ASC See Miami 2019: The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse by Diana Cristancho

STUDENT BIO

My name is Diana Cristancho and I am a sophomore at Florida International University. I am majoring in Recreational Therapy in the hopes of becoming an Occupational Therapist with Animal Assistance. I am the American Cancer Society Ambassador for 2019 and I am currently in the Street Team committee for Relay For Life. Some of my hobbies include writing poetry, playing volleyball, exercising, traveling, rescuing animals and basically any outdoor activity. I love trying new things so I joined the Honor College to expand my horizons and learn more about subjects I wouldn’t usually study. With that, I enrolled in the class Art Society Conflict which I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from. 

GEOGRAPHY

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is located in the Wynwood Art District of Miami just off I-95. It’s in its own little corner on 27th st surrounded by gates. The address is 591 NW 27th St, Miami, FL 33127. It’s only a few blocks away from all the new hottest restaurants, clubs and stores in Wynwood. The Warehouse sits on 50,000 square feet of land which holds some of Martin Z. Margulies’ 5,000 collected artworks. Although the outside may look like any ordinary warehouse, what’s held inside makes it spectacular and incomparable to any other location in Wynwood [Ref.4].

HISTORY

Martin Z. Margulies Collection Volume 1 and 2

You really can’t talk about the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse without talking about Martin Z. Margulies himself. Mr. Margulies is a real estate developer that graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He originally wasn’t very interested in art but, on a tour that Mr. Margulies gave my class while visiting his collection, he told us the story on how it all began. He started out building houses in Miami when he met a woman. Mr. Margulies would have conversation mostly about sports with her until she said to him, “What is wrong with you?” and encouraged him to learn about art. Not too long after he would go to purchase his first piece of art. Now he has been collecting art for more than 40 years and is named the ART News Top 200 Collectors. Before having the Warehouse, Mr.Margulies started with his own private collection where he would only collect paintings and sculptures. In 1992, he started collecting photography after “he fell in love with a 7 feet tall photograph of a woman by Thomas Ruff” and now has more than 4,000 photographs. In 1999, he decided to open his collection to the public by opening the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. The Martin Z. Margulies Foundation is in charge of managing and funding the Warehouse as a not for profit institution. This year makes the 20th year anniversary since the institution opened [Ref.1].

MISSION

Martin Z. Margulies’ main goal in opening his collection to the public is to encourage the education of the arts. As Mr.Margulies said, “art is about learning and educating yourself” [Ref.2].  He has the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse open to students and visitors from all around the world. He has his collection open to students for free in order to have no barriers between a student and their opportunity to learn about art. Mr.Margulies is also very well known for gifting his art and donating to other institutions. For example, he is the benefactor and owner of the Florida International University Art Sculpture Park. He also gifted the National Museum of African American History and Culture his Saint John the Baptist painting by Kehinde Wiley. Another painting he gifted was Anthony Caro’s Double Variation to Cornell University. Not only is Mr.Margulies very generous with his gifts and donations, but he is also very philanthropic. Due to his former wife being the founder of the Lotus House, he serves on the board of the Lotus Endowment fund and has given over 2.5 million dollars to them. With the money donated to the Lotus House, they were able to build the Overtown youth center in downtown Miami. These are just a few out of the many donations Mr.Margulies has done to stand by his mission and help students in their education in the arts and homeless women and children [Ref.1].

ACCESS

Shipwrecked, 2000 by Justine Kurland

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is not very easy to spot but once you arrive at the gates, there is a parking lot right in front. Inside the gates, there is free parking but it is very minimal, fitting maybe 12 or so cars. Although there is little free parking, there is a lot of space to park beside the parking lot and warehouse by the sidewalk. If parking in any area outside the warehouse, the Pay By Phone app is needed in order to pay an hourly parking fee. The Warehouse is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 am to 4 pm. The only time the times change is during Art Basel and during Christmas. During Art Basel, they are open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm. For Christmas, they are closed from December 22nd to January 1st [Ref.4].

