Skip to content

Woven Worlds: Thomas Bayrle builds a Madonna


Renowned German Pop artist Thomas Bayrle discusses home, the studio, the architectural challenge and ultimate triumph of building Wire Madonna in ICA Miami’s Atrium Gallery.

This site-specific commission, currently on long-term view in ICA Miami’s former home in the landmark Moore Building, is Thomas Bayrle’s most significant monumental sculpture to date, and is a radical dramatization of cultural icons that the artist has explored since the early 1960s. Bayrle refers to ICA Miami’s atrium as a “column forest,” a powerful space for both contemplation and tension. Wire Madonna is translated into stainless steel by Miami architects OfficeGA from a small stamp created by the artist in 1987. Playfully hybridizing manual and digital executions is key for Bayrle, who seeks an uncanny result.

Known for his prescient depictions of mega cities and bodies consumed by machines, Thomas Bayrle (b. 1937, Berlin) is a Frankfurt-based artist whose works spans mediums and movements including Pop, Op, and Conceptual art. His humorous and satirical multi-media works are characterized by “super- forms,” large images composed of repetitive smaller cell-like patterns. His work is influenced by his experience of growing up in post-Nazi Germany, where he trained and worked as an industrial weaver. Other major influences include the Frankfurt School of political and aesthetic theory and his collaborations on corporate identities with international corporations.

Bayrle has been honored with countless solo exhibitions, including at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona; Madre Museum, Naples; WIELS, Brussels; Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt; and Portikus, Frankfurt. Recent major group exhibitions include: “The Great Mother,” Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, Italy; “The World Goes Pop,” Tate Modern, London, UK; “Heaven,” 2nd Athens Biennial, Athens, Greece; “Making Worlds,” La Biennale di Venezia, 53rd International Art Exhibition, Arsenale, Venice, Italy; 2008 Sydney Biennial, Sydney, Australia; “4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art: Of Mice and Men / Of Mice and Men,” KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany; and Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, China; as well as dOCUMENTA 3 (1964), 6 (1977), and 13 (2012). In 2012, he was awarded the Arnold Bode Prize and was also commissioned by Frieze London to create installations for the fair’s public spaces. More recently, Bayrle’s work was included in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s International Pop exhibition, a group show that chronicled the emergence of Pop Art as an international movement. Bayrle’s work is included in major collections, including Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Städelmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Museum Ludwig, Köln, Germany; Kunstmuseum, Stuttgart, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain du Limousin, Limoges, France; Seattle Art Museum, Washington; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; and Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.