Beg Borrow and Steal / Rubell Family Collection, Miami

Beg Borrow and Steal is the title of the exhibition, which the Rubell Family Collection opened on the occasion of the Art Basel Miami Beach week. The show features 260 works by 74 artists of different generations, among them Ai Weiwei, John Baldessari, Elmgreen & Dragset, Robert Gober, Jenny Holzer, Jonathan Horowitz, Jeff Koons, Adam McEwen, Andy Warhol, and Zhang Huan. The exhibition deals with the question of how artists influence each other and develop their work by borrowing or stealing ideas. The title of the exhibition was inspired by Pablo Picasso’s quote “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”.

“In 2005 the Rubells had a series of conversations with artists Kelly Walker and Wade Guyton, who talked about the generosity of some artists in the nature of their work.  Walker and Guyton described how artists like Cady Noland, Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and Richard Prince opened doors for other artists like themselves to walk through.  The Rubells had never heard that opinion expressed as honestly before.   This show was borne out of those conversations, and its title comes from a quote attributed to Picasso: “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”Â  While the question of artistic influence may not be new, what artists choose to borrow or steal, and from whom, is distinct in that it becomes a reflection of their own time.  Beg Borrow and Steal presents artists’ attempts to build on the legacies of their predecessors as they present their own new ideas. Art about art and “stolen” imagery has fueled many an artist’s production, and this exhibition contains numerous landmark examples by internationally renowned contemporary artists.” (excerpt from the press release).

During the Art Basel week the Rubell Family Collection also presented a new work by Jennifer Rubell, Old Fashioned. Old-Fashioned is an 8-foot by 60-foot freestanding wall with 1,521 donuts hung in a grid formation at 6-inch intervals. It’s the seventh year Jennifer Rubell’s work has been presented in the Rubell Family Collection courtyard during the opening week of Art Basel Miami Beach. Rubell’s other projects this year include Reconciliation, at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., which included a 270-foot-long table with 1,500 baguettes that participants were required to break in order to eat their meal; and Creation, the opening night benefit of the Performa 09 performance art biennial in New York.

Rubell Family Collection: Beg Borrow and Steal. Opening breakfast, December 3, 2009. The exhibition is running until May 29, 2010.

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