Just as history repeats itself, so does art.
The U.S. borrowed from old Rome and Greece to create Washington, D.C., among other places. America's first superstar painter, portraitist Benjamin West, spent most of his career in England, and it shows.
If you want to know what sort of lives peoples of old led, one look at their visual culture - what they built, drew, painted, sculpted - will tell you. A mere glance at cave art, for example, and you understand that hunting was the main activity.
The same goes for Miami Beach with its fun-looking Art Deco architecture. A modern style, sensuous and fluid, boasts a French confection called Arts Decoratif. The Paris fashion was reborn at America’s Riviera as Tropical Deco. It was a time of the Great Depression and Art Deco was meant to lift troubled spirits. Its sleekness gave visual expression to the notion of smoothing troubles away.
Writer Leicester Hemingway (Ernest's brother) reporting on Miami Beach architecture, cited the Depression and how people needed to let go, and how architects were determined not to use the old Spanish style usually found in Florida. www.examiner.com/article/an-unlicensed-architect-gave-florida-a-legacy-i... noted how Art Deco smoothed everything in sight, until you got the feeling that life was smooth.
Now it looks like Miami Beach will enrich its trademark look with a Deco art collection to go with it - more than 300 paintings, statues, ceramics, glass and silverware by Art Deco designers like Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Rene Jules Lalique.
Jose Berardo, a Portuguese entrepreneur in Florida, intends to lend his collection to a Miami-based institution for up to five years:
“We’ve been talking about loaning my Art Deco collection to a Miami institution for years,” said Berardo. “If the right place can be found, I could lend the works for up to five years. The one condition is that the city does not charge visitors to see an exhibition of works drawn from my collection.”
The mayor of Miami, Tomás Regalado, has welcomed Berardo’s offer. And Cathy Leff, the director of the Wolfsonian-FIU, says she “could be interested in discussing possibilities” with the collector.
Greats, but why stop there? How about flappers in cloche hats, bobbed hair and cupid's-bow mouths strolling the beach? Time for another boost.