Left: Ugo Rondinone, Miami Mountain, 2016. Stone, paint, steel. Collection of The Bass, purchased with the John and Johanna Bass Acquisition Fund. Photo © Zachary Balber. Courtesy of The Bass, Miami Beach. Right: Bouquet of Tulips by Jeff Koons is to stand in front of the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris and the Palais de Tokyo. Photograph: Jeff Koons via Normontartproduction
Jeff Koons cannot seem to find a place to plant his Tulips. No one in France can agree on where to place the sculpture he designed to commemorate the victims of the 2015 Paris terror attacks. In fact, deciding on the public site for the work has been a struggle from the start, illustrating just how hard it can be to bring new public art to an old public space. Sometimes the placement of public art creates waves, other times it creates mountains – mountains of admiration.
When the Charleston Gazette came to Miami, they toured many of Dade County’s cultural destinations. The reporters visited PAMM, ICA Miami, as well as The Bass, which has been newly renovated. And when their trip was over, with only a finite amount of time left, they came back to The Bass for a second look at Ugo Rondinone’s Miami Mountain. Two years after installation, this monumental work of art is so excellent that it still requires several visits… even for art world professionals.
I have been active in the contemporary art world for over twenty years. Rarely have I had the privilege of being involved with a public work of art that has so readily been accepted and loved by its local community as well as the worldwide art community. Ugo Rondione is a world-class artist for sure. But great artists don’t always make great work that the public accepts. In fact, great work is rather rare. Why am I so sure Rondinone’s Miami Mountain is great? And why I am I sure it works so well in its public home? Here are seven reasons why.
- The Mountain sure packs a big punch. You can see it all the way down Collins Avenue and the bright colors act as a beacon for Collins Park and The Bass.
- The work is accessible to all. Whether or not you like contemporary art, you like Rondinone’s rocks. Children and adults alike love the colors, the scale and the materials. How often has an institution installed a forty-foot sculpture in a historic park and only received happy and laudatory letters? Not often.
- The materials are very climate resilient. Salt water, wind and sun have a hard time damaging Miami Mountain. It is after all only made of painted rocks.
- The different vibrant colors represent to me, all that make Miami Beach great. We are a welcoming, multicultural, progressive-minded city. The sum of our different color and shaped residents (and rocks) add up to so much more than any one resident (or one rock).
- Ugo Rondinone is gay, Miami Beach has a strong LGBQT community, and those rocks sure look like a rainbow flag to me.
- It’s always tricky to compare one work of art to another, BUT, Chicago has its Anish Kapoor “Bean.” Now, Miami Beach has its rocks.
- Miami Mountain became iconic the moment it was installed. The artwork has and continues to capture the social media world. It has been posted, liked and viewed so many times that I have lost count. A trip to Miami Beach is now not complete without a Miami Mountain selfie. Now that really rocks.