Bass Museum acquires Allora & Calzadilla petrol pump

It is the first time a major installation by the US-Cuban duo has entered the collection of a Miami museum


The Bass museum in Miami has acquired one of Allora & Calzadilla’s petrol pump installations–a series of large-scale sculptures of fossilised gas pumps, one of which was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2011. It is the first time a major work by the US-Cuban duo has been bought by a Miami museum.  

Silvia Karman Cubiña, the director and chief curator of the Bass, says the acquisition came about after a long conversation with the artists, whom she has known for around 25 years. “I saw one of their petrol pumps a few years ago and was struck by how timely the work was. It discusses issues that the whole world is going through,” she says.

Petrified Petrol Pump (Pemex II) (2011) is the third work the museum has bought as part of a recently announced scheme to grow its contemporary art collection over the next ten years. So far, a seven-strong committee chaired by local patron Hubert Bush has raised $4m to acquire existing works or commission new pieces. 

“We are looking for works that are both timely and timeless, and definitely relevant to our context in Miami,” Cubiña says. Allora & Calzadilla’s gas pump is due to go on show when the museum reopens in October following a $12m redesign. 

The work joins other recent additions to the museum’s collection, including Eternity Now (2015), a neon piece by Sylvie Fleury, and Miami Mountain (2016), a 41-ft stack of brightly painted Nevada limestone boulders by Ugo Rondinone, which was installed outside the museum in Collins Park last year.

The Bass will inaugurate its new space with three exhibitions, including the first solo museum show for Swiss-born Rondinone, Good Evening Beautiful Blue (until 19 February 2018). The other opening exhibitions are dedicated to works by the Argentinian-born artist Mika Rottenberg and the Cameroon-born artist Pascale Marthine Tayou.