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When art communicates identity

There are some obvious reasons why corporations buy art, but in the last few decades, the number of large corporations acquiring significant art has surprisingly increased in a sociological and cultural phenomenon. Corporate lobbies and board rooms are often graced with impressive art, but why? What’s the rationale behind this expense?

Corporate collecting has been around since 1959 when David Rockefeller decided that Chase Manhattan Bank should begin to buy art. Other banks followed his lead and started purchasing art pieces and create collections of their own. This market behavior derived from what is now a common feature in any prestigious company. In 2019, the largest corporate art collection in the world belonged to a bank — Deutsche Bank which owns over 70 000 pieces throughout the years.

Ascaso Gallery

A corporation’s interest in art is most often to build a collection of elements, a get-together, that shapes a symbol and that symbol to be capable of adhering to the highest commercial standards, while it also must consider the needs and style of its corporate personality.

A piece of work may be very suitable for corporate collections if it can reach two or more of the following needs: Reflecting and Enhancing the corporate image of the company, fulfilling the percent-for-law requirements, being a great investment, being pleasing to the eye, and of course, improving the working environment and productivity by decorating workspace walls.

However, many of these things changed ever since. In the past, the selection of artworks was very much reliant on the desires of the CEO, even when art experts were a part of the process. The CEO purchased art that appealed to his or her taste and then kept it at the company’s headquarters, hidden from the view of the public and other employees.

Art curator

Not only the company seeks out publicity regarding their collection, but pieces are usually be displayed within the premises so that visitors can see it. When art is properly presented it can create a talking point which opens up a window of opportunity for the company to discuss their involvement in the arts thus further boosting the corporate image.

As corporate collecting begin to take off in the late XX century the focus begun to change. Soon boards of directors and head of companies realized that the best way to use corporate collections is to embed them it into every part of the organization. Since many corporate interiors looked the same, artworks on the walls were used to separate companies from the competition. Also, artworks were used to create a statement and send it to clients.

A visually pleasing painting, sculpture or installation is there to start a conversation and show the clients that the company has a good taste. Investing in art exposes the capability of a dynamic company to follows trends. Buying works by young, rising artists is also seen as a great way to show off the philanthropic side of a business.

In words of cognitive neuroscientist Aracelli Camargo: “Any space without change can become un-stimulating with time.” Some updating in space location for the artworks will make the office more visually interesting and subsequently “more neurologically stimulating,” Camargo claims. By using art to make constant little changes, corporations can make people feel as if these work-orientated spaces are constantly evolving.

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A comedic act of rebellion

So far, it’s certainly sure you have already heard about the banana duct-taped to a wall at an art fair in Miami. And maybe you so did the crowds, have created their own gestures. And you might already have a firm opinion about the hundred and fifty thousand dollar banana.

Let’s get the facts in front of us. A piece of work, titled ‘Comedian’ by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was presented at this gallery booth at Art Basel Miami, a fair which has been held since 2002. 

The following sequence demonstrates once again that fiction overcomes reality. First: Cattelan tapes a banana in the gallery of the Art Basel art fair: it was sold to a French collector for $ 120,000. Second: a guy named David Datuna, an American artist, walks towards the banana, takes it off the wall, peels it and eats it. And it is filmed. A happening has taken place, let’s say.

This brings us once again the controversy over what is a work of art and what is not. And for a greater degree of interest, this time we talked about two acts: the gesture of sticking the banana on the wall and, then, of eating the work.


Conceptual art arises in the second half of the XX. Take things from Dadaism and Surrealism, a phenomenon born as a reaction to the First and Second World War. The truth, say theorists, is that in this type of work, the object or event produced is not by virtue of its aesthetic qualities in the ordinary sense, but of the critical, paradoxical, provocative, controversial, sarcastic character that accompanies the act of proposing such a thing as a work of art.

The list of works of this type is endless. John Cage and his work of silence in 1952 (someone sits on the piano and plays nothing): the works of the Serbian Marina Abramovic (like the one who sat for 700 hours in a museum to look at the public); the Argentine Alberto Greco making chalk circles on passersby in Buenos Aires; Cuban Tania Bruguera, in 2009, sat at a table reading her reflections on political art while taking a gun and trigger as in a Russian roulette.

