An Affair of the Art
By Bill Kearney
11am - The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse
I walk past the eerie 17-foot wingspan of Anselm Kiefer's three-ton Sprach der Vögel, past Olafur Eliasson's raw, rocky Islandic landscapes and into the Warehouse's main room, where Marty Margulies, alongside curator Katherine Hinds, is in the middle of welcoming Chinese artist Song Dong. Dong flew in yesterday to install his latest work for display during the week of Art Basel Miami Beach, the most crucial few days of the year for heavyweight collectors such as Margulies, both to share his collection and possibly buy art. Dong proffers a gift of tea and chopsticks, and the three watch Margulies's crew installs Dong's arrangement of vintage wardrobe doors--foraged fom China--and set up to form a sort of rustic hall of mirrors. Each one is nearly identical, as per Cultural Revolution law, but also altered, dented from decades of family use, imbued with stories and heartbreak, and reflecting the visage of anyone viewing the art. "There's a history of people that use these," says Margulies. "It's about humanity. It's a very moving thing for me."
Back in the office, Margulies ribs his assistant Nunzio Auricchio, about hanging art faster--they're expecting 5,000 visitors during Basel week and need to arrange pieces by Ai Weiwei, Jannis Kounellis, and Michelangelo Pistoletto. How does Margulies decide what to buy? "It has to fit into the rest of the collection, and that's a feel you develop," he says. "It's not about fashion; it's not about who's the hottest artist. For example, Miró is the bridge between Surrealism and abstraction, so if you have a Miró, it's natural to go with de Kooning. Pivotial is a great word, and those [works] are almost impossible to find unless you have a huge amount of money, and that's not me."