M Style - - Contents - Text: CAR­MEN RE­VIRIEGO. Pres­i­dent of Cal­lia.­li­

Get to know phi­lan­thropist Jorge Pérez, plus New York’s hottest gal­leries.

Jorge Pérez, a Cuban-Ar­gen­tine en­tre­pre­neur who lives in Mi­ami, is con­sid­ered one of the most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the U.S. ar t world. He’s the founder and pres­i­dent of the proper ty com­pany The Re­lated Group, and is the first Latino to have a U.S. mu­seum named after him: the Pérez Ar t Mu­seum Mi­ami (PAMM). We spoke to him about his be­gin­nings and his col­lec­tion.

Jorge Pérez is con­sid­ered one of the most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the North Amer­i­can art scene. In fact, that after he do­nated 40 mil­lion dol­lars and his col­lec­tion of mod­ern art to the Mi­ami Art Mu­seum, it adopted his name. For the first time in the coun­try’s his­tory, Latino power be­came linked to phi­lan­thropy and art.

We took ad­van­tage of Art Basel Mi­ami Beach, the city ’s pre­mier an­nual art show, to speak with one of the most prom­i­nent peo­ple on the scene. At one point dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion, his wife Dar­lene (who’s in­volved in ev­ery­thing) slipped away to ad­dress an is­sue with a pa­tient. A prac­tis­ing doc­tor, she has her own space in what was pre­vi­ously Jorge’s li­brary/study. In ad­di­tion to her day job, she plays a cen­tral role in run­ning the fam­ily foun­da­tion. Jorge Pérez has cre­ated a world where busi­ness, phi­lan­thropy, art, fam­ily and life come to­gether nat­u­rally. There’s a spe­cial bal­ance in this home’s at­mos­phere that al­lows you to in­tuit the vi­tal and far-reach­ing pas­sion it con­tains. Ac­tu­ally, it’s more than in­tu­ition; the ev­i­dence is right in front of me. I’m sur­rounded by fan­tas­tic pieces by artists in­clud­ing the likes of Alex Katz, Se­cundino Hernán­dez, Antony Gorm­ley, Cy Twombly, Damián Ortega and Kiki Smith. All of it seems to make sense here in Mi­ami, a city des­tined to be the cap­i­tal of Latin Amer­i­can art. This is what the Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami is aim­ing for, my host tells me. Not all mu­se­ums that are named after peo­ple be­long to the An­glo-Saxon world. The man who lends his name to this one, which is housed in a beau­ti­ful build­ing by Her­zog & De Meu­ron, chats from the chair be­side me, em­a­nat­ing a pal­pa­ble love for life.

What are your ori­gins?

I have ori­gins all over the world; I was born in Ar­gentina to Cuban par­ents, and I came here from Colom­bia. When I fin­ished my de­gree in the U.S., I de­cided to stay. I was ex­tremely sad about not re­turn­ing, be­cause I felt very Latin Amer­i­can. I ac­quired my first piece at univer­sity, when I was 20: a litho­graph by Marino Marini. I could only buy lithographs; it was the only thing they ’d give me. But once I knew I was stay­ing here, I de­cided to fo­cus on Latin Amer­i­can art... I needed that con­nec­tion. From the be­gin­ning, art be­came a way to avoid los­ing my iden­tity.

When did you de­cide to start build­ing a col­lec­tion? My com­pany had started to do well and I be­gan col­lect­ing my par­ents’ art. I call it that be­cause it con­sisted of the clas­sics I used to visit in mu­se­ums with my mother: Tor­res Gar­cía, Lam, Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Claudio Bravo, Botero, etc. I con­tin­ued col­lect­ing these artists un­til I de­cided to col­lab­o­rate with the Mi­ami Art Mu­seum, to which I do­nated 40 mil­lion dol­lars and my col­lec­tion. When did you pro­pose that the mu­seum take your name, a Latin Amer­i­can name?

Talk­ing to my fam­ily and friends about the do­na­tion, I re­alised that, even though Lati­nos have con­trib­uted so much to the de­vel­op­ment of the U.S., there aren’t any pub­lic build­ings named after us. There’s the Guggen­heim, Rock­e­feller, Tate, Phillips... so for me it was very im­por­tant that Pérez, per­haps the most Latino name there is, be as­so­ci­ated with pa­tron­age and phi­lan­thropy. I wanted peo­ple to see that Lati­nos have made money in the U.S. and that we want to give back by con­tribut­ing to the com­mu­nity.

Was it with ‘The Giv­ing Pledge’ that you first felt ‘The Luck of Giv­ing’, as I called it in my first book?

I don’t think it was the first time. I’ve al­ways been a giv­ing per­son, some­one very revolutionary. I was born in a so­ci­ety with a stark con­trast be­tween the rich and the poor, and have al­ways wanted to do some­thing about it. I’ve al­ways thought that peo­ple with a lot of money should have the moral obli­ga­tion to share it. I had that in mind when I started to build pub­lic hous­ing—first for the gov­ern­ment and later with my own com­pany¬—for se­nior cit­i­zens with nowhere to live. They called me Jor­gito, and the ones who are still alive con­tinue to call me that even though I’m 68 years old!

