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The Rubells have become synonymous with the A-list of major contemporary art collectors. Since 1964, Don and Mera Rubell have sought out the art of their time and have amassed what has grown to be one of the biggest and arguably the most important collection of contemporary art in the world.
The New York couple moved to Miami in 1993, when it was largely considered a backwater of the contemporary art scene. Today, the city has a more prominent role as the world’s elite collectors and dealers converge every December for Art Basel Miami Beach.
For our latest podcast, I sat down with collector Don Rubell to discuss his life of collecting and the lessons he has learned along the way. We also discuss the new, 100,000-square-foot complex in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood the family is building. The massive space will be the new home for their art collection, as well as housing a library, lecture hall, sculpture garden, and more.
Here are some highlights from Don Rubell’s comments during our conversation:
- For us, America is a celebration. I get very upset when people talk about making America great again. It’s an incredible place. Does it have its flaws? … Democracy is a terrible form, but it’s a hell of a lot better than any other form that’s come along.
- Art doesn’t exist as an isolated phenomenon, it’s part of a long history. I think with the new building, we’ll be able to show how we arrived at it. Plus, I think we’ll be able to show people what we thought over the last 50 years.
- I have a recurring nightmare that occurs — I must get it three or four times a month for the last 20 years — it’s that I was looking at the art here, and the best art was being made there. It’s that insecurity that will always exist.
- All collecting is intellectual exercise. If you collect stamps, what’s the appeal of chasing every stamp? It’s a defect in your personality, obviously.
- The younger the collector, the more the competition. I think, what you realize after a while, is that if an artist only makes one great piece, you’re very lucky if someone else buys it.
- I think that artists, like actors, can’t develop in public.
- When we first started collecting, if you wanted to look at contemporary art, you could go to six galleries in two hours and see all the contemporary art in New York. There was absolutely no cachet attached to collecting contemporary art. As a matter of fact, everyone thought you were kind of crazy for doing it, which was wonderful for us because there wasn’t that much competition out there.
- The fascinating thing about contemporary art, is the most seductive thing in the world because, we’re dealing with our own times. Do I love classical art? I do, I adore classic a lot but it’s never going to speak to me in terms of the issues, in terms of the reasons why it’s generated the way contemporary art will. I think a lot of people came to realize this.
- I have a flawed gene. I have a collector’s gene. When I was four, I was collecting bottle tops, and I still have my stamp collection that I started when I was six. When the military sent me to Japan … I ended up collecting … I’m prone to that kind of thing.
- Thank God for the internet. Every day I spend two hours just going through images.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…