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Miami Art Museum Opens Schneebett by Enrique Martinez Celaya

Miami Art Museum presents the United States debut of Schneebett by Enrique Martinez Celaya a major installation inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven’s convalescence and death in Vienna, Austria in 1827, originally created for the Berliner Philharmonie. Enrique Martínez Celaya: Schneebett will be on view from October 14, 2011 through January 1, 2012 in the Museum’s Anchor Gallery, a space dedicated to large-scale works from the permanent collection. The exhibition opening will take place October 13, 2011 from 6 to 8pm and feature a performance by members of the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

Enrique Martínez Celaya, Schneebett (Snow-bed), 2003-4. Mixed media installation. Dimensions variable. Collection Miami Art Museum, promised gift of Dieter and Si Rosenkranz. Courtesy of Enrique Martínez Celaya.

Schneebett, which reflects on and transports the viewer into the final hours of Ludwig van Beethoven’s life, was the first work of art commissioned for and exhibited at the Berliner Philharmonie since its founding in 1882. It was presented in 2004, and was shown in juxtaposition to the music of the Berliner Philharmoniker with special programming at the American Academy in Berlin. Schneebett was presented again in 2006 at the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig where it offered a counterpoint to Max Klinger’s statue of the heroic Beethoven as the creative genius. The title, Schneebett (“Snow-bed”), is from a poem by Holocaust survivor Paul Celan, a meditation on death. To re-animate the spirit of those celebrated exhibitions, Martínez Celaya created a new version of the installation for Miami Art Museum, which opens with a performance of Beethoven’s late quartets by the Miami Symphony Orchestra. A video of the performance will be on view for the duration of the exhibition.

The three-part installation conveys Beethoven’s final moments in Vienna, far away from his native Bonn.

In one room is a bronze bed, its surface covered in a thick layer of frost created by an elaborate compressor system. Behind it is a large tar-and-feather painting of a dense, snow-covered forest. The entry to the room is blocked by a pile of sticks and branches. On the other side of the blocked doorway is an “ante-chamber” with a solitary chair from which a viewer can peer into the inaccessible “bedroom,” and experience the environment as a memory of what was, or what might have been. The Leipziger Volkszeitung remarked that Beethoven’s presence “literally hovers in the air as sound.”

Schneebett is a promised gift to the museum from German collectors Dieter and Si Rosenkranz.

“Schneebett is a major work by an internationally-renowned artist,” said MAM Senior Curator Peter Boswell. “It will have a special resonance here in Miami since Martínez Celaya, who was born in Cuba, was inspired in part by the thought of Beethoven’s passing away far from Bonn, the city of his birth, which he left at age 21 never to return.”

About Enrique Martínez Celaya
Born in Habana in 1964, Enrique Martínez Celaya worked primarily as a scientist until 1992, when he decided to be an artist, an endeavor he had been pursuing since an early apprenticeship during his teenage years. Marie Louise Knott, editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, which dedicated an entire issue to the artist, stated, “Martínez Celaya’s work reinvents the original magic of art.”

Martínez Celaya studied applied physics at Cornell University and, supported by a fellowship from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, pursued a Ph.D. in Quantum Electronics at the University of California, Berkeley. As a scientist he worked on superconductivity, lasers and laser delivery systems, research for which he was issued an often-cited patent. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine and received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work is represented in such public collections as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He has been the recipient of numerous distinguished awards, including most recently, the honor of being the second Visiting Presidential Professor in the history of the University of Nebraska, and the prestigious Anderson Ranch National Artist Award. Recently, the University of Nebraska Press released Enrique Martínez Celaya: Collected Writings & Interviews, 1990-2010, which traces the development of the artist’s thought throughout his twenty-year career as an artist, writer, and lecturer.

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