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quoth the collectors

Post #237 • March 16, 2004, 6:34 AM • 3 Comments

Here are all of the quotes extracted from a recent New York Times article by Phoebe Hoban about Miami collectors. Taken together, they form a portrait of the collector that is both touching and disconcerting. I invite you to parse the data.

Sam Keller, director of Art Basel: "I travel around the world and see great collections, but most are so private in concept there is no thought how to present it to people. [But in Miami,] the de la Cruzes have transformed their house into a museum. The Scholls have very intelligently presented site-specific works. The Rubells are going to live inside their collection. All of them have found their own way to present their collection to the public."

Don Rubell: "When we arrived here Miami was acultural. Now there are all these energies coming together that give it the excitement of a frontier."

Mera Rubell: "We found a 40,000-square-foot former D.E.A. warehouse for the same price of a one-bedroom condo in New York."

Mark Coetzee, director of the Rubell Collection: "We now have labels and toilets and everyone is friendly."

Mera Rubell: "We are simply coming as close to our art as we can. For us the art is our life, and it's impossible for us to separate the two. We have this passion, and we live inside the passion, and our particular paradigm of passion includes the public."

Martin Margulies: "I'm really interested in art. I'm not interested in socializing. I'm not interested in the pretenders or in the p.r. The collection speaks for itself. The bottom line was that in the late 90's I couldn't afford to get into the game for seminal works, so I said to myself, 'What do I do now?' Somehow I kept looking at one photograph that I still have hanging here [a Thomas Ruff image of a young woman], and she kept looking back at me. And then the photos weren't enough. You can't walk into just a place with photography. You have to have something more dynamic as well, and that led to videos and installation work, and there you have the warehouse. We had no plan, just shoot from the hip. We are just having fun with it. I'm being educated myself, I'm educating other people and, gee whiz, what a great way to do things."

Dennis Scholl: "You want be uncomfortable with your collection. And I don't mean necessarily about content, because we're beyond that. We've got works that are nasty. I've got Vito Acconci masturbating in my living room, O.K.? So it's not about imagery, but we want to be uncomfortable in the sense that we want to be taking risks when we buy work. We leave for three days and give ['a celebrated curator', as the Times put it] access to all the art, including what's in storage, and when we come back we have this beautiful, incredible museum-quality installation. It's a joy to be able to have people come and see what you've done and be as excited as you are about it. And you recognize that it is really not your stuff. These are things that we're the stewards of - hopefully - for a long, long time. We were offered some extraordinary works that couldn't fit in the house. World Class Boxing is an extension of what we do at home, the idea of finding an artist that you love and being able to get a work that most people can't have because they can't show it."

Rosa de la Cruz: "This has been like an exercise with time. [?] I started collecting more contemporary work, and installations need space. Every time I take down an exhibition, I'm totally heartbroken. I wish I could leave it, and that's why I wish I could have 10 spaces like this one. That would be my dream. Everybody is welcome in our home. I show it at least three days a week, always by appointment. This is a residential space, I can't just put a sign up that says 'Open'. I'm dying to build a public space."




March 16, 2004, 8:39 PM

We're all entitled to our own approach, of course, it's just that those with large art budgets can make much more of an overt or splashy statement. As long as the statement is honestly felt and about ART, as opposed to other considerations, I have no problem with it, even if it's not the approach I'd take.
What shouldn't happen, but unfortunately does, is to take anybody rich enough to qualify as a "major" collector as necessarily discerning, knowledgeable and/or respectable, in the sense of being an authority. It's entirely possible to have much more money than taste or understanding, and when that's the case, there are always plenty of opportunistic sycophants ready to praise the emperor's nonexistent or very ratty clothes.

My position applies to any and all members of the art world: I don't care who you are or what your position or reputation is; if I don't believe in what you're selling, I'm not buying it. Period.



March 18, 2004, 7:26 PM

Mr. Rubell seems to be somewhat invested in dissing Miami given that he said something similar about Miami being or having been "acultural" in the December Conde-Nast Traveler.

Miami's frontier mentality pre-dates the Rubells, as does its complex and varied culture. I suspect that "acultural" could be translated somewhat accurately in that sentence as "lacking the type of culture with which we were both familiar and comfortable".



March 21, 2004, 3:17 AM

yeah, what she said!!

i hate when people call miami acultural.



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