RED EYE: L.A. ARTISTS from the Rubell Family Collection

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The title for this exhibition came from the process that brought it into existence: the many bleary-eyed cross-continental trips we took over the last two years—armed with our hunches, our eyes and our GPS— as we attempted to understand the Los Angeles art scene. “Red Eye” expressed our feelings of displacement and anxiety as we shifted from one paradigm to another. Every time we left Los Angeles late at night and arrived in Miami in the early morning hours, we lost our sense of today, our sense of now. For what happened today in L.A. actually occurred yesterday in Miami. 

That displacement of time, place and body is analogous to our process of collecting in general. We begin with a feeling, a sort of hunch about a place, about artistic or creative energy coming from that place. The hunch leads to a journey that opens exciting and extraordinary doors to artists, dealers, curators, museums, writers, collectors, and to the unknown. With each of these magical encounters, we begin to form a cohesive set of ideas about a place; these ideas become the seeds of a collection exhibit. After condensing these many experiences into a few brief days, we are ready to head back home to Miami. As is the case when leaving Los Angeles, we take the “Red Eye.”

Our Los Angeles journey began in 1992 at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, with Paul Schimmel’s seminal exhibition “Helter Skelter.” This show introduced us to the unexpectedly diverse and geographically scattered, art community in L.A. Influenced and inspired by this exhibition, we began to collect many of the important artists from the L.A. art scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s; their work immediately stood out as some of the most significant in our collection. In the last few years, we began to feel that an examination of more recent trends in L.A. would form a fascinating exhibition that showcased the juxtapositions and interrelationships between the new L.A. and the old. Thus, in 2004 we decided to revisit both the place that so influenced our development as collectors, and the artworks that had formed the backbone of the entire collection over the last twenty years.

Combining this specific focus of collecting with our mission to exclusively exhibit work we own, creates interesting dynamics and challenges. Time, money, place and fate are distractions to this process. We cannot expect to distill an entire art scene (nor would we ever try), but the inclusion and exclusion of artists and ideas within the paradigm of collecting creates a unique set of questions: Can we afford this work? Are there even works available by a specific artist? Are we missing something? Or, most importantly, are we looking hard enough? These are some of the questions that continually present themselves as we struggle to grow intelligently as collectors. But these vexing questions are what make this process of searching, learning and collecting so personally vital and compelling.

“Red Eye” epitomizes the very heart of our collecting. We push and pull, push and pull, push and pull again, and then we get on an airplane, head back home, wake up in a new place on a new day—bleary-eyed and trying to make sense of it all.

Jason Rubell
December 2006


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Rubell Family Collection; First edition (2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0-9789888-7-6
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 0.875 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 lb