The artistic tastes of Miami, not dissimilar to the city’s thermometers, tend to run high. Creative cliques fly south annually for Art Basel Miami Beach, the biggest art fair in the U.S., but the city is also home to some world-class private art collections, amassed by a few individuals and curated largely by personal taste.
The Rubell Family Collection in Miami’s artsy Wynwood neighbourhood is regarded as one of the world’s top contemporary art collections. To step into its 28 Chinese exhibition—on display until August 1—is to be instantly dwarfed by Zhu Jinshi’s dreamy, tunnel-like Boat, a hanging sculpture created from over 8,000 sheets of rice paper. From one ethereal construct to the next: He Xiangyu’s The Death of Marat is a startling sculpture of Ai Weiwei, placed inert and lifeless on the exhibit’s floor.
“The collection process is the best part,” says Donald Rubell, who along with his wife, Mera, took numerous trips to China to inform their exhibition. “But,” he adds, “the artwork is not completed until people are inside of it.”
Irma and Norman Braman are also among Miami’s art-aggregating royalty, keeping much of their $900-million collection housed at their private estate. It begins on the Bramans’ sculpture-studded front lawn and continues inside, filling rooms with the likes of Damien Hirst, Joan Miró, and Alexander Calder artworks; a Pablo Picasso hangs above their bed.
The Bramans only open up their home to those who are genuinely interested in the art collection, not its net worth. “We had one request from a woman who I knew would rather be shopping at Saks than looking at our art,” says Irma. “So we said no.”
Photo provided by the Rubell Family Collection Foundation.