Miami Is Full of Bad Hotel Art but the Rubell’s Purvis Young Show at the Albion Shines

The Rubells saved the artist from eviction by buying all of his paintings.

The Rubell's Purvis Young show at the Albion Hotel in Miami. Photo: Sarah Cascone.
The Rubell's Purvis Young show at the Albion Hotel in Miami. Photo: Sarah Cascone.

Wealthy collectors Don and Mera Rubell are taking the hotel lobby art game to the next level at Miami Beach’s Albion Hotel with a newly-installed exhibition of never-before-seen works by local artist Purvis Young (1943–2010).

Completely self-taught, Young created his collaged paintings from materials he scavenged from the streets of Miami’s Overtown area, a traditionally black neighborhood that is one of the oldest in the city. Miami’s art scene is known for its international character, so it’s nice to see the work of a hometown artist getting its due.

Purvis Young, Nighttime Tears and Shotgun Shacks, c.1992

Purvis Young, Nighttime Tears and Shotgun Shacks, (circa 1992), house paint on corrugated board. Photo: courtesy Skot Foreman Fine Art

The installation of 85 paintings, which opened on November 30, is mounted on a bright red wall and is the highlight of a beautifully redesigned lobby by interior designer Scott Sanders. Owned by the Rubells, the Albion has been entirely renovated.

The hotel was designed in the 1930s by Igor B. Polevitzky, known for his work in Miami Beach, and is meant to resemble an ocean liner. Paintings of nautical flags by Sabrina Baron decorate each room and are for sale in the lobby, expanding on the nautical theme.

Purvis Young, Linin' Up, c.1992

Purvis Young, Linin’ Up, (circa 1992), mixed media on wood assemblage. Photo: courtesy Skot Foreman Fine Art

The Rubells discovered Young’s work in 1995, and were immediately moved to visit his studio, located just a few blocks from their private museum, the Rubell Family Collection, then a new institution.

In a moment of true serendipity, the Rubells arrived just as Young was facing eviction from his studio, a 5,000-square-foot space chock full of thousands of works. The Rubells came to the rescue, arranging to buy each and every one of Young’s paintings.

Purvis Young, Free Ridin, c.1990

Purvis Young, Free Ridin, c.1990, paint on wood assemblage, Skot Foreman Fine Art

Paying in monthly installments over many years, the Rubells bought thousands of Young’s paintings. They have since donated his paintings to more than 20 US museums including Miami’s Bass Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and the Perez Art Museum of Miami. Thanks to Young’s prolific output, however, there is still so much work that the Albion will become a permanent rotating showcase for the artist, changing every few months.

To celebrate the new exhibition and the opening of Art Basel, the hotel is offering complimentary Purvis Young Daiquiris, made with Flor de Caña rum, through the end of the week. But take note: when artnet News stopped by Thursday afternoon, we were disappointed to discover that the lobby’s Repour Bar didn’t open until 6:30 p.m.

Purvis Young, Brother's Down, (ca. 1994)

Purvis Young, Brother’s Down, (ca. 1994), paint on pressed board.
Courtesy Skot Foreman Fine Art.


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