March 11, 2007

Dance Naked through the Rubell Collection

I first visited the Rubell Family Collection in 2005. It is the largest private collection in North America, located in the Wynwood Art District of Miami. It is inside a former warehouse for the US Drug Enforcement Agency where they used to keep confiscated goods. Now a museum, it includes art by some of the most influential and established contemporary artists of our time. The collection is vast and constantly growing, so the exhibit is refreshed every 6 months to showcase new art.

In my first visit, i picked up the book written on the collection at the bookstore inside: Not Afraid - Rubell Family Collection, published by Phaidon. After reading it I learned a lot about the Rubell family, and got to see other pieces in the collection that were not featured in the exhibit. I was as fascinated about the Rubells as I was with the art they collect. They started collecting when they were students in the '60s with very little money they saved to buy art. They have a great passion for art that is reflected in the very carefully curated collection. They also have a great appreciation of the artists with whom they have formed personal relationships. They discovered unknown talent who later became huge stars, and boosted the careers of many other artists. In the next few posts I will feature the art from the collection that i have personally seen over two years. Unfortunately I did not get to photograph everything i saw, so i will use stock imagery for those i was not able to capture with my camera.

First off, there is one of Damien Hirst's cabinet sculpures called Dance Naked. Damien Hirst is one of the Young British Artists that shocked the art world with animals that he sliced and stored in tanks with formaldehyde. Naked Dance is a relatively tamer sculpture where he displays a collection of surgical tools in a glass cabinet. As a viewer you get absorbed by the way these tools are so meticulously assembled on glass shelves. You end up examining each and every one of the tools, captivated by their sterilized, shiny surfaces, and pondering what they are exactly used for. And then you realize their purpose, which is to cut up, incise, stitch the human body during medical procedures. In the outset you are thinking about life and death; feeling both curious and uncomfortable at the same time.

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