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The Art of Illumination

A transformative light installation, The Art of Illumination extends the world of The Wolfsonian beyond the galleries and into the fabric of Miami Beach's vibrant nightlife. The initiative employs an innovative system of lighting design and digital technology to project contemporary art videos and animations on the museum's landmark facade after sunset.

The Art of Illumination is made possible through the generous support of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a Knight Arts Challenge Grant, with matching funds provided by The Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Stephen H. Cypen, President; Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz; and Woolems Construction.

Commissions

  • 2019 | Leo Castañeda: Live Inventory

    Live Inventory is a 3D animation by Leo Castañeda, an award-winning Miami-based artist. Combining game-engine techniques with 3D-scan models from The Wolfsonian's collection, Castañeda brings artworks to life, as machine-age items from the exhibition A Universe of Things: Micky Wolfson Collects mutate into surreal virtual entities bound within uncanny display cases. In his mind-bending video, Castañeda dissolves the frontiers between objects, characters, and space, probing the impact of digitization on the evolution of everyday designs and our preconceptions about the human experience.

  • 2018 | H5: Enter the Design Age

    Enter the Design Age is a response to a challenge: how to make a bold statement about the museum’s contents and mission through head-turning typography and graphics. This pulsating black-and-white video offers an animated timeline of key objects in the collection, inviting people to enter and discover what’s inside. H5 created the animation in conjunction with a vinyl installation on the west side of the building presented during Miami Art Week 2018.

  • 2018 | Ezra Wube: Future Past

    Ethiopian-born American artist Ezra Wube is fascinated by how places evolve over time. His videos, which have a stop-motion effect generated from photos of continually re-worked paintings, delve into the history and changing landscape of cities around the world. For his Art of Illumination submission, Wube captured the unique character of man-made Miami Beach, from its origins as a mangrove swamp to its Art Deco heyday and the neon-nightlife playground of today. (Clip only)

  • 2016 | Christie van der Haak: More Is More

    Dutch artist Christie van der Haak, known for her signature kaleidoscopic designs, activated The Wolfsonian's exterior and lobby for her installation More Is More, a contemporary response to the museum's major exhibition Modern Dutch Design. The eye-popping colors and patterns, with roots in tapestry design and Javanese batik technique, are hand-drawn and -colored before van der Haak mirrors, digitizes, and magnifies them for larger-than-life installations—an effect made especially palpable in the building projection of her work shown at night.

  • 2014 | Hervé Descottes + L'Observatoire International: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America

    Designer Hervé Descottes envisioned a refresh of his original Art of Illumination project for this revisit in 2014. This time remixing images reflective of Norman Bel Geddes from the traveling exhibition I Have Seen the Future, organized by the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin, Descottes' video animates the futuristic models, iconic objects, and seminal designs that established Bel Geddes' legacy.

  • 2013 | Hervé Descottes + L'Observatoire International: Illuminating the Arts

    For its launch, The Art of Illumination featured the work of New York lighting designer Hervé Descottes, founder and principal at L'Observatoire International. Descottes enlivened the museum's collection by creating an "explosion" of Wolfsonian collection images. Sculptures, posters, ceramics, and more danced across the facade in a playful video collage that expressed the great variety of mediums and styles encompassed in The Wolfsonian's 200,000+ objects.

Partner Projects

  • 2020 | Various Artists: #CombatCOVID

    In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Poster House and Print Magazine commissioned leading graphic artists to create poster designs for display throughout New York City that share public safety guidance, foster a sense of community, and express deep gratitude to doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, janitorial staff, shippers, and other essential workers. The #CombatCOVID project quickly expanded to other communities affected by COVID-19 and made its southern debut at The Wolfsonian. Featured designers and collectives included Pablo Delcan, Matt Dorfman, Joe Hollier, Maira Kalman, Richard McGuire, Pablo Medina, Gemma O’Brien, Emily Oberman, Strick & Williams, Klaas Verplancke, and Zipeng Zhu.

  • 2020 | MDCPS Students: If Toasters Could Talk

    Free verse, sonnets, haikus. For National Poetry Month, poems come to life—and light—with If Toasters Could Talk, an activation created in partnership with O, Miami Poetry Festival's Sunroom project and featuring the voices of students in two Miami-Dade County Public School classrooms. Imagining themselves as a toaster, a King George VI mug, a ruffler (a what?!), a toy trailer, and more, kids in grades 3 and 4 answered the question we’ve all been wondering: what do these inanimate objects have to say?

  • 2016 | Various Artists: Thoughts on Democracy

    In the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, The Wolfsonian displayed a follow-up exhibition to its 2008 project Thoughts on Democracy, which commissioned sixty contemporary artists to create new work reimagining Norman Rockwell's Second World War-era Four Freedoms paintings. Images of their original posters, designed eight years and one two-term president earlier, were projected on the museum in 2016 to tie together the two Rockwell-inspired cycles of Thoughts on Democracy.