A few malls have art, a very few have good art, but almost none have the button-pushers and immersive installations that the Aventura Mall features. Get to know a Florida Mall where art meets design!
About a dozen years ago, Soffer, the CEO of Turnberry Associates, began buying artworks for the 2.8-million square-foot Aventura Mall, one of the largest in America. On the way to that property north of Miami now is Robert Indiana’s iconic sculpture Love, snapped up at a Christie’s auction last month for $1.87 million.
Artists on view include pioneers or buzzy contemporary players like Louise Bourgeois, Wendell Castle, Lawrence Weiner, Julian Opie, and Daniel Arsham. There’s a 93-foot-long slide by artist Carsten Höller, who had another one in London’s Tate Modern museum.
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At first glance, it all seems highly unlikely, but—much like Steve Wynn’s groundbreaking Bellagio Hotel, which signaled to a certain set that the luxury property in Las Vegas had Picassos—the art immediately and wordlessly brands the shopping center.
The Aventura art collection is a smattering of small limited editions and some unique site-specific commissions for the mall. There’s a light bias toward local artists, but Miami’s art scene is powerhouse enough so that the phrase doesn’t have the parochial “famous within state limits” meaning it usually does. FriendsWithYou, designers of a whimsical playground in the Aventura Mall, were from Miami but but they just achieved an unusual distinction for contemporary artists of having a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade—on top of exhibitions in Korea, France, and Hong Kong.
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Perhaps the biggest surprise of having the art collection in the mall, says Soffer, has been the unexpected number of adults, rather than kids, who want to take pictures with the pieces. An outdoor fountain of spouting bronze gorillas and animals by The Haas Brothers is, if anything, even more popular when bad weather forces the mall to turn off the water—because fans can get much closer to the figures.
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