Ella Fontanals-Cisneros

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Ella Fontanals-Cisneros

CIFO President

Ella Fontanals-Cisneros is a philanthropist and entrepreneur with an abiding passion and discerning eye for contemporary art and design.  Born in Cuba and raised in Venezuela, she is a true internationalist whose generosity, vision and dynamism have made a significant impact on the contemporary art community and within art organizations around the globe.   

Ms. Fontanals-Cisneros began collecting art in the 1970s, and today her collection includes important Geometric Abstract works from Latin America including pieces by Gego, Jesús Rafael Soto, Alejandro Otero, Lygia Clark, Mira Schendel among others. It also includes cutting-edge pieces by some of the leading contemporary artists of our time.  Collection highlights include photography by Barbara Kruger, Vik Muniz, Thomas Struth, and Andreas Gursky; and installations by Julian Rosefeldt, Olafur Eliasson, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Ai Weiwei. 

The Ella Fontanals-Cisneros is currently in the care of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, a non-profit foundation she established in 2002 along with her family.  In addition to managing the collection, the foundation promotes contemporary art from Latin America through its annual grants program for emerging and mid-career artists from Latin America.  These production grants are given to artists each year to produce new work and the foundation organizes an annual exhibition of each cycle at the CIFO Art Space in downtown Miami.  Its exhibitions, family programs and related events have made CIFO a true cultural spot and have transformed the cultural landscape of downtown Miami. 

Ms. Fontanals-Cisneros also made a significant impact on the South Florida art community in 2003 by founding Miami Art Central (MAC).  Active for three years, MAC focused on presenting world-class international contemporary art exhibitions to the South Florida such as the retrospective of South African artist William Kentridge, and a selection of video works from the Centre Pompidou in Paris among many others. In December 2006, Ms. Fontanals-Cisneros made the forward-looking decision to fuse MAC with the Miami Art Museum (MAM) to strengthen the museum’s contemporary programming.  

In addition to serving as President of CIFO and former chair of MAC, Ms. Fontanals-Cisneros serves on the boards of trustees of the American Patrons of the Tate, the Cintas Foundation, United States Artist, and the International Women's Forum, among others, and has received numerous rewards and commendations.  In 2003 she was the recipient of the Spectrum Philanthropy Award from the American Red Cross.  In 2007 she received the Visionary Award from The Museum of Arts & Design which celebrates exceptional, culturally engaged corporate executives as well as artists and designers, and in 2008 was the recipient of the United Nations’ Women Together Award, recognizing her dedication to the promotion of art and education in and from Latin America.