COLLECTION

“The Margulies Collection is considered by curators, critics, artists, dealers, and collectors as one of the most important collections of its kind”[Ref.4]. It is full of contemporary and modern art and was valued at 800 million dollars in 2008 [Ref. 2]. With artworks from all around the United States and Europe, it holds more than 5,000 contemporary pieces. His collection contains works of European Modernism, Minimalism, Arte Povera, Abstract Expressionism, Conceptual, video, contemporary photography and many more [Ref.1]. When asked what all the art in his collection had in common Mr.Margulies replied with “myself.” He said that it is “a reflection of my personality” and that it is a “collection of my external and internal experiences in my life” [Ref. 2]. That being said, the art that he keeps in his collection says a lot about him. Some of the art that will be permanently in his collection as of now include artworks by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Cindy Sherman, George Segal, Ernesto Neto, and Anslem Kiefer. 

Magdalena Abakanowicz

HURMA, 1994-95 by Magdalena Abakanowics

Walking into the Warehouse you are already welcomed with sculptures and paintings, but looking to the right, you will see a small piece of a massive sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz. As you walk into the room you will be amazed at the group of 250 figures titled HURMA. This group of headless figures shows adults and children facing forwards. The figures are made out of light brown material making the room feel solemn. It gives you a sense of despair while leaving you wondering: Why are the figures headless? What happened to them? What does it all mean? Personally seeing them headless, placed each individual on the same level. It didn’t matter if they were adults or children, they were all headless and they all went through the same thing. The scary part of this piece is that you assume that they went through a terrible event, but it could just as easily mean that they all just went through something as simple, or not so simple,  as life. Here humanity is stripped away and all that is left is the body. Overall, Abakanowicz intended to make a statement about art itself. She explains, “I wanted to tell you that art is the most harmless activity of mankind. But I suddenly recalled that art was often used for propaganda purposes by totalitarian systems. I wanted to tell you also about the extraordinary sensitivity of an artist, but I recalled that Hitler was a painter and Stalin used to write sonnets. Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.” She wants to make the point that art is the middle ground between our imagination and the real world. Since all the art in this collection has Mr.Margulies in common, it is fitting that this piece is in it because of its meaning and the fact that this collection represents the midpoint of the internal and external aspects of Mr. Margulies. 

Cindy Sherman

Untitled (Bus Riders), 1976-2000 by Cindy Sherman

To the left of the Warehouse, you enter one room, to enter into another, full of photography. Right when you enter directly in the back of the room, the first thing you see is a set of 15 black and white photographs lined up next to each other. When looking closer, you see that each picture shows a different person posing either on a chair or just standing. The most shocking part of these photographs is that each person in each image is, in fact, a self-portrait of Cindy Sherman, the photographer. This piece is called Untitled (Bus Riders) and shows Sherman painted and dressed up as different people riding a bus. The most impactful aspect of this collection of images is that it was taken around the time of the Son of Sam, the American serial killer. On any ordinary day, these images would just be bus riders, but the fact that it came out during that time, makes it terrifying. Something like doing a part of your daily routine like riding a bus can become very dangerous. Anyone of these hypothetical people could be targeted for murder. It opens your eyes to the dangers of everyday life and how corrupt our world can me. Everyone assumes they are safe until something happens. I particularly like how the Margulies collection at the Warehouse has it set up, because even though each individual in the pictures look different and could be from different social classes, the fact that they are lined up with no one picture higher than the other, puts everyone’s life experience at the same level. Once again the idea of equality appears.

George Segal

Left: Subway, 1968 by George Segal
Right: Depression Bread Line, 1991 by George Segal

If you go back to the entrance of the Warehouse and walk straight towards the center of the collection, right by the office, you will see two sculptures by George Segal. To the Left, there is a sculpture of an all-white woman sitting on a subway chair. This sculpture titled Subway gives a sense of loneliness since the person is sitting alone. In the subway window, you see only darkness as if the person is inside the subway tunnel with only a flickering light at the very top of the window. The lighting, the subway chairs and the map behind one of the chairs are not well kept and show aspects of neglect. The subway car was taken from a New York junkyard for scrapped city property showing how little the transportation in new york is managed. With the subway, we see another activity of daily life for many people. It could be dangerous, lonely and holds no filters for what a New Yorker goes through. So many people live in their own world but can live extremely similar lives to others around them. Everyone feels lonely and everyone can feel defeated, you just have to see it in someone else to realize it. That is what this sculpture shows me and I think it does the same for many others. Next to Subway is segal’s sculpture called, Depression Bread Line. George Segal was commissioned to build this sculpture so that it could be placed in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. This sculpture also represents loneliness and equality, as each individual in the line is living in the Great Depression. None of the individuals are making eye contact due to the difficult times occurring in the country. It wasn’t a time to be social because everyone was going through their own problems and most people already knew what the other person was going through, poverty and loneliness. Besides this painting on a plaque, FDR’s famous words are stated, “I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished… The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Anslem Kiefer

