A Family Affair

Four decades on and the Rubells are still at it

M: This is what happens and this is a question we always ask.

D: We always ask the question.

M: How is it that one can be in this place that just feels right in order to deal with certain artists? For example, take Hernan Bas. Hernan is becoming an amazing artist in the world. And he was here. We started looking at his work and there you have it. You don't know.

Don and Mera Rubell: Their art radar is always on
Jonathan Postal
Don and Mera Rubell: Their art radar is always on

D: I was having this discussion last night. There's so much figurative art out there right now that maybe the next thing will be abstraction, but in order to go there it needs artists who are interested in abstraction. What we want or think is irrelevant.

What's the Rubell formula?

D: I'd say, find the artists, and the art, right at the time they're ready. It's a constant process of discovery. You need to develop the eye.

M: We want to do something that makes a difference in the world.

You have a private collection that is also a public institution.

D: A lot of the art we bought remains basically as a service in the art world. It's the use as a resource for the education of art. It concerns curators, artists, critics, and teachers.

M: Museums are so organizational that the acquiring process becomes difficult. We have the ability to get these kinds of works because we make the critical decision and a financial commitment faster.

D: Perhaps we have more freedom to choose.

M: Keep in mind, we don't look for controversial work for its own sake. It must be relevant.

What's relevant?

D: There goes the philosopher. [Laughs]

M: We buy what we like, what really talks inside of our lives, those issues that are important to us as human beings.

D: I'd modify that. We buy what changes the way we look at life, not necessarily those that affirm what we already have. A lot of the works that end up being shown are the most difficult for us, because they require us to make a quantum leap from what we thought to something else.

M: Okay, so we say to you we buy what we like, right? We buy things that change the way we are. It's the same with our lives; we surround ourselves with the environment to influence and experience contemporary issues. You have to walk the walk in order to feel the talk.

D:Yes! That's inspired. [Laughter]

Some people say Miami has not been able to congeal all of these wonderful collections in one place. Will it happen?

D: Miami is 100 years old. Paris is 2000 years old. You wouldn't ask an infant to conjugate Latin verbs.

M: Miami is a work in progress. This museum you refer to will be built and will have a long-term effect in the community. The Philadelphia museum was built without a collection.

D: If you build a state-of-the-art, well-thought-out place, I'm sure there are collections that would end up in that museum.

M: We have a public mission and we'd be very happy to collaborate with that future museum.

What about art education?

D: Our universities and art schools have to teach more than a master's [degree]. The point is: How is contemporary art relevant for the world today?

M: We have tremendous resources. We really welcome any teaching person in Miami to come here and use our facilities.

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