April 16, 2007

Poles Apart

In addition to its permanent exhibit, the Rubell Family Collection in Miami also presents themed, temporary shows, curated out of its own collection. Last winter they exhibited Poles Apart: Contemporary Polish Art. To be honest, I was skeptical going into the Polish exhibit: I did not know what to expect and did not want to get distracted away from the art by well-known artists. But I kept an open mind (artpup style) and proceeded through the exhibit. In the end I was pleasantly surprised. It was the discovery that made it so special - the sort of pleasure that you come upon unexpectedly.

My favorite work was the Concentration Camp series of photographs by
Zbigniew Libera.

Please click to enlarge images for a better view.

Here the artist constructed scenes from Nazi-era concentration camps using customized Lego pieces. The original limited edition Lego sets were not available at the Rubell exhibit, but the photographs of the sets were on display. The value of the work comes from the material. A very disturbing period of human history is presented in a lighthearted way using popular toy pieces. The innocence associated with children's toys contrasts starkly with the uncomfortable subject matter that it depicts. It lets you in on a dark period in Polish history, the terrorizing Nazi experience during WWII.

This post concludes my report from the Rubell
Family Collection this year. I will be back next year to see new acquisitions and other work that gets unearthed out of storage in this revolving exhibition space. I tried to give you a flavor of the collection, covering a few highlights. The Rubell collection is massive, representing a broad range of well-known artists, from non-living contemporaries like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring to current stars like Elizabeth Peyton and Lisa Yuskavage. If you travel to Miami between December and May, make sure you visit the Rubell Family Collection. You will enjoy the experience.

Now that the weather is getting warmer up north, I am going to head up to Toronto and review a couple of works there.

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