MIAMI BEACH, FL – DECEMBER 06: People post in front of Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian” presented by Perrotin Gallery and on view at Art Basel Miami 2019 at Miami Beach Convention Center on December 6, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. Two of the three editions of the piece, which feature a banana duct-taped to a wall, have reportedly sold for $120,000. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

But the nature of ‘Comedian’ contrasts significantly with these examples. That is when the question is no longer “what is art?” but what is not? Therefore, the “idea” of a banana attached to the wall goes from being a work of art to becoming a meme, and so we come to: is it a meme, a conceptual work of art?

According to the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, art is an act of resistance against death, a defensive fact that aims to transcend the life of thought, the work of the human being, shape it in time and space. Then, in the case of memes, its existential moment would be the current moment and its fundamental geography would correspond to the cybernetic web.

The repetition of an idea is also a social, political and aesthetic manifestation of a historical-cultural context. In the past, conceptual works were born in a context of crisis and rebellion, but not as a passive reflection of them, but as refraction: actively building their own unique language in art.

As Ernst Gombrich put it, “every art history is not a history of the progress of technical improvements, but a history of changing ideas and demands”. So, stepping in 2020, the continuity of these provocative works implies a resignification of the current crises and political rebellions that caused them to be born?

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2019’s Ascaso Rewind


Beyond the much commented dilemma about whether this year is the end of a decade, 2019 has been a great year for art and for its projection at the gallery level, which served as the main showcase for the creative trends of the coming times.

We have prepared a selection of the events, fairs and exhibitions that marked 2019 for ascaso gallery as an institution, and as a dissemination platform for the most representative exponents of modern art in America and in the world.

Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary Art Fair 2019 // Source:

Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary Art Fair 2019

Presented by Art Miami and hosted by the City of West Palm Beach, this third edition was featured in a 65,000 square foot pavilion offered collectors, art connoisseurs and art world luminaries the opportunity to acquire investment quality Blue Chip contemporary, Post-War works from 60 top international galleries from as far as Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Venezuela.

Expo Chicago 2019

Expo CHICAGO concluded its eighth edition with a record attendance of international collectors and curators alongside 38,000 visitors, exceptional presentations from exhibiting galleries and strong sales, in what was its most global edition to date. The fair welcomed back many collectors, curators, artists and art enthusiasts who could enjoy several new additions, whose ambitious presentations drew critical praise. 

Expo Chicago 2019 // Source:

The Armory Show 2019

This 25th-year edition was originally conceived to buoy up a stagnated art scene. The event this year featured a fantastically diverse and thought-provoking array of work, from the legendary 60s artist Faith Ringgold’s quilts dedicated to black activists, to Jeffrey Deitch’s presentation of Ai Weiwei’s lego zodiac animals, to The Breeder’s eclectic selection of cutting edge Greek art. 

Abstract & Figurative Art from Venezuelan Artists of the 20th Century

One of our main dishes was an ambitious exhibition within the frame of ArtBasel Miami Beach 2018 that reviews the most important artistic tendencies in Venezuela during the 20th century. Figuration and Abstraction are the two languages that have defined the panorama of visual arts in Venezuela during the last century, that’s why this exhibition included 12 Venezuelan artists of great experience in the international art circuit. Artists whose works are fundamental references to understand the evolution of both figurative art and Abstraction in its most diverse expressions such as, for example, kinetics. The list of participating figurative artists: Héctor Poleo, Armando Reverón, Armando Barrios, Alirio Palacios, Carmelo Niño, Francisco Narváez, and Cornelis Zitman. Abstract art meanwhile represented by Jesus Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Francisco Salazar and Rafael Barrios and Victor Valera. 

Armando Reveron, Nochebuena 1948
Jesús Rafael Soto, Mural 1967

Julio Larraz: Behind the curtain of dreams

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its foundation, Ascaso Gallery presents at its dazzling new headquarters in the cultural-artistic heart of Miami an exceptional selection of paintings and sculptures by master Julio Larraz, one of the most representative artists of the neo-figurative painting panorama of the 20th and 21st century. The showcase contemplates twenty large-scale paintings produced recently, some barely seen and others never before exhibited on the occasion of this exhibition. This exhibition has been due to its artistic and cultural reach, a must for collectors, critics, gallery owners, curators and art lovers in general. A unique opportunity to approach the magnificent works of this great Neo-Figuration master.