Die Erdzeitalter (Ages of the World), 2014 by Anselm Kiefer
Left: Sprache del Vögel (Language of the Birds), 1989 by Anslem Kiefer
Top right: Geheimnis der Farne (The Secret of the Ferns), 2007 by Anslem Kiefer
Bottom left: Töchter Liliths (Lilith’s daughter), 1989 by Anslem Kiefer

Past George Segal’s work, to the far back there are multiple works by Anslem Kiefer. Each piece by Kiefer has the same grotesque, post-apocalyptic feel to it. Whether it is Töchter Liliths (Lilith’s daughter), Die Erdzeitalter (Ages of the World), Geheimnis der Farne (The Secret of the Ferns), or Sprache del Vögel (Language of the Birds). With his sculptures, he reverts back to our history and pulls out the demonic, corrupt, destructive, evolutionary, poetic, dystopian, and magical aspects of this universe. In Lilith’s Daughter, he uses the sinful stories of Lilith and her demon children to describe the poverty and the decline of Brazil. In Ages of the World, he uses, pictures, canvases, earth, and charcoal e to create a type of totem and funeral pyre to represent the ruin of the planet and humankind. The Secret of the Ferns goes back to the primitive beings of the world, ferns, and covers the cycle of the world showing destruction and rebirth. Last, Language of the Birds touches a form of magic that in many stories, has corrupted human beings, alchemy. Tying it together, this last sculpture takes old books and scraps of natural products and transforms it into a poetic and meaningful piece that slaps you in the face with the answer to the sorcery that is alchemy. Anslem Kiefer states, “the ideology of alchemy is the hastening of time, as in the lead-silver-gold cycle which needed only time in order to transform lead into gold. In the past, the alchemist sped up this process with magical means. That was called magic. As an artist, I don’t do anything differently. I only accelerate the transformation that is already present in things. That is magic as I understand it.”

Ernesto Neto


É ô Bicho!, 2001 by Ernesto Neto

Walking to the right past Anslem Kiefer’s art, you enter another room with the most extraordinary and captivating piece. This contemporary sculpture uses an interactive nature where individuals can walk in between the tubes and smell each socket. This artwork, hanging from the ceiling breaks the boundaries of contemporary art and does something that no other piece in Warehouse does, use your sense of smell. Inside each polyamide tube, there is turmeric, black pepper, and cloves. The scent is so strong, that the moment you walk into the room the scent of the Warehouse changes completely. This piece isn’t just artwork itself, but it makes its surroundings art as well. A person’s sense of smell is extremely powerful in the way that it can bring about emotion or memory that is different for every individual. We use our senses to communicate and distinguish feeling such as happiness, sadness, anger, nostalgia and more. Neto stated on the plaque by this piece that, “what we have in common is more important than what makes us different. I am interested in debating the plight of humanity, the temperature of the things we experience, the movement of things and language.” For this piece, it is crucial to remember that the most important thing about art is communication and how you can use any material. 

The rest of the Margulies Collection also includes artists such as Willem de Kooning, Frank Stella, John Chamberlain and Joel Sternfeld who have impacted the art world in their own way and have contributed to the impressionable collection of Mr.Margulies. Most of the artworks collected by Mr.Margulies can also be seen in the two books he published, Martin Z. Margulies Collection Volume 1 and 2

EXHIBITIONS

The front view of the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Since the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is compiled of works that Mr.Margulies has bought, there aren’t any exhibitions dedicated to one particular artist. While the art presented in the Warehouse does change, he keeps most of his art unless he is donating it or selling it in order to buy another painting. During our tour, he mentioned that “if you stop collecting than you stop moving forward” so on certain occasions he has to sell some of his art. Although he has no exhibitions towards one artist, he has an exhibition dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Warehouse. The exhibition is called, “Can It Really Be 20 Years Already? Art in Our Times, Contemporary Masters, and Philanthropy.” In this exhibition, he is “featuring 20th and 21st-century sculpture, photography, video, painting and large-scale installations by international artists” from his collection. 

