If you’ve worked in, or reported on, the contemporary art world long enough, you’re familiar with the idea of the obsessive collector. This is the collector who just can’t stop acquiring artworks, and who has built his or her house to accommodate the collection, adding rooms that are designated as galleries, rooms from which furniture has been all but banished.
An exhibition in Miami this December, “Home Alone,” will take that idea to its logical extreme.
Longtime contemporary art collector Adam Sender, 42, founder of the hedge fund Exis Capital Management, and his wife Lenore will put a portion of their contemporary art holdings on view for the first time in an exhibition in a private North Miami residence during Art Basel Miami Beach. Organized by Sender Collection curator Sarah Aibel, the exhibition will present a fictional scenario in which a collection has grown so huge that it has forced the collector and his family to pack up and leave. The art has literally taken over the house.
The setting for this exhibition is a house that Mr. Sender, who also maintains a residence in Sag Harbor, N.Y., bought in North Miami last year, but then decided he wanted to sell. Mr. Sender and his family moved into a new house nearby, leaving this one empty. So, while the house is on the market, he decided to give Ms. Aibel the run of it, curatorially speaking, and open it up to art audiences during Art Basel Miami Beach, the annual art fair extravaganza that has hit Miami every December since 2002.
The Observer caught up with Ms. Aibel by phone a couple weeks ago, when she was at the house, planning and beginning to install the show.
“My thought process at first was, I was fighting against the idea that this was a residential space,” she said. “I wanted to turn it into a white box. But it’s a residential space. Period. So I wanted to use that to its advantage.”
She installed some 70 artworks throughout the entire 5,000-square-foot home, including in closets and bathrooms. The exhibition features a number of provocative pieces installed in provocative places; a highlight is certain to be Richard Prince’s racy Spiritual America—a reproduction of a famously controversial photograph of Brooke Shields as a child, heavily made-up and naked, standing in a bathtub—hanging in one of the house’s bathrooms, right above the bathtub. (That’s not the only clever placement: Also look for Vito Acconci’s Seedbed, documentation of a 1972 performance the artist did that involved masturbating under a piece of plywood, placed underneath a sloped ceiling.)
The pieces on view were acquired by the Senders as early as when they first began collecting, in 1998. There are works by young artists like Rashid Johnson, Frank Benson, Diana Al-Hadid, Jim Lambie and Urs Fischer, as well as more established ones like Sarah Lucas, Matthew Barney, Chris Ofili, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman. Many of the pieces have never before been on public view in the United States.
There has been some anticipation surrounding the Senders’ contemporary art holdings going on view. A few years ago, Mr. Sender, who has loaned pieces to institutions like the Guggenheim and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, had plans to put the collection, which reportedly numbers around 800 works, in a private exhibition space. He considered purchasing a disused church near his home in Sag Harbor, then decided to instead become a board member of the nearby Parrish Art Museum. In June, he opened his Hamptons home, where major artworks by Urs Fischer, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Sol LeWitt and other artists were installed, for a cocktail party in support of that museum.
The Miami house will be open at select times during Art Basel Miami Beach, for private brunch receptions on the mornings of the fair, and for a private evening reception. Along with events hosted by other Miami collectors, such as Martin Margulies, Debra and Dennis Scholl and the Rubell Family, the Senders’ exhibition is included on the VIP schedule of the fair.
From the sound of it, this will be a refreshing display. “How many shows do you see in white boxes?” Ms. Aibel asked The Observer rhetorically. “You go to collection visits in homes, but when have you ever seen a show that has taken over a residence? It seemed like an interesting angle.”