and produced by iGuzzini, which creates a welcoming atmosphere throughout the building.

This project required a customized solution to conceal the lighting source into the coffers. The project utilized down light optics with both traditional and LED sources.


Art Museum of Yue Minjun

 posted in News

from Architectural Record

Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Image courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu

Studio Pei-Zhu, a Beijing-based firm, has designed a museum that will house the work of Yue Minjun, a Chinese contemporary artist known for his repetitive images of large, smiling figures.

“While the devastating Sichuan earthquake in May left a large portion of Western China in ruins, signs are emerging that some notable building projects in the area are pushing forward. One of these projects is the Art Museum of Yue Minjun, designed by Beijing-based Studio Pei-Zhu, a 2007 Design Vanguard winner.

Located near the Qingcheng Mountains, and adjacent to the Shimeng River in Sichuan Province, the 10,700-square-foot museum will house the work of Yue Minjun, a Chinese contemporary artist known for his repetitive images of large, smiling figures. It will be one of 10 new museums on the same site, each dedicated to the work of an influential Chinese artist. Zhang Xiaogang and Wang Guangyi are among the other artists to be showcased. The complex, which is being developed by the local government of Dujingyuan, is the brainchild of Lu Peng, an art professor at the China Central Academy of Fine Art.

Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Images courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu

The Yue Minjun museum will contain exhibition space and a small artist’s studio. According to Pei Zhu, one of the firm’s principals, a river rock that he picked up one day inspired the building’s form—a large, oblong sphere. “Everything is based on the natural stone, which has a very strong relationship between the creek and the mountain and nature,” explains Zhu.

Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Image courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu

On the exterior, curvilinear walls will be clad in highly polished zinc, a soft metal that blends in with the natural surroundings while also giving the building a futuristic look. “Normally, architects will use a local material and vernacular language,” says Zhu. “We believe we needed to make something both futuristic and very natural.” It’s a striking departure from another recent project designed by the firm for the 2008 Summer Olympics: Digital Beijing, a control center whose façade resembles computer circuitry.

Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Image courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu

Work is already underway on the art museum. Site preparation began earlier this year, and the building should be completed by early 2009. Zhu says the earthquake delayed the project a mere three months, at most. “The developer still really wants to push this project [forward],” he says, “and we think that this will still benefit the society and the city.”

Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Images courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu


CAFA Art Museum

Beijing Art Museum by Arata Isozaki & Associates

Beijing Cafa Art Museum Photo
Beijing CAFA Art Museum
CAFA Art Museum Architecture
Interior of Beijing CAFA Art Museum
Wall Design Beijing CAFA Art Museum

CAFA Art Museum, located at the northeast corner of campus CAFA (China Central Academy of Fine Arts), is set from curvilinear walls covered with traditional Chinese slate.

The walls are separated at the ends to which natural light enters the building through skylights and large windows.

From the main entrance, located in the center of the building, access to a large atrium in height with long straight ramps that ascend gradually to the various floors of the museum. Natural light spreads throughout the museum through the membranes of fiberglass skylights.

The ground floor can accommodate large installations that can be seen from the different levels of the ramp. The permanent collection, focusing on traditional Chinese art, is located on the first floor galleries, temporary exhibitions in the second and third floors.

Large open spaces with natural light, curvilinear walls, allow many different kinds of contemporary art installations. The exhibition space on the third floor is open to the double volume of the second floor.

There are four floors above ground, two below ground. The library and cafeteria are located in the main space on the ground floor. Basement 1 includes a reading room, a study room and a conference room. 2 In the basement offices are located in conservation of paintings and calligraphy, including the restoration room, laboratory and warehouse of temporary and permanent collections. Technical equipment protected stairways and elevators are located in rectangular volumes, covered with marble.


Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio

  • 22 Feb 2009

In Iwan Baan‘s website, we found one of the latest works he photographed, the Ningbo Historic Museum designed by Wang Shu, .

