Rubell Museum, Washington, D.C., review

I give it an A+/A.  DC now has a new museum, taken from one family collection, namely the Rubells, who already opened a large and excellent private museum in Miami.  If you know that place, this one will not surprise you.

The DC branch is in Southwest, in a former junior high school with a nice brick look (supposedly Marvin Gaye’s junior high), and it has 25 or so galleries.  All but one or two of those work extremely well.  More than half of the art on current exhibit is American “black art,” typically of recent vintage and on average with a representational and sometimes expressionistic bent.  Some of it might count as “Woke,” but it is all there because of its quality, not its politics.

Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, Cecily Brown, Carrie Mae Weems, Purvis Young, and Keith Haring would be some of the better-known artists represented in the current display.  But the Rubells own thousands of works, so change is to be expected.

Some of the smaller rooms come across as cramped, but overall the curatorial impulse is nearly perfect.  The right paintings are hung next to the right paintings, and each room has its own identity.  Most of all, this is an excellent museum for appreciating the consistency of their taste and the consistency of their eye.  The entire time you are aware that you are observing a collection.

SW will never be the same again, and it is not so far from The Wharf and Gordon Ramsey Fish n’ Chips.  Admission is free for DC residents, $15 for others.

Addendum: Here is decent NYT coverage, with some photos, so far there are oddly few substantive reviews.  However Garett Jones in his wisdom likes it too, don’t forget he has a new book coming out in two weeks.


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