Dec 7, 2022 - News

Inside Miami artist Romero Britto's world

Romero Britto wears a blcak top hat and glittery blue jacket as he stands next to a painting.

Romero Britto with the artwork he created for the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Photo: Deirdra Funcheon/Axios

Miami's biggest visual artist is having a busy month.

What's happening: Romero Britto — the Brazilian artist who's lived in Miami for over 30 years — was chosen to create official artwork for the Kentucky Derby and nominated as a "special ambassador" for Miami-Dade County.

Why it matters: The honors recognize Britto's decades of work, which he's deemed the "Happy Art Movement," and its influence on Miami.

  • Britto is known worldwide for his vibrant artwork, which uses simple patterns like stripes, hearts and polka dots.

State of play: State of play: Creating the official Kentucky Derby artwork is an honor often bestowed to artists from Kentucky, as had happened the previous six years. Britto's design will be featured on official racing programs and merchandise.

  • As a special ambassador, Britto would represent Miami-Dade County's cultural and trade interests. The county will hold a public meeting on the potential appointment next week, Florida Politics reports.

Context: Britto's colorful pop art has long been a part of our city, adorning everything from the Dolphins' stadium to Miami Children's Museum.

  • Last year, the artist opened Britto Palace in Miami Beach, a 60,000-square-foot center that functions as his art studio, an event space, a Britto museum and a business office for his considerable empire.
  • It's "the largest studio of a visual artist in the world and in history," his website claims.

Zoom in: Axios toured the facility, which people can visit if they win a "golden ticket" that's raffled off among people who buy $250 or more of Britto products on his website. Inside, you can see:

  • Walls covered in photos of Britto with just about every celebrity and dignitary in the world, from former President Obama to Prince Charles;
  • A painting made by Michael Jackson's chimpanzee;
  • Rolls Royces and Bentleys that Britto painted in his signature style; and
  • Other Britto-designed products including Barbies, Monopoly games and underwear.
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