Etchings of New York City
Samuel L. Margolies (1897–1974), "Man’s Canyons," 1936, etching and aquatint on paper, 11 7/8 x 8 13/16 in., The Wolfsonian–Florida International University, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, 83.4.32

On View: “Aerial Vision”
Miami Beach
through April 24, 2022

On view at the Wolfsonian, part of Florida International University, is the intriguing exhibition “Aerial Vision.” It features more than 100 paintings, prints, drawings, design objects, magazine covers, and other items — drawn primarily from the museum’s rich collection — that reveal how airplanes, skyscrapers, elevators, and other early 20th-century inventions allowed humankind to gaze up, look down, and move with speed to new heights. These technological advances forever changed the way we humans see the world around us.

The resulting imagery ranges from the mundane (e.g., window washing scenes) to the reverent (“the cult of the airplane pilot”), and from the breathtaking (bird’s-eye views of cities) to the fantastical (skyscraper airports). These themes interested people all over the world, from the Italian Futurists to the designers of Japanese aviation-themed board games. Their reactions varied, too, from a sense of awe, power, or privilege to anxiety and fear — per-haps of aerial bombardment, or maybe of the long shadows cast on city streets by skyscrapers towering above them.

Today we take many of these ideas for granted, but a century ago, it was all new and being worked out in art and design. Miami is an ideal city to consider these themes, given its history as an aviation center connecting the U.S. and Latin America.

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