Bass Museum of Art. The Endless Renaissance

Apr 17th through Oct 4th, 2009.

The Bass Museum of Art in South Beach brings historical works together with contemporary works in what is called “a dialogue between the past and the present of art”. In one hand, the exhibition includes works by 17th, 18th, and 19th century masters such as Delacroix, Rubens, Goya, Rigaud and Hoppner. On the other hand, it also includes works from contemporary artists such as Pieter Hugo, Joseph Beuys, Anne Chu, Charles Ledray, Byron Kim, Jonathan Monk and Eve Sussman. While the work and images of masters of the Renaissance are already implanted in our memory, either by art books, museums or just historical continuity, the works of contemporary artists are the ones that jump the most out of the walls.

The work of Pieter Hugo for instance, a young South African photographer, offers a different photographic perspective when it comes to representing Africa to the West. His series The Hyena Men, is an arresting portrait of a cast of men, who besides having a reputation of being criminals, drug dealers or debt enforcers, travel from village to village presenting a circus-like spectacle of trained wild animals. Away from ethnic stereotypes, or mere folk clichés, this series focuses on this unique group of men, whose survival depends on what is offered by their impoverished environment, as well as on the traditions passed to them through countless generations.

Curated by guest curator Steven Holmes, The Endless Renaissance enacts art as contemporary, regardless of the historic time it was created. Works included in the exhibition successfully capture the essence of such statement. It’s not difficult to identify common places between the works, despite the many contrasts between the settings, costumes, and social contexts represented on each of the them.
As we cannot reverse time, and photography was invented just two centuries ago, it is art and its own history what has allowed the curator to establish such connection. Every artwork represents a precise moment in time, carrying invaluable information about the context in which it was created.

From The Endless Renaissance exhibition we could conclude that social notions, whether spiritual, political, economic or cultural, will not prevail over human nature, and it is human nature what produces art. The deeper we look into our past through art, the more we keep seeing ourselves. The Endless Renaissance is on view to the public in the musem’s Gertrude Silverstone Muss Gallery.

Bass Museum of Art
2121 Park Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

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