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To create in exile

As four million of their compatriots, many Venezuelan artists have been forced to emigrate. Far away for the homeland, the searching for a muse’s calling continues.

The exodus of Venezuelans outside its borders has also brought Venezuelan talent to other places. Venezuelan artists become famous for their art that adorns galleries, or public works, or they go viral on social media.

Other Venezuelans see this art through the streets of the cities that are now part of their day to day life. They are unaware that behind each colorful stroke hides the Venezuelan tricolor with its seven white stars, the one they were taught to draw since preschool, making a singular arc on the navy blue.

Zarabanda con Piso Azul, 2010 / Oswaldo Vigas

Expressing themselves through different media and themes, these creators belong to a consolidated and energetic group that is culturally and economically impacting the growing art scene of South Florida and the rest of the US.

Arts professionals have participated in daily demonstrations, banners and protest posters, directing performances with high political load, as well as those who have chosen to attract the attention of the audience towards unique and abstract concepts, instead.

Physichromie N 2406, 2002 Mixed media on aluminum 100 x 200 cm 39.3 x 78.7 in

Artists are also recording history by documenting protests in photography and video, leading to a massive documentary project that, beyond the political dye, explores aesthetic features and the search for identity in the creative diaspora.

What previous generations of Venezuelan artists could not see at the time, is now possible. There is the illusion of contributing through artistic expression to the construction of a lost country. The country that served as a cradle for names like Reverón, Loyola, Soto or Cruz-Diez, or many others that are even considered nationals of the lands where they settled, at different times.


Through the ages, art has been a mirror of what an uncomfortable generation has had to live with the establishment. Art is made today by living artists. As such, it reflects the complex issues that shape our diverse, global, and rapidly changing world. Through their work, many contemporary artists explore personal or cultural identity, offer critiques of social and institutional structures, or even attempt to redefine art itself.

In the process, they often raise difficult or thought-provoking questions without providing easy answers. Curiosity, an open mind, and a commitment to dialogue and debate are the best tools with which to approach a bunch of artists, with a continuous necessity to express that. 

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Our new gallery: A moving ahead space

Here’s the thing, it’s 1989 and collector Antonio Ascaso establishes the headquarters for a new art gallery in Valencia, Venezuela. The purpose is to showcase prominent co fellow Latin-American emerging artists and give them visibility in the competitive world-class art world.

In 2002, Ascaso Gallery inaugurates a 21,500 square foot four-story building designed by Jaime Cardenas in Caracas and fastly becoming one of the most relevant Latin American Gallery in the Americas. Ascaso Gallery emphasized in museum-quality exhibitions and projecting Venezuelan consecrated maestros as well as contemporary artists.

By December 2010, the gallery opens a third location in the trendy Wynwood Arts District of Miami, Florida. The gallery grows while diversifying as a referential space into modern and contemporary art.

With a program that has run for thirty years supporting artists like Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez since their early stages, in 2019 Ascaso Gallery relocates to a new exhibition space in the Arts & Entertainment District.

With this major movement, the Gallery seeks to deliver an ambitious program dedicated to Modern and Contemporary Art and its capacity within the local and international context. This new atmosphere holds an 11,500 square foot space in Downtown Miami, Florida, near the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts just a few blocks North from The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).

The gallery’s roster includes major historical master artists and newly discovered authors and creators. Over the years, The gallery has undertaken representation of Jesús Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, Luis Tomasello, Victor Vasarely, Victor Valera, Dario Pérez Flores, Oswaldo Vigas, Julio Larraz, Francisco Narváez, Rafael Barrios, Fernando Botero, Cornelis Zitman, James Mathison, Jiménez Deredia, Alirio Palacios, José Antonio Dávila, Ignacio Iturria, Carlos Medina, Santiago Medina, Carmelo Nino, Arturo Correa, Arturo Michelena, Armando Reverón, Hector Poleo and Feliciano Carvallo. Ascaso gallery’s collection also encompasses Jim Dine, Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Salvador Dalí, Manolo Valdés, Wilfredo Lam, Fernando de Szyszlo, Rolando Peña, Vik Muñiz, and Francisco Salazar, among others.

