New York, NY. Don Rubin is becoming perhaps my favorite role model. He is the ultimate in cool. At 76, he and his wife Shelley do what they want — redo Barney’s in Chelsea into a top art museum, the Rubin Museum of Art; support human rights; corner the market in contemporary Cuban art; and now — who knew? — introduce an exceptional, personal collection of modern and contemporary South Asian art at his alma mater, Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.
I first profiled Don’s work on HuffPost here, when he challenged me several years ago to “get my arms around” Cuban art. I chronicled his private Cuban art collection. As we sometimes meet for lunch in Chelsea, I am always amazed at his grand vision. His work — particularly with Tibetan art — is beyond anything I will ever achieve in my lifetime. Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered the Rubins have also assembled a world-class collection of modern Indian art. Part of their collection just opened at his alma mater in Atlanta, the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.
These works celebrate everyday life in South Asia and its many diasporas, from the most mundane moments to the most transcendent. The 180-page exhibition catalogue is rich in hue and detail. It features fascinating commentary from academic and auction world luminaries such as Edward Wilkinson, Rebecca M. Brown, and Susan S. Bean. The forward was written by Oglethorpe’s president, Lawrence M. Schall.
Aroon Shivdasani, founder and executive director of the prestigious Indo-American Arts Council and its phenomenal New York City film festival, told me why she thought Don’s private collection is important:
Donald Rubin’s art collection is visionary in his focused, systematic collection of Cuban, traditional Tibetan and contemporary Indian art. His personal attention to both the art as well as its presentation is his genius.
He has ensured that New Yorkers have access to rare Himalayan art (at the Rubin Museum) that may never have crossed their paths or their understanding prior to this permanent exhibition and the clear curatorial explanations of each work’s background and raison d’Ãªtre.
New York is richer for this jewel of a museum. I look forward to seeing how he houses his Indian art collection. I love the gestalt of the Rubin museum in its all encompassing embrace of the total culture — in every facet — of Himalayan art, and hope his Indian works will one day find a similar home here in New York City.
Oglethorpe University Museum of Art Presents
Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest: Modern and Contemporary Indian Art
from the Collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin
Tuesday, March 15 through Sunday, May 15
Originally posted in The Huffington Post, April 6, 2011.