Rubell Family Collection – Exploring Miami

by | December 10, 2019 |

The Rubell Family Collection has recently moved into a new 100,000-square-foot-space in Allapattah. I visited it this past weekend. It was open to the public in connection with Miami’s Art Basel December 5 – 8. The title image is Gold Barbara (from the Jewish Jackie Series) 1992 by Deborah Kass.

Art Basel began in Basel, Switzerland in 1970. It branched out into Miami in 2002. And it is now also in Hong Kong since 2013.

Art Basel is likely the largest art show in the world, and it is one that showcases modern art. It draws the top artists from around the world as well as the wealthiest collectors. And then the non-buying hoi polloi, like me.

The Rubell Family Collection: Keith Haring

I was particularly interested to go to this museum because Jason Rubell graduated Duke University in 1991 and studied Art and Art History with Kristine Stiles, among others. It was the Duke connection that drew me. He’s the son of billionaire hotel and business people Don and Mera Rubell, who are also art royalty in Miami.

For the title image I could have chosen Untitled (1982) by Keith Haring (1958-1990) …


… because this image was in my head since I had recently traveled on Brightline between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.


(I happen to like the drama of Gold Barbara for the title image, and I have no need to simply repeat what the city chose.)

The Rubells got to know Haring in 1981 when Haring curated a show at the Mudd Club (1978-1983), a venue for underground music and counterculture events. They quickly became collectors of his work and others in his circle. Their collection is impressive.

Haring’s pop-graffiti aesthetic is clear:





Art historians acknowledge Haring’s lineage with the cartoonish quality of the work of Jean Dubuffet (1908-1985):

Dubuffet in his studio. I like the chair on the lower center left and the character sitting on the wall to the right above Dubuffet’s shoulder. He certainly committed himself to his style












Me, all I could think of was R. Crumb and his Zap Comix from the 1960s and ’70s.


I don’t know who influences who or what influences what. But since Haring tends to organize his images in panels and has line-drawn characters engaged in lots of movement, I see his lineage to comic books. Also all the lines that suggest motion seem very comic-book-y.

Haring sees it the other way around. In 1989 he stated:

“What happened to me is that it started in the subways, it began in popular culture and was absorbed and accepted by the popular culture before the art world had time to take credit for it.”



The Rubell Family Collection: Other Works of Note

I walked out of the Keith Haring room and into a room with these works:


These can only be Japanese. Yup, they’re by Yoshitomo Nara who is apparently famous. Again, all I can think of is anime and other cartoonish Japanese figures like Sailor Moon or even Hello Kitty, if it comes right down to it.

A cute-sified aesthetic, in any case.

Then there’s Jeff Koons and his New Hoover Convertible (1980)


Hey! I’m into vacuum cleaners, too.

In 1987 I bought Tea With Eureka by Kate Fetteroff. It’s from her Deranged Housewife series:

It’s based on the Mary Cassatt painting Five O’Clock Tea (1880):

Koon’s Hoover is museum-worthy. I tried to donate my Eureka to Duke’s Nasher Museum. They wouldn’t take it. What do I know? Apparently nothing.

I could probably learn alot in the Rubell Library, which looks awesome. It wasn’t open when I visited.


Here’s me and my cheerful puzzlement standing in part of A Refusal to Accept Limits (2007) by John Miller.

What is going on? Don’t ask me!

More of the work:Rubell

Rubell Postscript: Art Basel and The Banana

Forget the Rubell museum. Forget everything. There’s only one thing worth talking about from Art Basel Miami 2019. It’s this:

A banana taped to a wall entitled Comedian.

It is the brain child of Maurizio Cattelan, and it sold to a private collector for $120,000. On Saturday artist David Datuna took it off the wall and ate it – before being escorted out of the exhibition space.


I’ll let you decide what’s going on here, according to the New York Times.

Turns out, Cattelan likes to suspend things. I came across this disturbing installation by him at the Rubell:


It’s entitled We Are the Revolution, 2000.

Another view:

Okay, then.

See: All Exploring Miami

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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