Of the var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties you spon­sor through your foun­da­tion, which cap­ti­vates you most?

They ask me that at the mu­seum, too. I al­ways say that it’s the pro­gramme we have with state schools, which al­lows chil­dren to go to the mu­seum for free and visit the cu­ra­tors. It’s mov­ing to see how their minds wake up and they start form­ing ques­tions they’ve never con­sid­ered be­fore. Art opens their imag­i­na­tions and turns them into cre­ators.

Imag­i­na­tion re­ally de­fines us as hu­mans.

It’s helped me a lot. In my busi­ness—and I think this is the part I like the most—imag­i­na­tion is what leads us to suc­cess. When I escape from the day-to-day and start to imag­ine the things I could do... I love what I do; I'm sur­rounded by art and ev­ery­one I know lives through art in one way or an­other. We in­volve art in ev­ery project we do, be­cause if I be­lieve that art has made me bet­ter, then it must have value for oth­ers too.

I've al­ways thought that art is enor­mously valu­able for en­trepreneurs. As it does for ev­ery­one, it gives them the op­por­tu­nity to grow as peo­ple—but it also al­lows them to have a kind of re­la­tion­ship that can be very dif­fi­cult to come by through their own busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties.

If you're only in­volved in your busi­ness and you talk about money all day and you just look at what you’re sell­ing, you’re stuck in a very nar­row world. For many en­trepreneurs, the ini­tial mo­ti­va­tion to get in­volved with art is to in­crease their so­cial sta­tus. But when they be­come en­gaged and start talk­ing with peo­ple who are part of this world, they ’re trans­formed. You see how they change. I see it in my part­ners, for ex­am­ple. I re­mem­ber a trip we took through Ital­ian vil­lages. Be­fore, they just wanted to go play golf. Now, they love to stay and see the churches and mu­se­ums. It’s some­thing that has to be learned. The more they know, the more they get hooked.

You're a trend­set­ting col­lec­tor. How do you or­gan­ise your col­lec­tions?

There are two dif­fer­ent col­lec­tions: the cor­po­rate col­lec­tion, ‘The Re­lated Group Art Col­lec­tion’, and my pri­vate col­lec­tion, the ‘Jorge Pérez Col­lec­tion’. The two col­lec­tions are han­dled very dif­fer­ently be­cause the pieces don’t have the same des­ti­na­tions. Those that we ac­quire for the cor­po­rate col­lec­tion go to the build­ings we con­struct. Each project is unique; the pieces are cu­rated and se­lected based on the theme of the build­ing, its aes­thetic, the peo­ple who will live there and, of course, the bud­get. When it comes to my pri­vate col­lec­tion, al­though I buy pieces for my homes and of­fices, each one is ul­ti­mately des­tined for the Pérez Mu­seum.

What kinds of artists do your col­lec­tions in­clude?

When I made my first do­na­tion to the mu­seum in 2012, my en­tire col­lec­tion was mod­ern art: Lam, Matta, Rivera, etc. Be­gin­ning i n 2013, I started to col­lect con­tem­po­rary art. As it’s a very per­sonal col­lec­tion, it mainly con­sists of artists who con­nect me with my Latin roots. It’s also very in­ter­na­tional, with artists from the United States, Ger­many, Spain... but also a high con­cen­tra­tion of artists from Cuba, Colom­bia, Ar­gentina and Mex­ico.

Be­ing a pa­tron is as­so­ci­ated with be­ing some­one who gives, but I think there’s also a lot you re­ceive.

The first thing you re­alise is that it’s best to give, be­cause it feels good. The sec­ond thing is that it helps you a lot. Peo­ple see your moral­ity, and it makes you grow in the eyes of other busi­ness­peo­ple that want to work with you. They see you as a se­ri­ous man. Through the mu­seum, I’ve made con­nec­tions that seemed im­pos­si­ble. It gives you ac­cess to things you could never have imag­ined. In my life, art and busi­ness are in­ter­twined. I’ll never again make a build­ing with­out art.

When you're gone, your build­ings and a mu­seum with your name will still stand. Latin Amer­i­can art has been very lucky, with peo­ple like Patty Phelps de Cis­neros.

She re­minds me a lit­tle of my mom. Patty is an in­tel­lec­tual, and her hus­band, who’s a close friend of mine, is a busi­ness­man who has grown thanks to her. She’s been the world’s best ad­vo­cate of Latin Amer­i­can art. She wanted to see the great­est Latin Amer­i­can artists shar­ing the walls of the world’s top mu­se­ums with Pi­casso and Kandin­sky... and she made it hap­pen.

Jorge and Dar­lene Pérez in the liv­ing room of their Mi­ami home. On the op­po­sitepage, the ‘Ve­loci­dad Brick­ell’ mu­ral lo­cated on the side of the SLS Lux build­ing, cre­ated by Ar­gen­tinian ar tistFabián Bur­gos.

The foyer of one of the Re­lated Group con­dos.

The fa­cade of one of the Re­latedGroup con­dos.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Spain

© PressReader. All rights reserved.