All of these studio visits have contributed to a collection that offers a sweeping view of the art of the past half-century. It encompasses movements that have yet to be classified, media that range from paintings to vacuum cleaners, and works made by artists from China to the United States. Instead of being thematically connected or focused on a particular style, the collection is tied together by the Rubells’ belief in the new.
“There’s a lot of embarrassment connected with collecting contemporary art. Well, now it’s a little more popular, but there was a time when people would come into the house and either not say a word about the art or use words like, ‘Oh, interesting,’” Mera said. “To collect young art takes a degree of not being afraid of other people’s [opinions]. Believing in your eye, believing in what you’re learning, and saying, ‘Does this art do something for me? How is this enlarging my life?’ That’s what you have to ask yourself.”