“This season’s 20th-year anniversary exhibition will include works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Radcliffe Bailey, Eric Bainbridge, Domenico Bianchi, Gilles Barbier, Florian Baudrexel, William Beckman, John Beech, Jeff Brouws, Peter Buggenhout, Lawrence Carroll, John Chamberlain, Olafur Eliasson, Willem de Kooning, Donna Dennis, Nathalie Djurberg, Mark di Suvero, William Eggleston, Leandro Erlich, Kota Ezawa, Michael Heizer, Thomas Hirschhorn, Pieter Hugo, Anselm Kiefer, Justine Kurland, Sol LeWitt, Donald Lokuta, Emil Lukas, Danny Lyon, Chema Madoz, Ibrahim Mahama, Mark Manders, Barry McGee, Dave Muller, Wilhelm Mundt, Jackie Nickerson, Isamu Noguchi, Tony Oursler, Maurizio Pellegrin, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Jason Rhoades, Nancy Rubins, George Segal, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Shinique Smith, Kenneth Snelson, Jennifer Steinkamp, Frank Stella, Joel Sternfeld, Kishio Suga, William Tucker, Paolo Ventura, Eudora Welty, Franz West, and Lois Weinberger” [Ref.3].

SPECIAL PROGRAMS

Untitled (Truck Installation with TVs), 2004 by Barry McGee

The Margulies Collection has created hundreds of programs to encourage their mission of educating individuals in the arts. One of the most common programs they have is guided tours of the collection by Mr.Margulies, Katherine Hinds, or other associates of theirs. Most of the tours are given to groups of students and some others are open to the public. The Margulies collection also provides lectures, internships, speakers and publications. Some other events that the Institution organizes are the annual gala fundraiser for the Lotus House [Ref.3]. 

VISITOR

Interview of Rosemie Leyre

Q: Is this your first time at the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse? 

RL: It is, indeed. 

Q: Where are you from? Do you live in Miami or are you visiting from somewhere else? 

RL: I am from Boston. 

Q: Where did you hear about the Margulies Collection?

RL: I heard about it from my daughter who is a sculptor in Belgium, Alexandra Leyre Mein.

Q: What is your opinion on the Margulies collection?

RL: For one thing it is impressive, but that is such a general word. It’s just that I’m so glad that I am here and that I had a chance to see it because my experience here in the USA is that we see less good art than I would see in Belgium or in other countries and coming here, it is very different. He has such a large variety of art. 

Q: Is there a particular piece that you really liked?

RL: Yes I really liked Magdalena Abakanowicz sculpture, HURMA, and of course anything by Anselm Kiefer.  Every time I see his work I am impressed. 

Q: Have you been to other art galleries, collections, and/or museums and how do they compare to the Margulies Collection? 

RL: Yes I have and I definitely place the Margulies Collection higher than other places I’ve been to. His collection just speaks for itself. 

Q: What feelings and emotions come to the surface when you look at his collection?

RL: I look at his art and I have no words. There are so many things that can’t be said with words but the art that Mr.Margulies collects speaks without using words. Being here and looking at his art, I just feel grateful that I can see it and experience it. It’s absolutely breathtaking and the fact that he shares his art is incredible.

PORTRAIT

Interview of Olivia Edwards the Assistant Curator of the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Q: Where are you from? 

OE: I am from Maine. 

Q: What is your job as Assistant Curator? 

OE: I wear many hats working here. We just published a two-volume book and I worked on that. I was the point of contact between the writers, illustrators, designers, Mr. Margulies and Kathrine Hinds (the curator). I’m the middle man in a lot of ways, between Marti (the collector) and the public, in terms of conveying things that he wants to do with the collection. I also deal with the press and give tours, scheduling events and lectures and then just doing typical office work. 

Q: How did you end up working here? 

OE: I studied art history in Massachusetts and when I moved to Miami, I was looking for a job in art and I happen to be looking at the same time that they were hiring.  

Q: Do you like working here and why?

OE: I really do like working here. First and foremost because of the art. I love the quality of art and I love that the collection is always changing. Also, Mr.Margulies has such a good eye and he’s constantly going out and looking for new work. There’s always something fresh going on. 

Q: How would you describe the Margulies collection?

OE: It’s very historical and gives you a real survey of contemporary art history from the 1940s and onwards. It includes photography, videos, sculptures, and paintings. It touches every movement and important time in art history. Since 1940 there’s a little bit from every moment, even 2019. The video by Jennifer Steinkamp was fairly recent. 

