All Articles
All Articles

Miami Art Week 2013: Beasts and Birds


Miami Art Week 2013: Beasts and Birds

Captivating works humanize as well as contextualize modern animal art

by David Graver
on 10 December 2013

From the earliest noted iterations of art—paintings upon cave walls—to today's cat-obsessed internet, animals have provided the inspiration behind culture of all kinds. We are awash in imagery of beasts and birds and domesticated pets. But during this most recent Art Week Miami—across all fairs and exhibitions—certain works presented shone an interesting light on why we continue to be mesmerized: We see something human within, and something distinctly animal. While the CH team was taken by quite a few, here's a narrowed-down chronicle of some of our favorites across sculpture and painting.

beast-and-birds-1a.jpg beast-and-birds-1b.jpg

Two of the most moving works, "Smoke Signals" and "Smoking Barrels" by Martin Wittfooth (both 2013) masterfully paint the destruction of our larger wild animals, their environments and the commodification of their parts. Presented by Rick Wester Fine Art at Pulse Miami, these large scale oil-on-canvas works are emotionally jarring and clever, with smoke pouring out of horns and foreheads. A well-placed target seals one of the painting's very clear message.


At the Ornamentum booth at this year's Design Miami, we were impressed by Dutch jewelry designer Ted Noten's latest creation. "Bird Bag" (2013) was finished right before the show and shipped directly to the fair. Cast within the acrylic "purse" is a taxidermy bird, surrounded by found jewelry and a watch. The bird's head was actually constructed using 3D printing, and the sculpture contains silver and gold plating. People keep their pets in purses; magicians pull birds from their sleeves. The piece plays with this while also simply being a beautiful design object.


In one of the most intricate displays, Kris Kuksi's "The Plague Parade Una Quarta" (2013), a wall-mounted mixed media assemblage, overwhelmed with its detail work. A centrally placed winged beast of burden stands ornamented and adorned, surrounded by a mystical city and miniature figures. Dark and darkly powerful, there is a gargoyle-like energy exuded. It was an impressive display from the Joshua Liner Gallery at the second edition of the Miami Project art fair.


"Horsechild" (2013), composed of red pigmented resin was spotted at the Bertrand Delacroix Gallery booth at the Red Dot fair. Artist Beth Carter's vision animalizes humans with an equine blend. The stark nakedness of the piece applies a raw, humanistic emotion to something that is—in fact—bestial. At over two feet in length, it is just as much child as it is horse.

birds-beast-9b.jpg beast-and-birds-9a.jpg

At Pulse Miami, the painted stainless steel mobile "Endless Column" (2011) dazzled with its metamorphosized links of human-like butterfly pixies. The product of sculptor Zadok Ben-David's imagination, each linked winged figure contains precise ornamental detail. The work also extends over seven feet. Ben-David's work was represented by the Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

The wiry, mechanical bird sculpture "Volante" (2012) by artist Jessica Joslin contains an antique delicacy, despite the heaviness of its materials. Born of multiple antique hardware items, including brass, silver, cast plastic and pewter, snakeskin and even glove leather, it conveys the energy of a master tinkerer. Seen at the Lisa Sette Gallery booth at Art Miami, among other similarly constructed works, each gives the sensation of skeletal toys.


Seen thanks to Miami's own Zadok Gallery, "Griffin" (2013) by Enrique Gomez de Molina was literally culled from the remains of other animals. This hybrid beast contained red fox fur, rooster wings and feathers, peacock feet, goat legs and a bull's tail. Together, this Frankenstein-like taxidermy was mythical and elegant. This piece (also shown at Art Miami) contained an uncanniness reminiscent of Kate Clark's "She Gets What She Wants" (2013) drawn from zebra hide, foam and clay. Muriel Guepin Gallery showcased the eerie sculpture at Miami Project. The humanity in the creature's face was shaking, especially in contrast to the zebra body.


In a delicate, pastel-strewn throwback from Hung Liu,"Beauty and the Beast" (1994) brought forth a subtler, impassioned humanity. This oil on canvas work shown by the Rena Bransten Gallery carried a loving sweetness. The gentleness, and the embrace between man and beast solidified a message of love and trust.

Additional reporting by Josh Rubin, Karen Day and Jonah Samson

Image of "Smoke Signals" and "Smoking Barrels" courtesy of Rick Wester Fine Art, Ted Noten and Zadok Ben-David photos by Josh Rubin, all others by David Graver

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard
Loading More...