Rebecca Taylor knows art. She knows it. She literally travels the world for art, whether it’s a work trip, a festival, or a personal art pilgrimage. And she’s been invited into the private inner art sanctums of some of the world’s most avid current collectors. In 2011, she joined MoMA PS1 as Communications Director, where she oversees all communications for the museum. Before making the move across the country, she worked in the communications departments at The Getty and MOCA in Los Angeles. She’s also a regular contributor for the Huffington Post on all things arts. Like I said, she knows art.
And she doesn’t just work in it; she lives, travels, eats-sleeps-drinks, and surrounds herself with art. When we asked her for a photo for her Tastemaker profile, she sent 8 snaps of herself in front of, and interacting with, exhibits around the world. (The above is Rebecca at Versailles.) Big museums, small galleries, annual festivals, historic sites, and private collections entice her to jet-set around the world. And jet-set she does. Here she talks favorite museums and galleries, best apps for art-lovers, and where to brunch in NYC.
Follow Rebecca on Twitter for some up-to-the-minute tweets that very often include photos of awesome exhibits and landmarks. And art.
What are your favorite art shows worth traveling for (Art Basel, Biennale)?
I plan all my travel adventures around art—whether it’s to see a masterpiece on my "Must See Art List," a rare exhibition of Manet in Paris, a special commission for the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern, an Art Angel commission in a condemned flat in South London, or a biennale in some incredible city I’ve always wanted to visit. While I’d attend them all if I could, for me, the two must-see events/exhibitions on the art world calendar are the Venice Biennale (June, odd years) and Documenta (a quinquennial held in Kassel, Germany). Meandering through the majestic Giardini in Venice or traipsing the streets of Kassel to various abandoned buildings and train stations to discover a piece by Tino Sehgal or Janet Cardiff are amongst my greatest experiences. And, quite frankly, last year’s Documenta was one of the most incredible exhibitions I’ve ever seen.
What are your favorite museums or galleries in the world?
Museums are among the greatest places on the planet as far as I’m concerned, so my list is extensive. In fact, I love all museums on principal because of their essential role in the community—their ability to educate and engage, to challenge and inspire. But, here are the Cliff’s Notes:
Many of my favorite museums are architectural spaces that had former "iterations" as something else: MoMA PS1 was once a schoolhouse, the Tate Modern a former power station, dia: Beacon a retrofitted Nabisco factory, and the Temporary Contemporary at MOCA was a police car warehouse, while the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin) and the Musee d’Orsay (Paris) still bear witness to their previous lives as train stations.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the Victorian splendor of the V&A in London; the grand art deco building-turned-raw industrial warehouse of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris; and of course the collections of the Vatican Museum, MoMA, and the Met are unparalleled.
If you could tour any private collection, whose would it be? (And are tours available to the public?)
I have been really fortunate to visit some phenomenal private collections. Agnes Gund’s apartment in NY, Peter Brant’s in Connecticut, Eli Broad’s in LA, and the Zabludowicz’s London mansion come to mind. I would really love to see Roman Abramovich & Dasha Zhukova’s collection, and of course Francesca von Habsburgs. I’ve seen portions of Dakis Joannou’s collection in various exhibitions around the world, but I’d be keen to see more of it.
While none of those are open to the public, the Zabludowicz’s operate a terrific art space in London in a former Methodist Chapel built in the 1860s, which is open to the public. In Berlin, you can book tours of the Sammlung Boros, which is a WWII Bunker-turned Banana warehouse-turned S&M club-turned private museum that I highly recommend. In Paris, the Rosenblum Collection can be booked in advance for private tours, and it’s worth a visit, while in Miami the Rubells and the de la Cruzs always have a portion of their respective collections on public view and are fantastic.
For or Against: Taking photos in museums and galleries?
I’m definitely for it, but I fully understand why some museums can’t allow it. Copyright restrictions need to be adapted to modern technologies and behaviors.
Artsy hotels are de rigueur. Toronto’s Drake Hotel even keeps an artist-in-residence. Any hotels worth staying at for the collection alone?
The Groucho Club in London. Dine with Gavin Turk, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Jim Lambie, and other British Art stars, literally (as they’re all regulars) and figuratively (as their works adorn the walls).
Most memorable art pilgrimage?
There have been so many (I literally live for art pilgrimages)—Giotto’s Arena Chapel in Padua, Matisse’s Rosary Chapel in France, Dali’s home in Port Ligit—but the one that stands out above the rest is Spiral Jetty in Salt Lake City, Utah. I wrote a detailed account of the incredible journey for the Huffington Post (A Monument to Paradox and Transience). It was a life-changing experience.
Any great travel apps for art buffs?
My go-to app is artforum’s artguide, which offers exhibition and event listings for museums, galleries, biennials, and fairs in more than 500 cities. Its $2.99, but it can be hugely helpful. The more old-school (read: low-tech) route is to pick up a local "gallery guide" for free at the first gallery you walk into in any city. They usually put all the locations on a map, so they can be helpful even when they’re not in English. Not to mention, when your iPhone battery is dead.
What is always in your carry-on?
My iPhone charger (and the required adapter for wherever I’m traveling). I am always on my phone, checking email, tweeting, and mapping my next destination (and it’s even worse when I travel), so I keep my charger with me at all times and regularly "juice up" in museum lobbies or a local Starbucks (to simultaneously feed my iced green tea addiction).
What is next on your travel wish list?
Even though I’ve traveled extensively, I feel as though my list grows daily because I constantly hear about another fabulous, exotic place. In the next few years, I’d love to explore South America more (Rio, Sao Paolo, and Buenos Aires, especially) and also the United Arab Emirates (to Sharjah for their renowned Biennale and to Abu Dhabi once the Louvre and a few other museums are open); China as well. And there are many places I would love to return to, particularly Russia as Moscow seems to have changed dramatically every time I visit.
What are your favorite local NYC haunts?
NYC is an incredible place for art lovers—we have almost as many world-class museums as we have bodegas (well, close)—but also for foodies and fashionistas. Brunch is my favorite meal and there is no better city for brunch. Enormous and fluffy sour cream pancakes at Bubby’s, coconut-crusted French toast at Harry’s, the buttermilk biscuit sandwich at the Clinton Street Baking Company, and Norma’s Irish oatmeal brulee are among my favorites, especially when paired with a Bellini. As for shopping, I love Bergdorf‘s (as any NYC girl does), but I’m also partial to Bleecker Street (aka boutique alley) in Greenwich Village.
For happy hour, I love a view (and in the summer, a rooftop trumps all). My go-to spots are very "classic" New York: Top of the Standard and the Gansevoort in Meatpacking, The Highline in Chelsea, The Bowery Hotel in the East Village, XVI in Midtown, and the Met (their roof top garden is one of the most beautiful places in the city). Late night, I love some equally old-fashioned live-music—Jazz at the Cafe Carlyle never gets old and I’m still mourning the loss of Bill’s Gay Nineties (my favorite piano bar that recently shuttered—or occasionally some more spirited karaoke in Chinatown.