Collectors like Beth Rudin DeWoody face an enviable problem: They own so much art, they have no place to hang it. That’s why DeWoody opened the Bunker, a new art facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, which was unveiled to select VIPs during Miami Art Week this past December.
“I had a lot of stuff down in storage,” DeWoody told artnet News. “I was always sad that the work couldn’t be seen.” Her collection currently numbers more than 10,000 works of art, furniture, and design objects.
DeWoody bought her first work 1969. “It was a drawing by Benny Andrews. He was my teacher at the New School, and I’ve kept it all these years.
The Bunker is a project xthat’s been in the works for four or five years, since a downturn in the real estate market allowed her to purchase a 1920s Art Deco building that once served as a munitions factory.
Now, the newly renovated 20,000-square-foot building features storage as well as exhibition space. Its inaugural show, curated by collection staffers Phillip Estlund, Laura Dvorkin, and Maynard Monrow, features such artists as Nicole Eisenman, George Condo, Marilyn Minter, Larry Bell, Al Loving, Nick Cave, Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, and Hank Willis Thomas.
For DeWoody, the best part has been the opportunity to see, sometimes for the first time, the works in her collection. “A lot of the works I hadn’t seen out before—I bought it and it went right into storage!” DeWoody said. “I love to see how things play off one another.”
The Bunker plans to host one show per year, open only by invitation. (It will be up to DeWoody’s children to decide if they want to take the Bunker public some day, she said.)
Taking a broader look at the works she’s purchased over the years, broad themes started to emerge—the exhibition has a room featuring food art, and another for works based on heads, for example—but DeWoody doesn’t collect with these ideas in mind. “I’ve read people talking about my collection and it’s ‘oh wow, they’re seeing all this stuff in it that I don’t see,'” she said. When it comes to making a purchase, “it’s just a gut feeling. I either like it, or I don’t.”
“Beth is very democratic, and that’s what I think makes her such a unique collector,” said Dvorkin, adding that DeWoody is unafraid to juxtapose big names with emerging figures, and that she “goes for the challenging works.”
“I’m just not scared of difficult subjects,” DeWoody said. “It doesn’t have to be provocative to be of interest to me, but I don’t shy away from that.”
To get a feel for the Bunker’s collection, artnet News sat down with DeWoody to talk about seven of the works she’s most excited about in its debut show.