Art Basel Season Kicks Off with LADY LIBERTY: A BONNIE LAUTENBERG RETROSPECTIVE at Florida's Jewish Museum-FIU

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU kicks off the Art Basel season in Miami Beach with the premiere of new exhibition Lady Liberty: A Bonnie Lautenberg Retrospective (November 16 through March 26).

The solo museum show celebrates powerful images of women from two decades of Lautenberg’s art. The women in these works, spanning her multiple series of photography and conceptual art, are admired by Lautenberg for their spirit of freedom.

Bonnie Lautenberg is an artist, photographer and writer based in New York and Palm Beach. Her works have been featured in gallery shows, museums and art fairs across the country. One of her 2020 Lady Liberty works is currently on display at the New York Historical Society Museum’s Center for the Study of American Culture, in an exhibition about how New York artists found original ways to express their appreciation for healthcare workers during the pandemic .

“Our museum is thrilled to premiere this retrospective of Bonnie Lautenberg’s images of women shining a light on freedom,” said Susan Gladstone Pasternack, the executive director of the Florida-FIU Jewish Museum. “Capturing these women’s independent spark through her art, Bonnie Lautenberg reminds us that we should never take our freedoms for granted.”

“I am so honored to have been selected by the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU during Miami Art Week and Art Basel Miami Beach, especially at this time when women’s issues are at the forefront,” said Bonnie Lautenberg. Located in South Beach at 301 Washington Avenue, in the Historic Art Deco District, the museum is the official museum of the State of Florida, dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, art, and culture.

This exhibition, featuring more than 30 works by Lautenberg, is curated by Jacqueline Goldstein and features new works on display for the first time, created especially for this Lady Liberty museum show. One of these topical new works is Tears of Roe, with tears running down the face of the Statue of Liberty and the word Roe added to her crown, making the headlines for current challenges to women’s freedoms. Another new work from Lautenberg is titled Wanted, in honor of the historical icon Harriet Tubman who bravely led enslaved black people to freedom in the 1800s without ever getting caught. This diptych shows one of the infamous “Wanted” posters of the era that slave owners used to capture Tubman. In addition, Lautenberg juxtaposes historical footage of the abolitionist with actress Cynthia Erivo who portrayed the freedom fighter in the 2019 film Harriet.

In her series of digital collages Art Meets Hollywood, she recognizes femme fatales for breaking barriers in male-dominated times. For Lautenberg, these stars inspired our popular culture with nods to freedom in their own unique ways, including: Barbra Streisand, Viola Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Octavia Spencer, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Olivia Newton-John and more. In each diptych, Lautenberg combines scenes from their famous films with iconic artworks created in the same year as each film. The artist channels the creative zeitgeist these women may have inspired between filmmakers and visual artists during each year she intuitively captures. The museum’s retrospective also includes Lautenberg’s concert photos of Lady Gaga, Andra Day, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry from her Pop Rocks series, as well as images from other series of works she photographed in New York, Israel, Antarctica, Cuba, Italy, California and Asia. “The radiance of each of these women in Lautenberg’s works stands out right now, as the kind of clarity that can help us through difficult times,” said Jacqueline Goldstein, the curator of the Florida-FIU Jewish Museum. “When viewed together working as a group, their intensity multiplies.”

Lautenberg is an acclaimed artist, producer, writer and photographer with multiple projects currently underway nationally. With her partner Steve Leber, Lautenberg is co-producing a new Broadway musical about the life of Andy Warhol, endorsed by the Warhol Foundation. Scheduled to debut in London next year before coming to the US, the new musical is directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, with a book by Rupert Holmes. She is the widow of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, one of Washington’s longest serving senators (from 1982 to 2001, then again from 2003 until his death in 2013). She has been described as having “enough Washington insider stories to fill a book” (her new book will be released next year by Rutgers University Press, about the life of her late husband, Senator Frank Lautenberg, including her photography).

In 2022, Lautenberg was appointed by the White House to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts (PACA), which supports and guides the Kennedy Center, the United States’ National Cultural Center. Lautenberg’s work is in several private and museum collections, including the permanent collections of: The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture; the Boca Raton Art Museum; the collection of Norman and Irma Braman; Museum of the New York Historical Society; the Broad Museum in Los Angeles; the Newark Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum; and Stillman College Art Gallery in Alabama, among others. Her series, How They Changed Our Lives: Senators As Working People, is forever online at the Library of Congress and was exhibited at Mana Contemporary in New Jersey.

Lautenberg’s work has been shown in galleries, art fairs and venues across the country: the Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago; the 92nd Street Y in New York; Monika Olko Gallery at Sag Harbor; Sponder Gallery; the Art Miami fair during Art Basel Miami Beach; the Palm Beach Modern and Contemporary fair; C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich; Vertu visual arts; the Turkish Embassy to the United Nations; the US embassies in Madrid and Berlin; Hamptons Art Market; The White Hall Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY; and Art Southampton scholarship. Her work was featured in the recent gallery show at David Benrimon Fine Art in New York entitled Rethinking America alongside works by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Longo, Kass and Ed Ruscha.

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU is the official museum of the State of Florida dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, art, and culture. The museum is housed in two restored historic buildings that were once synagogues for Miami Beach’s first Jewish congregation. The original synagogue was built in 1929 and the second, built in 1936, was designed by Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser.

While reflective of the Jewish experience spanning more than two centuries across the entire state of Florida, the museum creates an insight into the shared immigrant experience in our multicultural society.

Drawing on the evolving immigration experience of Florida Jews, the museum serves as a forum to foster tolerance, promote global understanding, and make connections to Jewish culture, history, art, and contemporary civic life for a diverse audience . Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the museum has a growing collection of more than 100,000 items and has achieved a standard of excellence in its methodology for researching, collecting, preserving, archiving, storing and interpreting its holdings.

Exhibitions and programs at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU are made possible with support from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the mayor of Miami-Dade and the board of district commissioners; the Miami Foundation; the Miami-Dade County Department of Housing and Community Development; the City of Miami Beach Department of Tourism and Cultural Development, City of Miami Beach Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Mayor and City Commissioners of Miami Beach; the State of Florida Department of State; the Department of Cultural Affairs of the State of Florida; the Florida Council of Arts & Culture; South Jewish Historical Association; Applebaum Foundation; and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Leave a Comment