Q: How would you describe Mr.Margulies?

OE: Mr.Margulies has been collecting for more than 40 years now and he has a really well-developed eye. He is a pleasure to work for and he does a lot to give to the community which I think is really important to the community and that makes working here more enjoyable. It makes it feel like what we are doing is going towards something good. 

Q: Do you have a favorite piece in his art collection? 

OE: It’s tough to pick but I would say, in his private collection my favorite work might be Philip Guston’s the Door and that was recently shown at the ICA or not so recent but when the ICA opened it was part of the opening exhibition. For the Warehouse, I would say Ages of the World by Anselm Kiefer.

Q: Where does Mr. Margulies usually look for art? 

OE: You know sometimes we always think that he’s going to go to New York or Europe but he’ll surprise us sometimes by buying from a local gallery. Like the pink painting by Anna Betbeze that is actually a little obstructed from view right now but that’s a piece from the Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami. It’s really hard to say where he will or won’t buy from. For him, it’s all about the art and he’s constantly looking. But I would say the majority of the work that he buys is from New York or Europe. 

Q: When is the busiest time of year for the Warehouse? 

OE: Last week during Art Basel was definitely our busiest week for the year. We get about a 500% increase in traffic. It’s really big, we get people from all over the world which we typically do during the year too.  We don’t really have a budget, as we’re a non-profit, for advertising so when people come to us it’s usually by word of mouth or they know us through other art institutions. Most people that come in are usually from New York or overseas. We get very few Miami people to come in. 

Q: Are there any future plans for Mr.Margulies and his collection? 

OE: On the calendar, there isn’t anything really planned out yet but we are thinking about this event that we always do for the Lotus House. It’s a gala fundraiser for them and will happen in April. But that’s the only real thing on our calendar. We are thinking of doing an open tour by Mr. Margulies that’s open to the public or a lecture of sorts. 

Q: How often does Mr.Margulies usually donate a piece? 

OE: I wouldn’t say that it’s based on time or schedule where he feels it’s time to donate something but it’s more of a case by case basis. For instance, the Smithsonian institution was opening and African American museum in Washington DC and they didn’t have a Kehinde Wiley piece and it was something that we did have in the collection, so he decided to gift the Kehinde Wiley to the museum so that they could have one and I believe it’s on permanent view there. 

SUMMARY

Images of the video projection of Blind Eye 3, 2018 by Jennifer Steinkamp

Overall, I was astonished by the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. Going once isn’t enough. The first time I went I was with my class and I absolutely loved it, but once I came the second time alone, I was able to take in everything I saw. I spent about two and a half hours there and I could’ve stayed longer. You can go to enjoy the art, to test your mind by analyzing the work or even just to sit and take in the works it has to offer. In the middle of my visit, I sat in front of Jennifer Steinkamp’s video projection titled Blind Eye 3. I sat there for what seemed like 15 minutes just watching the trees and leaves change. It was a moment of peace away from the constant topics of destruction, even though the projection itself showed the death and rebirth of the trees. Each artwork I saw in the Warehouse collection attached itself to our history. His collection spoke about equality, loneliness, destruction, corruption, change, and rebirth. Each artist uses the concept of alchemy to use what they have and turn nothing into something influential, meaningful, and imaginative. The whole collection shows how imagination and art is the universal language. These artworks have these ideas and topics in common. Yes, Mr.Margulies is the connecting point of all the works, but everyone, even Mr. Margulies thinks about these topics. The art doesn’t just tie him into it, it ties every visitor that comes to view his collection. That’s what makes his collection so powerful and captivating. I would like to thank Martin Z. Margulies for sharing his collection with the public when he could have easily kept it to himself. 

REFERENCES

  1. Adeniji, Ade. “Martin Margulies: Real Estate Grants.” Inside Philanthropy, Inside Philanthropy, 17 July 2019, http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/real-estate-givers/martin-margulies.
  2. Arielhauter. “Martin Z. Margulies.” ARTnews.com, 11 Dec. 2019, http://www.artnews.com/art-collectors/top-200-profiles/martin-z-margulies/.
  3. “Can It Really Be 20 Years Already? Art in Our Times, Contemporary Masters, and Philanthropy.” Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, 2019.
  4. “Images.” Margulies Collection, Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, 2019, http://www.margulieswarehouse.com/.

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