Still, its branch in Caracas and its headquarters in Valencia possess as their most precious assets a lengthy trajectory and well-earned prestige in the art market, offering the general public an important portfolio of artists and works, characterized by the ample variety of their exhibitions and unmatched quality of their services.

By reaching Florida almost a decade ago, our institution assumed the chance to offer the people of Miami and its surroundings a new alternative for cultural and artistic interaction, fostering encounters, introducing proposals of various tendencies and projecting many different manifestations of contemporary and modern art in their salon.

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Behind the dreams of a symbol

A symbol is a sensitive and nonverbal representation of a complex idea, and that results from a process of assimilation and synthesis of that idea in a culture. The word originates from the Latin term simbŏlum, and it comes from the Greek σύμβολον (symbolon). It is formed from the root without, which means ‘with’, ‘together’ or ‘united’, and ballein, which means ‘launch’. Therefore, in an etymological sense, a symbol is that which is thrown to unite.

The symbols have the function of transmitting complex or abstract ideas, whose density is difficult to summarize in everyday language. They do not explain the concepts as language does, but they allow those concepts to be communicable and understandable by exposing both the unconscious and the subconscious.

Au Revoir , 2016 Oil on canvas 60 x 72 in 152 x 183 cm

Therefore, the symbols allow mediating between the visible and the invisible, the concrete and the abstract. That is why the image of a ship that at first glance seems common, can instead mean a whole passage and a dream building typical of dreams, or even nightmares. Contraband (2018), or his older cousin Au Revoir (2016) are symbols already of master Julio Larraz, one of the most representative artists of the neo-figurative painting panorama of the 20th and 21st century who has an exceptional selection of paintings and sculptures exhibited, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Ascaso Gallery, as well presenting it at its dazzling new headquarters in the cultural artistic heart of Miami.

Behind The Curtain of Dreams ”(2019) it’s the name of this showcase, which permits to contemplate twenty large-scale paintings produced recently, some barely seen and others never before exhibited on the occasion of this exhibition. Also, a set of five large and medium-sized sculptures cast in bronze will complete the artwork selection.

Because of such a high volume of works, this show is meant to be the most important exhibition in recent years within the international circuit showing maestro Larraz. The public will be able to experience the audacity of this teacher and his ability with the figurative synthesis of the pictorial language, which has so much inspired the new generations of Neo-figurative artists of this century.

This exhibition will be due to its artistic and cultural reach, a must for collectors, critics, gallery owners, curators and art lovers in general. A unique opportunity to approach the magnificent works of this great Neo-Figuration master, one of the main dishes already for all those who come to Miami from all over the world in search of the latest developments in the international circuit of contemporary art during the Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 fair.

Larraz’s paintings and sculptures can be admired in all its expressive dimension at the Ascaso Gallery’s spectacular new headquarters located in Miami’s cultural artistic central axis. A space of 11,500 feet remodeled by the architect Johnny Lazo, that is integrated into a powerful tour consisting of the Adrienne Arsht Center, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Museum of Art and Design, the Frost Museum of Science and the Spanish Cultural Center.

The new exhibition space presents two imposing rooms with the latest generation on intelligent luminaires design, high struts, and large open and fluid spaces. The conception and cleanliness of the space removes everything that can get in the way between the viewer and the artwork. The sum of all these attributes makes it a space that will revolutionize the exhibition dynamics of the contemporary art circuit.

With “Julio Larraz. Behind The Curtain of Dreams,” Galería Ascaso completes a cycle of three exhibitions on the work of artist Julio Larraz, beginning with“ Coming home ”(2013) and “ Made in USA” (2016), both held in the old gallery headquarters at Wynwood. In this way, “Julio Larraz. Behind The Curtain of Dreams” comes to round out this broad and profound cycle of solo-shows around a fundamental figure to understand the development of neo-figurative art.

Ascaso Gallery is pleased to invite you to visit our new spaces, Ascaso Gallery Miami, 1325 NE 1St Ave. Miami, FL 33132.

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