Collosal Collectors Create 'Miami Model'

Miami -- Art dealer, Gary Nader, just announced that he intends to open a Latin American Art museum featuring 600 top-notch works from his private collection.

Nader now joins a pantheon of important collectors who have developed the 'Miami Model' -- powerful patrons who build their own private museums.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social medial network adore the Miami Model for many reasons:

Herein, rich collectors use their own money (never any public funding); allow anyone and everyone to snoop around their private possessions; hire lots of security guards, valets, administrators, grad students and curators boosting city employment; gentrify beaten down properties; have nice gift shops; serve as venues for soirées, weddings and bar mitzvahs; and attract well-heeled tourists.

During Art Basel week, one can even grab a free breakfast!

Before Art Basel brought international attention, there was a small group of private museums specializing in contemporary art that collectively came to be known worldwide as the Miami Model, and their influence is reaching far beyond the famed art show’s walls.

Art critic Tyler Green is credited with coining the term Miami model. He has stated that, “There aren’t many cities where this concentration of private museums is possible. Miami’s rare nexus of wealth, warehouse space and permissive zoning allows these folks to do what they want to do.”

And what they want to do is collect and exhibit art in their own way without the restrictions of a board of directors or public financing.

Miami didn’t always have great traditional museums in which collectors could display their art. Rather than wait for the next MoCA or MoMA to be built, starting about 15 years ago, these benefactors simply built their own institutions.

Top Four

Four private exhibition spaces in particular stand out: Mera and Donald Rubell’s Family Collection, Martin Margulies’ Warehouse, Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz’s Collection Contemporary Art Space and Ella Fontanals-Cisneros’ CIFO Art Space.

Although there are others with quasi-public gallery spaces, these four have grown to the point of truly functioning like museums, complete with formal hours, education programs, extensive libraries and a variety of grants for financing the work of emerging artists and curators.

The shared focus of these four is almost entirely on contemporary art, further distinguishing them and other Miami model organizations from private museums. “The pure square footage in these spaces devoted to art from the last five or 10 years is very large, particularly for a city of Miami’s size,” says Green.

Together, they boast nearly 125,000 feet of exhibition space, roughly half of which houses “very recent” work, with the vast majority of the rest of the art being from the past 40 years.
The Rubell Family Collection holds the distinction of being the first Miami model exhibition space and dates back to 1993, when the Rubells transferred their vast art collection to a converted Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated-goods facility. The couple uses the space to explore their strong interest in introducing new and often controversial artists, many of whom have never been shown in the US.

Martin Margulies, on the other hand, has dedicated his 45,000-square-foot Warehouse to procuring seminal, historically significant pieces of contemporary artwork.

It is widely seen as Miami’s most important private collection and is best known for highly recognizable sculptures, such as George Segal’s 1968 work “The Subway” and Anselm Kiefer’s 1989 work “Sprache der Vögel,” which are part of the permanent store, and the city’s most important photography collection, a portion of which is always on display.

Despite Margulies’ focus on contemporary art, he gives the pieces context with historical works. The space now holds 6,000 pieces, including 3,500 photographs that date back to 1917.

Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz’s interests lie in 21st-century art from abstraction- and process-focused American artists, and this theme carries through their 30,000-square-foot de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, shown above, that opened in Miami’s Design District in 2009.

Finally, Venezuelan collector Ella Fontanals-Cisneros uses the CIFO Art Space to showcase her collection focused on Latin American abstraction, which is one of the largest collections in the world, with more than 600 pieces.

She has a unique assortment of geometric abstraction art, which is produced by a group of Latin American artists with a largely forgotten history who have begun to gain recognition only recently.

Each of these collectors was essential in bringing Art Basel to Miami Beach and earning the Magic City its fast-growing reputation in the contemporary art world. In concert with a handful of Miami’s other collectors, they successfully approached Art Basel’s holding company, MCH Swiss Exhibitions Ltd., about launching an international fair in their hometown.

In agreeing to do so, MCH presented one condition: Every year at festival time, these Miami model collectors must open their homes and spaces to the public.

Although initially taken aback, the Rubells, the de la Cruzes, Fontanals-Cisneros and Margulies all ultimately flung open their doors.

Since December 2001, their home tours and exhibition openings—launched in honor of the fair each winter—have become some of Art Basel Miami Beach’s most noteworthy attractions.

Other times of the year, these private museums are central for anyone wishing a genuine "Miami Experience".

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers a quick tour of the Margulies Collection.