An amazing stone work, more pictures after the break:

Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (1) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (2) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (3) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (4) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (5) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (6) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (7) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (8) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (9) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (10) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (11) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (12) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
Ningbo Historic Museum / Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio (13) © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

MoMA Chengdu / Studio Ramoprimo

By: Lidija Grozdanic | February – 22 – 2012

Organized by the Chengdu Ministry of Culture and the Chengdu Culture and Tourism Development Group, the Competition for the Chinese MoMA was part of an initiative for creating a double ring of public facilities around the Tianfu Square in Chengdu. The first ring is supposed to consist of cultural facilities. The second and larger one is planned for highrises.

Museum of Modern Art china

Designed by Studio Ramoprimo, the winning entry proposes a dialogue with the surrounding, drawing physical references from the existing urban and architectural condition. The basic idea is to enlarge the existing public space of Tianfu Square and make it “climbing” on the roof of the new building. The new museum is a group of volumes creating a small cultural city.

Two main axis cut the site area defining a comfortable pedestrian island where people can walk away from cars. The new urban situation is also establishing new visual and physical connections between existing parts of the city. People can pass through the plot and easily come from the Tianfu square and reach the surrounding museums. The four museum blocks create an arising slope on which people can walk, seat, play, have a rest, enjoy the view to the central square like in a open public theater. The whole shape according the function is rising step by step from the earth to the sky, while the ending corner of the building replaces the original position of the ancient and forgotten city wall.

The Museum Of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition proposal is located at Futian District, Shenzhen’s most important central region for administration, business and culture. The building functions as part of Shenzhen’s civic centre, where the City Library, Opera House, Central Bookstore, Youth Activity Hall (YAH) and other civic building have been built. The international competition held in 2007 required The Museum Of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) to include two independent and yet inter-connected parts: The museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and Planning Exhibition (PE). Designed by Rome-based LABORATORIO 543, the proposal is a 90.000 square meter structure that aims to enhance the service of Shenzhen’s new civic center.

The building is divided into two parts: the first rests on the ground and the other is suspended on the upper level. These undulating segments have multiple connection points, ensuring the overall stability of the structure and facilitating communication between different programs. The structural frame, which is required to support the suspended level, can be compared to a cantilever. Located at ground level, the main entrance belongs to a composition of

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Art Museum of Yue Minjun

posted in News

from Architectural Record

Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Image courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu

Studio Pei-Zhu, a Beijing-based firm, has designed a museum that will house the work of Yue Minjun, a Chinese contemporary artist known for his repetitive images of large, smiling figures.

“While the devastating Sichuan earthquake in May left a large portion of Western China in ruins, signs are emerging that some notable building projects in the area are pushing forward. One of these projects is the Art Museum of Yue Minjun, designed by Beijing-based Studio Pei-Zhu, a 2007 Design Vanguard winner.

Located near the Qingcheng Mountains, and adjacent to the Shimeng River in Sichuan Province, the 10,700-square-foot museum will house the work of Yue Minjun, a Chinese contemporary artist known for his repetitive images of large, smiling figures. It will be one of 10 new museums on the same site, each dedicated to the work of an influential Chinese artist. Zhang Xiaogang and Wang Guangyi are among the other artists to be showcased. The complex, which is being developed by the local government of Dujingyuan, is the brainchild of Lu Peng, an art professor at the China Central Academy of Fine Art.

Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Art Museum of Yue Minjun
Images courtesy Studio Pei-Zhu

The Yue Minjun museum will contain exhibition space and a small artist’s studio. According to Pei Zhu, one of the firm’s principals, a river rock that he picked up one day inspired the building’s form—a large, oblong sphere. “Everything is based on the natural stone, which has a very strong relationship between the creek and the mountain and nature,” explains Zhu.

Beijing To Build “World’s Largest Art Museum”: What’ll They Fill It With?
Source:Jing Daily Date: 2011-03-18 Size:
This week, as part of its 12th five-year plan, Beijing announced a new phase for the National Art Museum of China, a massive, glass-covered structure that is being touted as “the world’s largest art gallery.” Currently in the design process, the new National Art Museum will be located next to the current museum and near the Beijing National Stadium, with construction expected to begin next spring.

