Gary Nader, the Lebanese-born, Dominican-raised publisher and philanthropist, has risen to become one of the art world’s most significant figures. Now, what occupies Nader is an even more ambitious project: The Nader Latin American Art Museum (LAAM) at Miami-Dade College.
The $900 million museum, set to open late in 2016 or early 2017, will be an interdisciplinary facility to study Art and Latin American culture offering more than 215,000 square feet, with an exhibition center, theater, conference center and sculpture garden. Also planned are luxury housing for artists, a gourmet restaurant, and a high-end culinary market.
With 55,000 square feet of exhibition space, located in Miami’s newly renovated Wynwood art district, is one of the world’s largest and successful galleries, rivaling the similarly sized collection at Los Angeles’ highly respected Museum of Latin American Art.
As a young boy in Haiti, Nader tells Tendencias del Mercado del Arte Magazine in an extensive interview, he began selling works at the age of 9, rising to become a minority partner of the family’s gallery at the age of 20. After a career in art where he crossed paths with diplomats, ministers and foreign presidents, Nader is helping realize something he predicted more than three decades ago: the cultural impact of Latin American art.
“I became fully aware that Miami was a crucial site,” Nader says. “It surprised me that a city, fiercely cosmopolitan, with sea cost and so close to Latin America and Europe, was more backward in regard to the arts than the Dominican Republic. It was a desert!”
“I knew that Latin Americans preferred Miami instead of New York and that those who purchased at Sotheby’s and at Christie’s adored Miami,” Nader adds. “I always say: Miami is destined to become a great metropolis because of its privileged geographic location and its people, who come from all over the world to live here, and are vertiginously transforming Miami into what I have already affirmed, a great metropolis.”
The museum, which will be located next to the Liberty Tower, was made possible by the largest contribution ever made by a Latin American philanthropist to an American institution: more than $120 million. Nader also commits to donating his extensive Latin American art collection — estimated at a thousand works of art by more than 250 artists — valued at over $50 million.
“At times, it excites me more to acquire art from an artist who is at the midpoint in his artistic career than from a great master,” Nader says. “My art collection is vast; I own important paintings by Matta, Lam, Tamayo, Botero, Torres García, Siqueiros …”
Nader began acquiring his collection in the 1980s with the purpose of eventually exhibiting them in the museum that is now under construction.
“Once inaugurated, the museum will be the Latin American cultural center point of reference for the world,” he says. “The museum already has over one thousand works of art, and we are currently negotiating with Miami-Dade College …”
Nader says that an important aspect of LAAM is not just art, but global Latin American culture.
“In addition to art expositions, the museum will feature events promoting gastronomy, dance, music and theater … The best things that Latin Americans have given to the world, besides the most beautiful women,” he says with a wink, “are our culture, our art.”
According to Tendencias del Mercado del Arte Magazine, four companies are competing to win the project through Nader + Museu LLP corporation, and will require an initial investment of more than $900 million.
“I predicted thirty years ago the re-evaluation of Latin American art,” Nader says. “All the important museums worldwide exhibit our masters.”
The Shanghai Museum recently presented an exhibition on Fernando Botero — a show visited by more than 2 million people; the MoMA organized a show featuring Joaquín Torres García, the Uruguayan painter and sculptor, which is now in the Fundación Telefónica de Madrid. The Spanish Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía currently has an exhibition on Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam, which then will be at the Tate Modern in London; another is proposed for Chilean painter Roberto Matta at the Guggenheim in New York City.
“Ten years ago you could count on one hand the international galleries that were exhibiting Latin American artists. Nowadays, there is not a single renowned gallery that does not have several Latin American artists. Museums are also just now starting to collect our artists.”