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Seen Instagram-worthy Seven Magic Mountains? There's a version in Florida.

The Nevada desert is nothing like Miami Beach — except that they’re both home to neon mountains by artist Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Ileana Morales Valentine stands next to Rondinone’s Miami Mountain. [Photo by Danny Valentine]
Published Jun. 13

MIAMI BEACH — You may have double-tapped Seven Magic Mountains on Instagram. Beyoncé and Jay-Z visited the towering stacks of multicolored boulders in the mountainous state of Nevada.

But even more shocking than those colors? Flat Florida has a neon mountain of its own.

Miami Mountain stands outside the Bass contemporary art museum. This single pillar in Miami Beach's Collins Park is part of the series by Ugo Rondinone, a Swiss artist based in New York and the same artist behind Seven Magic Mountains.

The 42-foot-tall sculpture is striking in its magnitude and fluorescent hues, which the artist describes as aggressively DayGlo. The museum acquired the piece in 2016, kicking off a 10-year initiative to add international contemporary art to its permanent collection.

It puts residents and tourists face-to-face with art, whether they intended to see it or not. And it's just what the artist wanted.

All his sculptural work is inspired by nature, Rondinone has said, and this series was inspired directly by hoodoo rock formations in the North American Badlands. The mountains are simple and accessible to people who may not regularly experience art. With their impressive stature and incongruity of bright hues on a natural material, they're instantly attractive.

"You don't have to understand an artwork," Rondinone said. "You just have to feel it."

It's hard to keep from smiling in front of the mountain. You can actually touch the boulders, too. (Just don't climb or harm the rocks.) And, by all means, pose for a photo. There are more than 1,700 public photos tagged #MiamiMountain, and more selfies are welcome.

Though Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains and Miami Mountain look very similar in pictures, there are some differences. In Nevada, the rocks are limestone. In hurricane-prone Florida, they're granite. Miami Mountain stands alone, but it's taller than the group of stacked stones out west. And while Seven Magic Mountains incorporates black, silver and white amid the flashes of color, the hues in Miami would match a pack of highlighters.

When Rondinone first visited the square in Miami Beach, he noted an absence of color beyond the tropical whites and greens, so he sought to contribute a palette of neon rainbow for this commissioned work.

The Miami pillar is the first permanent installation in Rondinone's series. The installation in Nevada was intended as a two-year exhibit but has been extended through the end of 2021. Another installation in the series was unveiled in Liverpool in 2018.

As striking as the mountains are in Nevada's desert, they also command attention in the context of Collins Avenue, one of the busiest streets in Miami Beach with walkable access to hotels, shopping, restaurants and the beach. Most days it's fairly easy to visit the monument without encountering other admirers visiting for a photo at the same time.

"Here in Miami Beach, it's a landmark," said Julia Rudo, a spokeswoman for the Bass. "It's iconic."

Contact Ileana Morales Valentine at ileanamvalentine@gmail.com.

If you go

Miami Mountain is at the corner of Collins Avenue and 21st Street in Miami Beach, just outside the Bass museum, 2100 Collins Ave. It is free to visit the sculpture, but fans of Ugo Rondinone's work will likely enjoy the contemporary art exhibits inside the museum. General tickets for the Bass start at $10. Metered parking is available surrounding Collins Park, and nearby hourly garages are at 18th Street and Meridian Avenue, 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, 20th Street and Liberty Avenue.

Miami Mountain is within walking distance of the Miami Beach Boardwalk, many South Beach hotels and the Miami Beach Regional Library. It's a half-mile from Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Beach Botanical Garden, the Fillmore and the Miami Beach Convention Center.

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