Chinese Contemporary Art Getting Scarcer; Can Auctions Be Museums’ Only Source For Top Art?

Preliminary design for the National Art Museum of China new phase

This week, as part of its 12th five-year plan, Beijing announced a new phase for the National Art Museum of China, a massive, glass-covered structure that is being touted as “the world’s largest art gallery.” Currently in the design process, the new National Art Museum will be located next to the current museum and near the Beijing National Stadium, with construction expected to begin next spring. While the new National Art Museum sounds like another example of the Chinese government building a mammoth public venue for the sake of getting another “world’s largest” title under its belt, as museum director Fan Di’an told delegates at the recent National People’s Congress, China’s public art facilities haven’t lived up to the promise of the country’s burgeoning interest in the arts.

As Fan pointed out last week, the current National Art Museum — which was built in 1963 in Beijing’s Dongcheng district — is a meager 8,300 square meters in size. Compare that to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, at 58,529 square meters, and the Louvre, which boasts over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space. Since attendance became free at the National Art Museum on March 2, according to Fan Di’an, it has clocked nearly 6,000 visitors at peak times, “nearly hitting capacity,” according to Xinhua. Clearly, the current digs are inadequate, certainly for a city that most consider to be the cultural heart of China. But how will director Fan Di’an fill the 130,000 total square meters of exhibition space he’ll have when the new phase is complete?

One clue comes from an interview Fan Di’an recently gave at the “Art Power” awards in Beijing, where he was named “Best Museum Administrator.” Speaking to Sina, Fan said that the Chinese contemporary art world is becoming stronger as more artists become globally recognized, more curators have the ability to promote Chinese art, and more (and better) museums are built across the country. Fan’s interest in contemporary art and the priority he places on public arts education have made him something of a star in the Chinese art world, a break from the stereotype of the stodgy apparatchik or stuffy administrator. Fan also counts many first-generation Chinese contemporary artists as close friends, such as his former Central Academy of Fine Arts classmate Xu Bing. With the ample room he will be afforded with the new National Art Museum, expect to see Fan display an impressive array of contemporary Chinese works alongside his other interests, which include everything from 1950s Chinese prints to artifacts from Dunhuang in Xinjiang province.

With so much room to fill, not just in Beijing but in new provincial art museums throughout mainland China, it won’t be surprising if we see museum and gallery representatives showing up at the upcoming Sotheby’s spring auctions in Hong Kong, where works by some of China’s top artists will be on the block. Directors like Fan Di’an would almost certainly love to get some pieces from the Ullens collection on the walls and prevent them from leaving the country once and for all. Now that new Chinese private collectors are getting more involved with the auction market and works by blue-chip Chinese artists are getting scarcer and scarcer, it’s no surprise that excitement is growing in China for the upcoming spring auction season.


New Abstract Paintings: The Cosmos suite (2012)

Cosmos. Oil on canvas  2012 by Vincent Johnson

Cosmos Red Yellow Green. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

Green God. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

This new painting series is part of my ongoing exploration of painting materials and techniques from the history of painting. The works combine knowledge of painting practices of both abstract and representation paintings. The works concern themselves purely with the visual power that paintings can do through the manipulation of paint. Some of the underpaintings are allowed to dry for months; some of those are built dark to light, others light to dark. None are made in a single setting. Most are worked and reworked using studio materials. Each new series takes a different approach to the painted surface from how the paint is applied, to varying the painting mediums. This suite concerns itself with the layering of paint by building up the surface and altering and reworking the wet paint with studio tools.

Two larger paintings will be completed and photographed on Sunday, July 15, 2012 and posted here.

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – installation shot – 2
Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – studio shot – 1 (Silver hand)
Vincent Johnson – in my studio working on my Nine Grayscale Paintings
Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – first stage of grayscale painting
Los Angeles based artist and writer Vincent Johnson
Vincent Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Painting 1986. He started out as a student in Pratt’s painting department. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

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