Miami’s Master

On the evening of Thursday, December 3, the most notable art collectors will not be on Miami Beach at the Convention Center for Art Basel. As it turns out, there is something more pressing—and impressive—for aficionados to do that evening. They will be gathered in Wynwood at Gary Nader Fine Art for a private dinner and exhibition opening of two of the most important collections to ever come to South Florida.

Gary Nader Fine Art is the largest and most important fine art gallery in South Florida, with a 55,000-square-foot gallery space in the heart of Wynwood. This impressive stature also makes it the largest private gallery in the world. Put it in perspective: this is the same square footage as the White House. So filling the many walls with fine works would seem like a nearly impossible undertaking, yet the gallery is overflowing with the most important Modern, Contemporary and Latin American artists; works by Lam, Kahlo, Rivera, Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall are joined by the world’s largest collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures by the most celebrated living Latin American artist—Fernando Botero.

These objects typically are displayed throughout the massive gallery, but they are in the midst of being relocated in preparation for one of the most exciting exhibitions to ever come to Miami: Matta: A Retrospective, showcasing an outstanding selection of works by the Chilean master. “This is important because Matta is probably the most influential figure on American artists,” explains Gary Nader. “When he came to live in New York in 1939, he influenced the abstract expressionist American artists, which are the greatest artists in American history—such as Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning.”

I am speaking with Nader in his office in the gallery, which sits off the main exhibition space. The large white room, which has glass windows so the gallerist can absorb the beauty of his collection while perched behind his desk, also is filled with priceless works, including what is thought to be Master Matta’s first painting (Crusifiction, an oil work from 1938 that Nader bought at auction in 1999). Leaning against the wall, it waits for the gallery to be rearranged for the show. Our conversation is taking place merely two weeks before the opening, and there is work to be done. The Matta exhibit will include 50 of the artist’s most important pieces, which Nader mainly gathered from private collections that were sold originally by the gallery. Some 20 of these will be for sale, with an additional 20 up for grabs but not in the gallery itself—there simply wasn’t enough space, believe it or not.

While 20 of the Mattas are already in the gallery, the rest of the exhibit is still en route from various destinations around the globe.