It’s not easy to highlight just some of the 100-plus works in the expansive exhibit at the Gary Nader gallery, the Master Pieces from the Berardo Collection. There are works here from almost every important artist from the 20th century, and some from the 21st.
Yes, we are talking Manet and Miro, Rauschenberg and Rosenquist, Lam and Lichtenstein and many, many more. They come from the collection of one of Portugal’s richest men, José Berardo; the exhibit includes examples from most major modern and contemporary art trends from Europe, the United States and Latin America over the last hundred years.So where to start? The exhibit is not organized chronologically, so it doesn’t matter much. The groupings are more thematic, inviting viewers to discover the foundations of a genre or explore the threads of influence from one generation of artists to another.
For instance, one remarkable section is filled with abstract explorations of color — or, some would say, very limited color. Look closely at the all-black 1962 Ad Reinhardt oil on canvas, Abstract Painting, and you’ll see that subtle degrees of shades emerge; the black is not uniform after all. The classic piece helps explain why Reinhardt was a trail-blazing painter. As a founding father of abstract painting, he rejected more emotional expressionist gestures, leading him to his single-color canvases.
It’s easier to discern the changes in hues in the stunningly beautiful Josef Albers’ 1964 Study for Homage to the Square: Blond Autumn. Yet the blond and sand squares remain in the same color family. The all off-white Superficie Bianca from Enrico Castellani from 1967 uses small, raised points on the canvas to make its tonal change effect, while the black-and-tan 1960 work from Lucio Fontana also plays with textural visuals — it looks like a physical slit in a brown canvas, but created by waterpaint.
This area is quiet compared to works from the likes of Bacon and Basquiat, yet it shouts out why this show is important. We can see, and study, how painting evolved from the first abstract and semi-abstract artists from the early part of the 20th century; the narrative and the figurative has literally been erased by the time Reinhart’s black paintings arrive. In other words, trekking through Nader’s second floor exhibit is really a trip through art history.
Nader not only curated this show but also, as a dealer, helped Berardo build his collection, which is why it is making its premiere in Miami. Calling Nader’s sprawling Wynwood space a “gallery” anymore is misleading, and in fact, it is now officially the Gary Nader Art Centre.
“Like a museum, many of the works here are just on display — 50 percent is not for sale,” he says of his hybrid space. Masterpieces is so far the most comprehensive survey of modern and contemporary art there, hands down. “Every single piece has been shown prominently somewhere,” he says. “From Picasso to Duchamp, the Surrealists to Pop and Minimalist art, they are all historically important.” He points out that there are also significant works from all over Latin American.
So it’s not a surprise that Nader would like to see as many young people and children pass through the space as an educational experience.