Washington

In an Expansion, the Rubell Museum Will Bring Its Tastemaking Private Art Collection to Washington, D.C., Next Year


Miami’s Rubell Museum, one of the most prestigious and influential private contemporary art institutions in the U.S., is expanding with a long-awaited second location in Washington, D.C.

Founded by Don and Mera Rubell, the institution is a showcase for their extensive art collection. For emerging artists, the Rubell’s patronage (and a coveted residency at the museum) can be star-making—Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, Lucy Dodd, and, most recently, Amoako Boafo are among the many artists who have benefitted from their stamp of approval.

The couple began collecting art the year they married, back in 1964. In 1993, they began welcoming the public to the Rubell Family Collection in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. In 2019, the private museum movedwith great fanfare—to the city’s Allapattah neighborhood, rebranding itself the Rubell Museum.

The new D.C. branch will display contemporary paintings, sculptures, photography, and installation art in the former Randall Junior High School. The property has a long history in Washington. Originally built in 1906, the school operated until 1978, when the city converted it into a men’s shelter and artist studios.

The Corcoran College of Art + Design bought the building from the city in 2006 and planned to develop it into a campus and luxury condominiums, but the project foundered after the financial crisis. The Rubells, who own the Capitol Skyline Hotel down the street, bought the building from the Corcoran for $6.5 million back in 2010, according to Art in America.

Plagued by delays and partnership changes (last year, the real estate developer Lowe took over the project), the redevelopment now appears to be back on track. It is expected to open by the end of 2022.

Mera Rubell at the construction site for the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum, formerly the Randall School in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

Mera Rubell and and Hany Hasson, the lead architect for the project from Beyer Blinder Belle, at the site for the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum, formerly the Randall School in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Rubells will take over the central building and east wing, adding a glass entry pavilion designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners featuring a bookstore, café, and an outdoor dining terrace. The west wing will serve as office space for a variety of companies in creative fields such as nonprofits, cultural institutions, and technology incubators.

A spokesperson for the Rubells declined to offer additional details about their plans for the museum. The couple’s collection includes extensive holdings of work by Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Catherine Opie, Kerry James Marshall, and other famous names.

Lowe, the project’s developer, is also building Gallery 64, a new 12-story residential building, on the 2.7 acre grounds. It will house 492 units of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, 98 of which will be dedicated to affordable housing. The Historic Preservation Review Board and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission have approved the concept design for the historic property’s redevelopment.

The museum’s 100,000-square-foot Miami campus, designed by Selldorf Architects, features 40 galleries, a library, and a restaurant housed in a retrofitted food processing complex.

See more renderings of the D.C. project below.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and PlannersThe Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Rubell Museum DC will be located at 65 Eye Street, SW, Washington, D.C.

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Robert Colescott’s Caustic Satire of ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ Is Poised to Reset the Artist’s Market at Sotheby’s Next Month


The late American painter Robert Colescott’s charged satire of Washington Crossing the Delaware will hit the auction block next month—and it is poised to smash the late artist’s current auction record. 

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, as the artist’s landmark 1975 canvas is called, is set to highlight Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in New York on May 12. It’s estimated to go for $9 million to $12 million—that’s roughly 10 times Colescott’s current auction record of $912,500, set in 2018.

The Washington painting carries a financial guarantee, according to the auction house, making it certain to sell. Colescott’s profile has been on a steady incline in recent years, spurred in part by support from artist Kerry James Marshall, who has been vocal about Colescott’s influence on his work. Blum & Poe also began representing the artist’s estate in 2017. His public auction prices, however, do not currently reflect his stature. 

Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, a staple of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection since 1897 (not to mention scores of American history texts) is the overt reference behind Colescott’s 20th-century masterwork. But where the former artist lionizes the general in a macho wartime scene, Colescott’s take is much more caustic: Washington and his men are replaced by inventor agricultural scientist Washington Carver and a boat full of cartoonish Black caricatures—a banjo player, a barefoot fisherman, and a mammy figure performing fellatio on the flag bearer. 

“With its social and political resonance and sheer pictorial force, today Colescott’s painting greatly rivals the iconic quality of its source image, offering a critical reckoning with the history of American art,” David Galperin, head of Sotheby’s New York contemporary evening auctions, said in a statement.

According to the auction house, the painting has remained in the same Midwestern collection since 1976, when it was purchased from John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. Sotheby’s declined to share additional information about the identity of the consignor, but the Art Newspaper reports that it belonged to the late Robert and Lois Orchard of St. Louis, Missouri.

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware was included in the critically acclaimed retrospective of Colescott’s work that opened at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in 2019 before traveling to the Portland Art Museum. The exhibition, curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and Raphaela Platow, will wrap up its tour this summer at the Sarasota Art Museum. 

Meanwhile, Colescott’s painting is on public view now through April 21 at the auction house’s Hong Kong branch. After that run, it will head to Sotheby’s New York for a May 1 through 12 exhibition leading up to the sale.

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To Celebrate the Glass Ceiling Kamala Harris Shattered, This Artist Installed a Portrait of Her in Washington Made Entirely of Cracked Glass


Vice President Kamala Harris’s history-making election as the first female, Black, and Asian American to serve in our nation’s second-highest office has been immortalized in a new artwork.

Swiss artist Simon Berger’s sculpture, installed yesterday in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, by the National Women’s History Museum and the women’s leadership network Chief, is made from broken glass, symbolizing the shattering of the glass ceiling that prevents women from advancing to leadership positions.

“Representation matters, especially at the ballot box, and the inauguration of Kamala Harris as the first woman, and first woman of color, to serve as vice president of the United States is a landmark moment in American history,” said Holly Hotchner, the museum’s president and CEO, in a statement.

“Today’s progress is built on the legacy of the women who came before—the trailblazers, like Kamala, who raised their voices, marched for their rights, and ran for elected office; the women who cracked glass ceilings so that other women could shatter them,” Hotchner added.

Berger developed his unique artistic practice of glass shattering in 2016, when he started taking a hammer to layers of laminated glass to create cracks and fissures that, from a distance, create legible images.

He based his six-and-a-half-foot-tall portrait of Harris, titled Glass Ceiling Breaker, on a photograph by Celeste Sloman.

A short film of Berger at work on the piece, set to the sounds of Harris’s victory speech, honors some of the women who came before her to break other political barriers: the first female congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm; the first female senator, Carol Moseley Braun; secretaries of state Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice; and supreme court justices Sandra Day O’Conner and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Simon Berger, Glass Ceiling Breaker, based on Celeste Sloman's portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris. The art installation on the National Mall in Washington, DC, is presented by the National Women's History Museum, Chief, and BBH New York. Photo by Shannon Finney courtesy of Getty Images for National Women's History Museum and Chief.

Simon Berger, Glass Ceiling Breaker, based on Celeste Sloman’s portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo by Shannon Finney courtesy of Getty Images for National Women’s History Museum and Chief.

In her vice-president-elect acceptance speech, Harris thanked “the generations of women… who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight.… And I stand on their shoulders.”

The museum enlisted creative agency BBH New York and production company m ss ng p eces to stage the installation of the work, which has been displayed against the stunning backdrop of the National Mall’s reflecting pool and the Washington Monument. It is on view through tomorrow evening.

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