The Rubell Collection... (Part I)

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After many years collecting Contemporary Art, the Rubell Family has been able to raise more than 6000 works by many, many artists. Some of those pieces are on display to visitors at the building the Rubell Fondation has in the city of Miami.
General view - Rubell Family Collection 
Miami, USA
In constant growth since 1970s, the collection offers the chance to study the way past generation of artists still inspire artists today and also the changes in the work of a particular artist.  With this in mind, the museum is actually presenting "To Have and To Hold", an exhibition in which pieces acquired 30 years ago converse with those bought recently.
From the 70s, you'll see works by Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo and Jeff Koons. In Sherman's (USA, 1954) case, photo self-portraits performing a character...
Untitled #21, by Cindy Sherman (1978)
Technique: B&W photography / Measures: 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm
Acquired in 1978
For this photo, the artist toured the city searching for the perfect spot. Back then, Robert Longo was her partner and he drove a van carrying the makeup and clothing needed for the shoot. Once on location, Cindy turned into a young worker on her first day of work in a strange city. Or maybe she is escaping from something. There's no clear reference as to what she is really doing. As in all Sherman's characters, ambiguity prevails. Ambiguous is also the time reference: although the photo was taken in the 80s, it looks very 50s. Robert Longo took it following Sherman's instructions.
Men Trapped in Ice, by Robert Longo (1979)
Technique: carbon and graphite on paper / Measures: triptych, 152.4 x 101.6 cm each
Acquired in 1980
The title of Robert Longo's (USA, 1953) work Men Trapped in Ice comes from a dream the artist had, of men with frozen feet. They could only move from ankles up, while being attacked by a raging storm. The triptych, a drawing in carbon and graphite, derives from photos of his friends specially taken by the artist. The bodies have a rhythm of their own. It's hard to tell whether they are dancing or simply falling.
New Hoover Deluxe Rug Shampooer, by Jeff Koons (1979)
Materials: rug shampooer, acrylic and fluorescent lights / Measures: 134.6 x 25.4 x 33 cm
Acquired in 1980
The work by Jeff Koons (USA, 1955) shows a rug shampooer which has been removed from its context to become a piece of art. It has been placed before flourescent tubes surrounded by acrylic. Koons' aim was to strip the object of its original function (cleaning rugs), to transform it into a sculpture. Thus we think of it as an example of conceptual art. The artist explained that he chose such object for it anthropomorphic qualities: its a machine that takes in air and, according to his vision, has male and female characteristics. With it he tried to expose the vulnerabilities and conventionalism of American middle classes.
From the 80s, works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rosemarie Trockel and, again, Cindy Sherman.
From the German artist Rosemarie Trockel (1952) there's a series of square panels, as pieces of wool rugs, with geometrical motifs. 
Untitled, by Rosemarie Trockel (1986)
Materials: black and white wool / Measures: 36.8 x 36.8 cm

Acquired by 1986
The painting Bird on Money by Jean-Michel Basquiat (USA, 1960-1988) is a tribute to Charlie Parker, the Jazz musician he so much admired. True to Basquiat's style, the artwork pretends to be a portrait of Parker, represented as a chicken, one of his many nicknames. Below right you can read the words Para Morir (to die), which is a reference to Basquiat himself, as also the African and Aztec symbols often present in his imagery. 
Bird on money, by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1981)
Technique: oil and acrylic on canvas / Measures: 167.6 x 228.6 cm
Acquired in 1981
By the end of the '80s, Cindy Sherman produces a series of portraits inspired in the paintings of the masters of Art History.  For them she uses prosthetic makeup and poses carelessly, almost ironically. 
Untitled #207, by Cindy Sherman (1989)
Technique: color photography / Measures: 165.1 x 124.5 cm
Acquired in 1990
(to be continued...)

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Liliana Wrobel


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