On the Lam

Wifredo Lam's peripatetic life and exotic background combined for a compelling blend of human elements

Not surprisingly, Lam and Matta crossed paths in Paris, although I have yet to find any definitive references to any conscious artistic cross-pollination between the two. Years later, however, both were featured in an exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York, leaving us to speculate at what an extraordinary show that must have been. You can also get a sense of the overlap in a masterly painting such as La rumeur de la terre (Rumblings of the Earth) (1950), which also carries more than a whiff of Picasso's Guernica.

If you're pleased with Lam at MAM — and if you aren't, I'm not sure if I want to know you — you can further enhance your museumgoing by stopping off at the Gary Nader Gallery in the Wynwood arts district on your way out of town. Nader, one of the top Miami showcases for Latin American art, is piggybacking on the MAM exhibition with "Wifredo Lam: A One-Man Show," which is almost as impressive as its institutional counterpart.

Lam's Afro-Cuban heritage comes into play in his trademark mask-like faces.
Lam's Afro-Cuban heritage comes into play in his trademark mask-like faces.


"Wifredo Lam in North America" and "Wifredo Lam: A One-Man Show" "Wifredo Lam in North America" is on display through May 18 at the Miami Art Museum, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; call 305-375-1706. "Wifredo Lam: A One-Man Show" runs through the end of May at the Gary Nader Gallery, 62 NE 27th St., Miami; call 305-576-0256.

Unlike many such satellite shows, which often consist of little more than a few lithographs, Nader's is the real thing, a full-scale retrospective with dozens of Lam oil paintings, many of them of museum quality. Between these two first-rate exhibitions, you can see in one day more Lam originals than most people will ever see in a lifetime. It's an experience I highly recommend.

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