The process every artist uses to create art is unique. At the de la Cruz Collection in Miami’s Design District, the newest exhibition, Looking at Process, features artists and works highlighting the techniques behind the art itself.
In some cases, that theme is readily apparent in this show. Take Mark Bradford’s distressed graphic collages featuring found street posters and billboards that are stacked and peeled to reveal the layers underneath. And Wade Guyton’s solid black images inkjet-printed onto giant rolls of white linen to create towering monochrome works that line one wall.
But in other works, the process is more obscure. Such is the case with canvases by Rudolph Stingel, who uses screenprint and silver paint to create commentary on what defines a painting, and Glenn Ligon, who uses black coal dust on his works as an homage to Andy Warhol’s diamond dust paintings.
The exhibition highlights a new chapter in Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz’s work as collectors. Rosa de la Cruz says she is not buying art as voraciously as she once did. In the past, she says, she often bought a significant number of works during Art Basel, but this year she purchased only a handful. “I think we have reached the point in our lives where we have to narrow the focus of our collection,” she said in a recent interview.
For de la Cruz, the emphasis now is on artists whose work blurs the lines among sculpture, paintings, performance and mixed media.
“I’m trying to group ... a generation of artists that are not defining themselves as painters or sculptors. ... I’m interested in these young American [and some European] artists that are working without trying to have a narrative, without trying to create preciousness out of art.” In other words, art that isn't merely pretty or that doesn't necessarily tell a story.
Also featured in the exhibition is work by local artist Cristina Lei Rodriguez. One of her sculptures, Divider, is a large, square-shaped sculpture that looks like a thin sheet of raw amethyst hooked to a metal stand. Another, Fluorescence, features several sets of fluorescent lights lined against a wall to comment on the process gemologists use to determine the authenticity of amethysts.
“The works in the project room are inspired by looking at stones, minerals and gems,’’ Rodriguez says. “Not only how they look, but the process of how stones are made. So my work goes back and forth between the natural and artificial.”
Also new on display is the massive Us, a new work by Rob Pruitt encompassing 253 rainbow-colored paintings. In each quadrant Pruitt has drawn a crude outline of a face, each expressing a unique personality; together, they convey the broad emotional range of sadness, joy, disappointment, hurt, excitement.
The work is the manifestation of Pruitt’s deeply personal childhood memories of his father, who often took him to museums. There, they would stand in front of spare color field paintings by Mark Rothko and would jokingly say that the paintings would be more interesting if they had a face drawn over them. His father would then pretend to draw two eyes and a face over the paintings.
In the current exhibition, Us is grouped fittingly with a work by Pruitt’s one-time teacher, Félix González-Torres, who pays homage to his own father in Untitled (Portrait of Dad), with a small pile of round white candy that is constantly replenished. The work is often thought of as a representation of the cycle of life.
One of the surprises of this exhibition is the newness of the works. The vast majority were made in the 21st century and come from artists whose work is shown in other prestigious museums but whose names have not yet reached “household’’ status. For many visitors, this show will be the first encounter with a new generation of great American artists.
Among those notable artists is Isa Genzken, whose sculptures using ordinary objects and materials have earned her a retrospective currently on display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which calls her “one of the most influential female artists of the past 30 years.” That exhibition happens feature two works on loan from the de la Cruz Collection.
Probably the most buzzworthy name in the exhibition is Christopher Wool, currently featured in a blockbuster retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim. It, too, features work on loan from the de la Cruz Collection. The Wools now on display in the Design District are two stark black-and-white works that employ a number of deliberate processes including screen-printing, and adding and removing layers of enamel to create a work that looks spontaneous.
While the Looking at Process exhibition represents a new perspective on the part of its collectors, the de la Cruzes remain committed to art education. The museum remains free to the public, as are its artist lectures and summer workshops. The couple also continues to provide free trips for student artists to European art capitals and tickets to Art Basel for DASH students.
“This collection is playing the role of the public institution, but it’s a completely private institution,” says director Ibett Yanez. “The motto and the formula that’s in place is that the collection is public, and it’s for the community.”