Art Basel

Here’s the story of the mural just unveiled at the Miami Beach Convention Center

A vibrant mural by Berlin-based artist Franz Ackermann dominates the newly renovated Miami Beach Convention Center.

It was unveiled Tuesday, on the eve of the 17th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach.

Ackermann’s 1,400-square-foot abstract work titled About Sand is “like the title of a story,” the artist told the Miami Herald.

While the work highlights one of Miami Beach’s greatest gifts — “an endless and sandy beach” that signifies “happiness, hedonism, sex and drugs” — Ackermann also views the story of sand in an eternal sense, as in the sands of time. Illustrating this duality of sand and how it plays into tourism and serves as an economic hub for the city, Ackermann focused on the hourglass, the ephemeral nature of life, and how we mark the passage of time. As sand filters through the narrows of the hourglass, so, too, our lives slip away.

His mural serves as a daily reminder to live life to the fullest and in living color.

The first of six public works to be unveiled at the convention center, Ackermann’s mural was deliberately designed to be a showstopper.

Franz Ackermann, About Sand, 2018, MBCC SE Corner (1).jpg
A vibrant mural by Berlin-based artist Franz Ackermann dominates the newly renovated Miami Beach Convention Center. It was unveiled Tuesday, on the eve of the 17th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach.

Based on the southeast corner of the convention center, the artist placed a vertical striped in electric magenta with the hopes of catching the eye of motorists as they travel along Washington Avenue, just past the Fillmore theater. He also designed images at pedestrian eye-level. If you stop and look closely, several images emerge.

Looking directly at the corner of the building, where the mural makes a 90-degree turn, the image of the convention center can be discerned in shades of yellow and blue. Also, various abstract images of hourglasses become visible. The most noticeable is outlined in black and brown and has a series of green lines snaking through the image. They represent the multiple arteries of a highway system.

Other more abstract images feature the glass bowls of an hourglass or triangles representing an inverted hourglass. Ackermann — who also has two other paintings on display at the Meyer Rieger Gallery during Art Basel — devoted an entire year to mapping out the images he would use in his mural.

Because he wanted those images to complement the architectural design of the building, he maintains the project was in a state of flux. Until the building was near completion, he said, it remained uncertain whether the architectural adornment of multiple fins would be part of its façade.

Because the fins slightly overlap the mural, Ackermann ultimately incorporated their presence into his design, which appears as an extension of the fins.

At that point, four people worked for two months to apply the acrylic paint. Given that the mural is public art, Ackermann said he tried to appeal to all sectors of the population, from art enthusiasts to people who simply pass by while en route to the office.

“Public murals outside should reflect the diversity of daily living,” he explained.

Already he’s received a certain level of acceptance he said, noting that when the double-decker tour buses pass by, some tourists take photos of the mural and post them on Instagram.

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