Critic’s picks: Four eye-popping art exhibits this season

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jan 25, 2022 1:14 PM

“Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience,

“Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience,” opening Feb. 11, will fill Ice Palace Studios in Miami with 400 animated artworks by French Impressionist Claude Monet. (Beyond Exhibitions / Courtesy)

“Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience,

“Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience,” opening in January, will fill Ice Palace Studios in Miami with 400 animated artworks by French Impressionist Claude Monet. (Beyond Exhibitions / Courtesy)

“Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience,” Feb. 11-March 27, at Ice Palace Studios, 1400 N. Miami Ave., Miami;

After a year of Vincent van Gogh experiences that bloomed like sunflowers across Miami, you might think that South Florida had grown tired of Impressionistic cash grabs. But never underestimate the power of Monet. At Miami’s Ice Palace Studios – the same venue where “Beyond Van Gogh” recently sold 2 million tickets in six months – the new “Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience” will cocoon guests inside dark rooms filled with animated projections of poppy fields and water lilies. Never mind that you have to go inside to enjoy the French impressionist’s plein-air visions of outside: women strolling under the shade of tilted parasols, stone cliffs off the coasts of Normandy, the sun-dappled harbors of Le Havre. More than 400 digital paintings will dance across the walls, including Claude Monet’s popular water lilies of Giverny and poppy fields of Argenteuil, in this exhibition broken into three parts. These colorfully immersive rooms take their design cues from Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, where some of Monet’s masterpieces are permanently displayed. As guests roam these rooms, they’re greeted by contemporary music and a voiceover reading the artists’ thoughts and writings.

A scenic painting used in the 1965 film

A scenic painting used in the 1965 film “The Sound of Music” is part of “The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop,” opening in April at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. (ADG Archives / Courtesy)

“The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop,” April 20-Jan. 22, 2023, at Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real; 561-392-2500,

If all those CGI’d-to-death Marvel films have taught us anything, it’s that every generation likes to use a common refrain — “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” — to bemoan how new technology always ruins movies. (For a recent example, see Martin Scorsese’s recent pandemic rant that Marvel movies aren’t cinema, but “theme parks.”). Still, the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s new exhibit, “The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop,” makes a strong argument for romancing the past. Remember Dorothy and Toto’s colorful journey to Munchkinland, or Scarlett O’Hara’s house in “Gone With the Wind,” or inside the Death Star in “Star Wars”? These backdrops are all painted by Hollywood’s best scenic artists, and designed to do one thing: show realism that is visually convincing, but also fool you into thinking you’re seeing something real. On display are matte paintings from classic Hollywood films such as “The Sound of Music,” “Singin’ in The Rain,” “Ben Hur,” “North by Northwest” and others. But take note: While visitors might see Yoda, don’t even think of looking for Captain America.

“My Father, Lil Pat, and Our Ancestors,” a 2021 oil painting from Miami artist Reginald O’Neal, is on display for his solo show “Reginald O’Neal: As I Am” at the Rubell Museum. (Rubell Museum / Courtesy)

“Reginald O’Neal: As I Am,” through October at Rubell Museum, 1100 NW 23 St., Miami; 305-573-6090,

At just 29, Reginald O’Neal is a street artist without a drop of formal training, but his oil paintings call to mind classic techniques from Old Masters. O’Neal, who says he draws inspiration from Caravaggio, paints fragments of his life with stunning emotional intimacy, drawing on experiences growing up in an Overtown public housing project. His soft brushstrokes, filled with tenderness, capture friends, family and objects from the neighborhood with deep shadows and muted colors: his late grandmother’s glasses, the chest scar of a man walking on crutches, figures mingling at a party, a black casket with golden trimmings floating in a black void. His paintings burst with tragedy and memory, and South Florida has started to take notice. The Perez Art Museum Miami and ICA Miami recently bought several O’Neal works, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami just commissioned the artist to make a mural in its plaza.

Keith Haring's 1990 screenprint on paper,

Keith Haring’s 1990 screenprint on paper, “Flowers II,” will be shown during NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale’s new exhibit “Keith Haring and Pierre Alechinsky,” opening in February. (NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and Keith Haring Foundation / Courtesy)

Keith Haring and Pierre Alechinsky, Feb. 27-Sept. 25 at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd.; 954-525-5500,

By now, it’s easy to spot a Keith Haring painting at a thousand paces. The radical New York City muralist, who died of AIDS in 1990 at age 31, crafted cartoonish figures of crawling children, dancing figures and barking dogs. This visual language – rendered in simple and bold strokes of black paint – are everywhere from AIDS museums to T-shirts to New York City subway walls. NSU Art Museum’s newest exhibition argues that Haring’s early exposure to Belgian avant-garde artist Pierre Alechinsky, as a 19-year-old in 1977, gave him the “rush of confidence” to create his political pop-art shapes. NSU Art Museum’s show traces Haring’s early paper works and his first encounters with Alechinsky’s art, which he has described as “spontaneous, truthful, and real.”

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