Two decades after he helped bring Art Basel to Miami Beach, billionaire philanthropist Norman Braman brought another work of art to the city.
On Wednesday morning, the city of Miami Beach unveiled “Minna,” a 16-foot tall steel mesh sculpture of a woman’s head by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa at Pride Park across the street from the convention center. Braman commissioned and donated the sculpture to Miami Beach as the city welcomes thousands of art collectors, patrons and lovers for Miami Art Week.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber thanked Norman and Irma Braman, the “renaissance couple of our community,” for the sculpture and their philanthropy. Braman is credited with convincing the Swiss Art Basel team to launch a fair in Miami Beach, despite the city’s “Miami Vice” reputation from the ’80s. Since then, Miami became internationally recognized as an arts and cultural hub.
The Plensa sculpture is the first step in turning the green space into a sculpture park, Gelber said. He recalled a conversation he had with Braman about bringing artwork to Pride Park.
“I’ll bring one in for you to start it off,” Braman told him. A year later, he made good on that promise.
Braman, shaded under a classy brimmed hat, said Miami Beach needs a sculptural park just like all the other great cities of the world.
“This is what this park was really designed for,” Braman said. “It’s absolutely beautiful.”
Plensa, an internationally celebrated sculptor who is based in Barcelona, said he is honored to be the first artist to install a permanent sculpture at Pride Park.
“The beauty is to take art out of the museum, out of the gallery, out of the art fair, and to share the beauty with the community,” Plensa said. “I think it’s a very democratic way to share art with others.”
The sculpture, which is see-through, is based on a real woman, a model named Minna whom Plensa met in Sweden. Minna has a “beautiful aura,” which made her the perfect fit for a sculpture about hope, love and compassion.
“The most important things in life are invisible,” Plensa said.
This story was produced with financial support from The Pérez Family Foundation, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The Miami Herald maintains full editorial control of this work.