You can’t talk about Miami’s rise in the art world over the past two decades without mentioning the major role played by Craig Robins, the developer behind the Miami Design District. As CEO and President of real estate company Dacra and founder of Design Miami art fairs, Robins is one of the figures responsible for bringing Art Basel to Miami Beach and is widely considered the driving force behind the transformation. of Miami into an international cultural center.
Recently, the Miami Design District announced that Germane Barnes had been awarded its annual public art commission, following an invitational nomination process. Barnes’ concept, “Rock | Roll”, will be performed in the open spaces of the neighborhood and will debut in November before Miami Art Week.
The installation draws on the dynamic visual language of the Miami Carnival to honor the BIPOC communities who have contributed to Miami’s polyethnic culture. “The imaginative and local focus of this year’s site-specific installation is going to be a lot of fun,” Robins said.
We caught up with Robins – who is also, unsurprisingly, an avid art collector – to talk about what he’s been buying recently.
What was your first purchase (and how much did you pay)?
I don’t remember exactly what I paid, but my first consecutive purchase was John Baldessari’s text painting Clement Greenberg from 1967, and I also bought two very important photographic works from the 1970s. Before that, I was collecting, but I feel like that was the big moment.
What was your last purchase?
I bought a very nice painting by Jana Euler.
What works or artists do you hope to add to your collection this year?
Generally, I like to find artists and then continue to collect them. So it would be great if there was a good opportunity to get another piece of work from some of the artists that are already in the collection.
What is the most expensive work of art you own?
It’s hard to know what the actual values are for some of these very rare works, but I’d say works by Marlene Dumas, 1960s John Baldessari, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby would be in the higher values. And of course, that of Marcel Duchamp Three standard stops.
Where do you most often buy art?
I generally buy art from dealers who represent the artists that I am. Art fairs like Art Basel are also important. Sometimes I buy work there; other times it’s an opportunity to connect with dealers and make arrangements to buy things in the future. Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch have been curating an exhibit in the Miami Design District during Art Basel Miami for several years now, and it’s often an amazing resource to get some of the really important works, like for example, I had my Barkley Hendricks and my Jenny Saville there. I had many very good works through them. Exhibitions are also very important just to see what’s happening in the art world, so I find it a good time to network, study, acquire. But most of my acquisitions come from purchases from art dealers, and generally, they are more primary market works.
Is there a work you regret buying?
Not really, because every purchase is a learning experience. What I aspire to do is buy a work, then hang it and live with it, and decide if I want to continue collecting that artist. So, in a way, the works that are perhaps the least interesting are the ones that I learn that I don’t want to continue collecting anymore. Sometimes I only have one work from an artist just because it’s really hard to get another one.
What work have you hung above your couch? And in your bathroom?
It changes all the time, but right now I have a John Currin painting and a Henry Taylor painting above my couch. And my whole bathroom was designed by Zaha Hadid, so you could say it’s a sculpture in its own right.
What’s the least practical piece of art you own?
I used to buy a lot of very large scale works, and extremely large works that cannot be displayed outside. These are the most impractical.
What work would you have liked to buy when you had the opportunity?
I was offered a great piece from the 1960s by Ed Ruscha, and it was very reasonably priced, but I just didn’t think I could afford it at the time.
If you could steal one piece of art without getting caught, what would it be?
I don’t think I would enjoy stealing a piece of art.
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