Celebrity Reflection debuts impressive art collection

For most culture junkies, this is an exciting time in Miami. Art Basel is just a week away and the travel season kicks off with the unveiling of several new cruise ships, something the Port of Miami hasn’t seen for three years.  

The newest ship in the Celebrity fleet, the Celebrity Reflection, features an impressive art collection, which debuts before the ship sets sail on its inaugural stateside voyage to the Caribbean on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

On other ships, fine art is typically relegated to what can be a stuffy auction room, where the experience is more focused on potential sales. With approximately 136 new acquisitions, including original paintings, sculptures, photography, video, drawings, prints and site-specific and architecturally integrated installations, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view contemporary art outside of conventional museum walls and gallery venues.

Each ship in Celebrity Cruises’ fleet establishes itself through its name and the corresponding art collection is a physical representation. Celebrity Reflection’s curatorial theme, “The Seductiveness of a Reflection,” investigates the effect of the physical properties of reflective materials as well as the subtler act of personal reflection.

Former Miami-based artist Bert Rodriguez reveals his hyperbolic site-specific work in the ship’s upper Grand Foyer. It’s a living tree, suspended in mid-air, reflecting upon itself.

Rodriguez brought a lot of legitimacy to Miami’s art scene in 2008 when he participated in the Whitney Biennial and Art Basel. He was severely injured shortly thereafter when a car hit him on his bike on 21st and Biscayne Blvd, stunting his career for a short time.

The tree above is a living, natural tree and below, hanging upside down, is a tree made of cast aluminum and electrical lighting. By using physical reflection, shiny surfaces and a real tree, Rodriguez hopes to allow for a more complex investigation of self-reflection within each viewer.

“Much like Bert’s epic installation, other pieces such as the Mirror Flower by Jeff Koons, Ann Veronica Janssen’s gilded Venetian blinds, and Aziz & Cucher’s light boxes, are purposefully placed throughout the ship in order to challenge the assumption that viewers can only be moved by art in familiar, established venues,” said Mariangela Capuzzo, creative director and lead curator for International Corporate Art (ICArt), a Miami-based art advisory group that curated the nearly $60 million art collection for Celebrity Cruises’ five-ship Solstice Class series.

The work of another Miami superstar, Carlos Betancourt, is featured in the collection with The Celestial Garden, an all-encompassing (floor-to-ceiling) visual and sensory experience in the Ensemble vestibule. In collaboration with Alberto Latorre, the romantic composition invites viewers to reflect upon the mysterious relationship of memory, beauty and art.

In addition, 115 standout artworks that bear the notable names of Robert Rauschenberg, John Baldessari, Julian Opie, Kiki Smith and Richard Prince were selected and moved from older Celebrity ships to the new Reflection.