Arts Coverage and Review

August 19, 2017

Just say “Beth” and the Art World Knows the Rest!

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Ever since I fell prey to the contemporary art world, I’ve learned to embrace the art trimmings that go with the territory.  Sure, it’s about visuals that play onto our emotions, but there’s also the backroom drama of who’s poaching who, fair frenzy, auction records, the Ito du jours, zombie invasion…the list goes on and on.  Call it entertainment a la “Real Housewives” except flipping has nothing to do with tables.

he Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

And, the key characters to it all are the collectors — think Rubells, Horts, Saatchi and Zabludowicz — whose influential taste can elevate an artist to the upper stratosphere.  However, when I think of collectors, there’s one that stands out head and shoulders, short hair and big jewelry too.  Just say the name “Beth” and many in the art world will know the rest — Rudin DeWoody that is.

Ms. DeWoody is the celebrated patron of the arts who hails from New York’s Rudin family, and is considered one of the world’s foremost and well-informed collectors of contemporary art.  So if find yourself in Palm Beach, be sure to drop by The Norton Museum of Art and check out The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects.  It’s a rare peek into Ms. DeWoody’s collecting ways, exhibiting approximately 200 works (I did say a peek) from her personal treasure trove of art.

The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art.  Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art.  Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

Cheryl Brutvan, Norton Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Contemporary Art, calls DeWoody, “one of the most fascinating, adventurous, and passionate collectors of contemporary art.” The part-time West Palm Beach resident, who has been collecting since the 1970s, has amassed a collection of nearly 10,000 paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and photographs.

Due to space limitation, the exhibition is structured to reveal Ms. DeWoody’s enthusiasms and concentrations in her collection. Drawings and sculptures are well-represented strengths in her collecting.  In fact, the exhibition title is based on a colorful, early drawing by Cy Twombly.

he Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

he Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

Highlights include: American California-based artist Bruce Connor, whose funky assemblage sculpture, Drum (1962), is one of 10 pieces in DeWoody’s collection and represents her interest in recent historical movements and the physical character of some of her choices. It is in contrast to Sylvie Fleury, another artist she has pursued in depth, acquiring 15 silver- and gold-plated sculptures by her. Fleury’s work is characterized by appropriating consumer culture through luxury goods as seen in the work Prada Boots (2003). Other featured artists include: Nicole Eisenman, Karl Benjamin, David Wojnarowicz, Isamu Noguchi, and Jim Lambie, among many others.

I was also curious to know of Ms. DeWoody’s recent acquisitions and learned that Travess Smalley (Victor Weave) and Nick Cave (Hustle Coat – of which I saw at Miami Basel) are on her list.

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he Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

he Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at The Norton Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Jacek Gancarz

DeWoody is a longtime supporter of the Norton, serving on its Photography Committee and funding the Museum’s biennial Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers, which is named after her father, the late real estate developer Lewis Rudin. She also has donated art to the Norton’s permanent collection.

In my mind… I admire Ms. DeWoody’s eclectic eye and mix of artists that are in her collection.  It’s not all about the big names and large scale trophy art, but perhaps a reflection of her personality, gut instinct and burning passion to support artists as a whole.

I remember Ms. DeWoody from my early PR days while working in a tony co-op office along Central Park West. My then boss (MR) is a dear friend of hers, and I would take her messages and see Ms. DeWoody at special events.  Now ya think that would have been a perfect opportunity to learn about art from Ms. DeWoody (and my boss), except contemporary art wasn’t on my radar back then. Yup, a classic case of being in the right place at the wrong time.

Ms. DeWoody's curates "The White Sale Show" at Loretta Howard Gallery in 2011

Ms. DeWoody’s curates “The White Sale Show” at Loretta Howard Gallery in 2011

So fast forward to 2011.  I’m in Chelsea inside an elevator when Ms. DeWoody steps in.  I re-introduced myself and we both got off on the same floor where she curated a show “The White Sale” at Loretta Howard Gallery.  It was a treat to hear talk about the artist selection…and let’s just say I was star struck, signed catalog and all.

The exhibition runs through May 3, 2015.  Just tell them your there to see Beth!

Related Links:

Sotheby’s – Spontaneous Collector

Hampton’s Magazine – Beth Rudin DeWoody Opens Her Southampton Home

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