A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

AT LARGE: Daniel Arsham

Beacon Miami” 2008. Light installation on the I.M. Pei Bank of America tower. Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin Paris and Miami.

Born in Ohio, Daniel Arsham’s artistic career was fostered in Miami. After attending D.A.S.H. he moved to New York to attend Cooper Union, but returned frequently to Miami where he began exhibiting work at The House, an exhibition space established by artists Bhakti Baxter, Martin Oppel and Tao Rey. The success of The House let to Arsham and a number of others gaining support from local notaries such as Bonnie Clearwater, Executive Director and Chief Curator of MOCA North Miami who organized the exhibition “The House at MOCA” and has since supported Arsham and his piers throughout their young careers. The eventual closure of The House owing to Miami’s rampant redevelopment led to Arsham and Oppel opening Placemaker, a gallery which catered specifically to Miami’s emerging artists.

In 2004 after the exhibition “Miami Nice” organized by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin and curated by George Lindemann in Paris, Arsham and a number of other Miami artists were offered representation by Perrotin who was in the process of opening his now defunct gallery in Miami’s Wynwood District. While Perrotin’s Miami gallery was operational, Arsham, spurred by a wealth of local support and the prestige of a top international gallery, benefited greatly from a number of rewarding moves, most notably his collaboration with Merce Cunningham in 2006.

Having garnered a reputation that supersedes that of most of his fellow Miami artists Arsham moved to New York. In addition to maintaining relationships with both Cunningham and Perrotin and participating in a number of group shows where he currently lives and works – namely INVISIBLE-EXPORTS and Haunch of Venison – he is now investing a great deal of energy into architecture, a smoldering interest that until now he has pursued only through his artwork. Continuing out AT LARGE feataure, we caught up with Arsham who shed ample light on both his relationship with Miami and the recent shift in his career.

Alex Mustonen in Daniel Arsham’s New York studio. Courtesy artist.

Why did you leave?

I have been back and forth between Miami and New York for the past few years and it seemed time to establish more of a permanent presence in NYC. I have also started an architecture practice in NYC with my colleague Alex Mustonen. The practice is called Snarkitecture. Rather than make its own architecture, the interest of Snarkitecture lies in the exploration of existing materials within a space and how they might be manipulated to serve new and imaginative purposes. The firm makes architecture do things its not supposed to do. Snarkitecture works on existing architecture or collaborates with architects on existing projects. I also followed my girlfriend Jenny here. She is now working at Aperture books in NYC.

Was it worth it?

Things seem to be moving well and I am happy to be spending time in Miami when it’s cold in NYC.

Are you coming back?

I still maintain my studio in Miami and have projects I am working on in both studios.

If you have maintained healthy ties to Miami please discuss them stating how this was important.

Of course, many of my friends are still in Miami and I am working now on a few different commissions there as well as an exhibition or two. Snarkitecture is also working on a few projects in the Magic City.

Open Staircase” 2006. Epoxy foam, PVC, epoxy resin. 132 x 42 x 34 inches. 2/3 + 1AP. Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin Paris and Miami.

Please compare and contrast New York and Miami in an original way.

architecture in MIAMI is BIG. In New York Architecture is big

What is the most significant difference you have found between professional practice in Miami and where you are now?

In Miami my studio is quiet and secluded. I have rabbits visit me, but that’s about it. In New York many people stop by and it takes longer to get work completed, but I do still get to talk to my rabbit about my work and explain the paintings to her.

Has that affected the way in which you work? If so how?

I’m in the studio 9 am – 6 pm whether I’m in Miami or New York.

Theater Wall Erosions ” 2009. EPS Foam, black paint. 20 feet x 8 feet x 4 inches. Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin Paris and Miami.

How has your work responded to the change?

My work in the last few years has grown to include things connected to but outside a more traditional artistic practice. I think that the different areas that I am now involved in; sculpture, drawing, architecture, stage and lighting design, and performance all inform each other and I find that I can be thinking about all of them in the same way. Being in New York as well as Miami has allowed me to pursue some of these other ventures fully. I have just returned from a new collaboration with Merce Cunningham in Paris and I have begun a new project with another New York based choreographer named Jonah Bokaer called REPLICA. This new piece will be performed at IVAM in Valencia, The New Museum in New York, as well as the Carre d’art de Nîmes in France. I think it would be difficult to collaborate with some of these people if I was only in Miami.

Is the scene as incestuous as in Miami?


Do you value Miami more or less having moved away?

I am in love with Miami on a warm afternoon driving on the 112 expressway listening to pirate radio stations really loud with the windows open.

Are you more stable financially?

A sheet of 4 x 8′ 5/8″ drywall is $7.85 in Miami. The same sheet is $9.25 in NYC[.]


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  • Mr. Arrow

    I really enjoy the AT LARGE pieces on Art Lurker, but also think it would fascinating to hear from the artists who choose to remain in Miami, considering the oppressive heat, geographic seclusion, and fractured, minuscule art scene. I can imagine all the reasons why someone would leave Miami, it is why one would stay that is far more interesting.

    P.S. Daniel’s work is wonderful.
    The architectural interventions are my favorite and are best seen in person. I look forward to seeing his work in the year 2029!

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AT LARGE: Daniel Arsham