Wire Madonna

"Wire Madonna, a site-specific commission for ICA Miami's Atrium Gallery, is 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. Engineered in steel tubing, the sculpture looms over the atrium's gridded space. The theme of the Holy Family - foundational and ubiquitous in popular iconography, yet atypical in contemporary art - has occurred in Bayrle's work in painting, screenprints, collage, and sculpture. For Bayrle, the pervasiveness and power of traditional icons persists today in a new forms through popular images.

The artist attributes his interest in the subject to a 1985 trip to Russia, where he visited Our Lady of the Sign, a famed twelfth-century Orthodox icon in Novgorod that receives thousands of kisses from worshipers each day. In Byzantine art, the formal features of the icons are fixed, having been copied meticulously for centuries to create and existential connection between the onlooker and god. "At first glance these Madonnas appeared to me like ancient machines: everything was coded, quoted and copied, on and on, and even mass-produced at certain times," Bayrle says. "At the same time I felt their total singularity."

Bayrle refers to ICA Miami's atrium as a "column forest." a powerful space for both contemplation and tension. Wire Madonna was translated into steel by Miami architects Office GA from a small stamp created by the artist in 1987. Playfully hybridizing manual and digital executions are key for Bayrle, who seeks uncanny result."

Jonathan Gonzalez and Office GA worked closely with Thomas Bayrle and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami in maintaining the interest of the artist, while delivering on the monumental design and fabrication necessary to realize this architecturally scaled object. Digital design and modeling, structural engineering and the development of an architectural system for reducing the massive 3 dimensional form to manageable splines was vital in a project with an extremely small window for fabrication and installation. Working with our expert team of designers and craftsmen Office GA was able to devise a strategy in which the final installation in the space happened in 9 days and fully integrates with the found set of conditions and structure of the museum space.

  • year


  • location


  • client

    Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

  • typology


  • status


  • Design/Fabrication Team

    Jonathan Gonzalez, Principal in Charge
    Michael Quinones, Digital Design
    Robert Lorie, Fabrication
    Maik Behr, Fabrication
    Pablo De Greiff, Fabrication