"Beyond the Erotic" From the Founder of Miami Biennale

Categories: Art
Photo by Carl Van Vechten
Salvador Dalí and Man Ray
As if extolling eroticism as a function of the gaze, Milagros Maldonado appears eager for thousands of hungry eyes to experience the same pleasure she enjoys from the works in her collection. "Beyond the Erotic: From the Collection of Milagros Maldonado," on view at her 25,000-square-foot retrofitted Dorissa Building art space, features scores of works owned by the Venezuelan art activist, who is also founder of the Miami Biennale scheduled to open in November 2012 .

See an eclectic array of works including paintings, drawings, photographs, mixed-media pieces, and sculptures as well as a selection of works by 20th-century masters such as Man Ray, Roberto Matta, and Wilfredo Lam. Oddly missing from her entrée to the Miami art scene are video or sound pieces or the elaborate installations typically found in the other big private collections around town.

Wilfredo Lam's Leda and the Swan.
Curated by José Antonio Navarette, the exhibit seeks to explore the erotic nature of art-hoarding and the dynamics behind building a cohesive collection, according to an excessive amount of wall text plastered throughout the show. Another distraction that unintentionally sends shivers up the spine are the numerous works hung askew, while some of the larger wall-sized digital prints appear warped.

The exhibit is organized into distinct sections. One features landscapes, real or imagined. Another includes mostly portraits, while yet another showcases the diversity of Maldonado's divergent interests. On display is everything from El Anatsui's Meeting of the Elders, a spectacular quilt-like confection crafted from bottle caps and copper wire that swallows an entire wall, to Maria Fernanda Cardoso's delicate Butterfly Drawing arranged in two concentric circles from iridescent azure insect wings. There is also a photo of Frida Kahlo by Leo Matiz, beguiling pictures of Malian beauties by Seydou Keita, and even a fetching portrait of Maldonado herself snapped in 1970 by Claudio Abate in Rome.

But the exhibit's historical gems are tucked into a back room in the final segment dubbed "Erotic Instinct," from which one would presume the exhibit takes its name. Check out Man Ray's picture of his longtime lover and muse Kiki de Montparnasse, the Kim Kardashian of her day. The cabaret singer and artist model was mostly famous for being famous among the bohemian enclave that then haunted Paris's Left Bank. Legend had it that Kiki could only grow pubic hair when she was in love.

Although the collection will strike some as conventional and the presentation as uneven, it does boast many works not typically seen here outside a museum, and several on display in the section on eroticism, despite being denied pride of place at the entrance of the space, alone are worth the trip. Look for our full review in this week's issue.

See "Beyond the Erotic: From the Collection of Milagros Maldonado" through June 30 at Dorissa Building (2751 N. Miami Avenue, Miami). The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 305-576-2914 or visit miamibiennale.org.

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