Miami, as most of us now know, is home to some of the most prominent and important contemporary art collectors in the world. They in turn have spawned a new generation of local connoisseurs, all of who have transformed South Florida into a true hot-bed for the art of collecting. So MAG decided to ask several of our serious scene makers about how it all started for them, and why. While love of the visual arts is the essential ingredient to the amazing collections of Miami’s major collectors, it is not the entire recipe. Part of the joy of collecting comes from the journey, they say – the learning experience derived in the process of discovering art, piece by piece, and then building on it.
The Margulies Collection at the WAREHOUSE
Margulies has been amassing art for decades, so much so that his massive warehouse comprises 45,000 square feet of exhibition space and has become one of the pillars of the Miami cultural community. But as he tells it, he didn’t pop out of the womb with a detailed knowledge or appreciation of the arts; he grew into it. “I was lucky, I got to see all the art in New York and people said, ‘why don’t you buy some?
“Okay, I’ll try,” Margulies recalls about his initial foray. “But my aesthetics at that moment were immature, you have to develop your own aesthetic. No question it is a process,” he says.
As Margulies business is real estate, he next turned his eye to sculpture. “I thought, well, wouldn’t it be nice to have some sculpture on these grounds?” Sculpture – from the likes of de Kooning, Judd, Flavin, LeWitt, and Serra, to list a very few – would eventually put the Margulies name on the map of internationally known collectors.
He moved on to painting, photography, video, and installation, and 10 years ago, along with curator Katherine Hinds, he opened up the Margulies Warehouse in Wynwood. “I wanted to open it up to the public, to the community and to students so they can take part of the art.”
The collection now includes works from the pop, modernist, minimalist, and conceptual traditions, at least 3,000 photographic works and 70 videos, and numerous sculptures and installations – adding up to over 4, 500 works.
During Art Basel, the renovated Warehouse is exhibiting a 100 years of photography retrospective, a George Segal sculpture, and some Surrealism. Works from the collection, including young painters, will be traveling next year for one of three shows at the new Tampa Museum; while an exhibit of photos from the collection will be appearing in Barcelona.
Margulies says his now-developed tastes are not limited – “I’m not an ultra-contemporary guy, I’m not a trend type of collector” – but that the art he picks still should fit with his vision and the theme of the collection. “I have to love it visually, it has to ring a visual bell,” he summarizes.
He is not sure what might strike his fancy next, “I don’t know what is around the corner.” But he knows something is. During Basel he’ll be keeping his eyes wide open, and open to buying more. “If it fits with what I collect, I will be looking.”
The Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection
The Scholl’s journey started when they met in law school, and to make a living the couple started selling art “but bad art. We really didn’t know, you know, what is good?” So they started the process of finding out. Like many collectors they too began with prints – it is the most affordable way to dabble – and then delved into photography, or as Scholl says, into “artists who work with photography, not photographers.”
It was about the time that photography “stopped being the red-headed stepchild” in the art world, and the Scholl’s collection dove-tailed with that era; it was the genre that first put the Scholl collection on the international map. But, recalls Scholl, after 10 years the journey had become a little dull: “We peaked on photography; the soul started to leak out if it.” So they focused their lens on a broader range of avant-garde art, from painting and sculpture to video. And like Margulies, they wound up deciding that their expansive collection should be on view to the public – for both the community and the artists’ sake. “We felt we had a real responsibility to make sure the art gets seen, especially for the young artists.” They opened their home – over 15,000 people have passed through – and then the World Class Boxing exhibition space in Wynwood six years ago.
In between then, elements of the Scholl collection have been prominently displayed in shows such as “Imperfect Innocence” at both Baltimore’s Contemporary Museum and the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, which featured such contemporary stars such as Matthew Barney, Tacita Dean, Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, and Dan Graham. And to inaugurate the new Frost Museum at FIU, pieces of the collection made up “Because I Say So …” earlier this year, highlighting mostly sculpture from international as well as local artists.
For Art Basel, World Class Boxing is having two exhibits, one from Raymond Pettibon, and the other a Fiat that has been crushed and then painted, from Sylvie Fleury. And the Scholls too will be looking to add to their collection during the Art Basel Miami Beach, although who knows where the next part of the collecting journey will take them. “I’m thinking about works with a theme of ‘the artists’ hand.’ Maybe more intimate works, like smaller painting and drawing. That might be the next move.”
The Tony and Janet Goldman Collection
Tony Goldman was exposed early on to fine art in New York, through the collection of his own parents, “from a host of civilizations, from antiquities to Impressionists.” He says at a young age: “You have to ask, do you have the heart and soul of a collector? If so, you start accumulating for the rest of your life.” He remembers he was enamored with abstract art “as I found that energy and emotion in it, it turned me on.”
He started collecting some photography, Art Nouveau, and lithographs. As his collection increased, part of his journey included getting to know each artist and “watching their growth.” After marrying his wife, his journey broadened to include her tastes: “Janet needs to appreciate the pieces before we acquire.”
As they grew their real estate and restaurant business in New York City, there were more and more walls to fill. Walls began pique Goldman’s interest more and more, especially outdoor, public ones. “There is something so exciting about street art, mural art, its roots in the renegade world,” he says. It’s both figurative and abstract, two of his personal favorites. He brought that love with him as the Goldman’s expanded their business to South Florida, and eventually to Wynwood, where he has commissioned numerous walls, and more to come.
So it’s no surprise that during this year’s Art Basel, Goldman is partnering with celebrity gallerist Jeffrey Deitch for “Wynwood Walls, the Street Art Mural Park,” which will commission work from such street luminaries as Shephard Fairey, Futura 2000 and Os Gemeos. “We have a shared aesthetic, we cross over in taste and interest,” Goldman says of Deitch.
Hence, the two will also host Francesco Clemente‘s monumental work A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows, a 180 foot-long suite of large-scale watercolor paintings. It will be the first exhibit in the former MoCA Goldman Warehouse now renamed Goldman Warehouse, marking the moment that he joins his fellow collectors in opening a public space in Miami and adding to the incredible wealth of art in our community, courtesy of our collectors.