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by marina cashdan
photography by eric striffler | November 23, 2011 | Culture
Ron carefully adjusts one of the lucite cubes in Teresita Fernández’s 8:05 AM. In the background is a Raymond Pettibon wave painting on paper
Perfect Vehicles, by Allan McCollom. In the background hangs a work by Prudencio Irazabal
A photo-based work by Kerstin Brätsch
A light fixture hangs in front of a work by Liam Gillick
This light fixture hangs above the foyer, and behind it is a woven mylar work by Oliver Herring.
The living room, with a monumental painting by Melvin Martinez, an artist the couple discovered while visiting Puerto Rico. Also in view is a portrait of Liz Taylor by Vik Muniz
|The Rosenzweigs in their foyer. Behind the couple is a work by Tauba Auerbach, titled Shattered Glass|
|The couple’s Water Mill home|
The Water Mill home of Ron and Leslie Rosenzweig is set inland, overlooking Mill Pond and a peaceful wetland. Its exterior exudes a minimal Asian aesthetic: raw cedar wood that glistens silver in the sunlight. “We told the architects two words: Asian contemporary,” says Ron—and the architects, Greifenstein-Boyce Associates, hit the nail on the head. It is unassuming but elegant, contemporary but timeless.
The interior, however, is where the outer Zen gives way to the couple’s inner wild child. While tasteful decorative details are strikingly unique—including Bakelite light fixtures and ceiling fans that could be considered fine-art sculptures—it is the couple’s stunning collection of modern and contemporary art that steals the spotlight. The Rosenzweigs, who spend the winter in Boca Raton, Florida, are regulars at Art Basel Miami Beach, an annual contemporary art fair held in December.
“I always say that I’m just going to look and I’m not going to buy anything, and then I come out and I’ve bought six or eight pieces that have caught my eye,” Leslie admits with a half-guilty, half-smitten smile. “I love the buzz—going early, seeing everyone. When you go to the preview, you’re with people who are passionate about art. And of course, it’s the 10th edition this year, so I’m expecting that they’ll do some fun things.
“We’ve been acquiring so much art over the years that we almost never think of a spot where it will fit,” quips Ron. “We’ll find room.” Artworks, like a Mike Bidlo “Not Pollock” painting (circa 1982), a large-scale painting by young talent Angel Otero, and a Sol LeWitt painting on paper comprising hundreds of colorful wavy lines, dot the walls; occupy windows, like Kirsten Hassenfeld’s delicate and site-specific paper sculpture, installed in a large, street-facing picture window; rest on tabletops—an Allan McCollum installation, Perfect Vehicles, of identical monochrome vases; or take over the floors, as is the case with Do Ho Suh’s witty “welcome” mat that reads AWAY.
The Building of an Art Collection
The couple has always possessed an artistic bent. Ron dabbled in art before going to engineering school, while Leslie followed her political science degree from Berkeley with one in interior design, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that they really caught the collecting fever. “We had been buying art but not with a focus—some African and Native American pieces, some Color Field works; it was a mixture. But then when we got involved with the New Museum, we began collecting work by young, emerging contemporary artists,” explains Ron, who, together with his wife, has been actively involved with the museum, in Manhattan, since its inception at the New School in 1977 (he has also been a trustee for the past 10 years). It has since become one of the leading contemporary art museums in the world.
The home’s second floor houses much of the Rosenzweigs’ photography collection, including the triptych “Food,” “Clothing,” “Shelter” by Laurie Simmons (RIGHT)
Since that start, the Rosenzweigs have amassed an impressive collection of emerging contemporary artists who count themselves among the most successful talents of their generation. “The New Museum started a special collectors group where, once a month, we’d go to an artist’s studio,” he recalls. “One of the first studios we went to was that of Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, when they were still in Chinatown. People were buying drawings right out of the studio. Of course, we didn’t know then that Keith Haring would become Keith Haring.” Such was their introduction to Haring, as well as Cindy Sherman, Raymond Pettibon, Mark Bradford, Roxy Paine, Vik Muniz, Tauba Auerbach, and East Ender Michelle Stuart, among others.
One of the many traits the Rosenzweigs have imbued in their two grown children is this aesthetic sensibility, a quality that their daughter, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe (Berman née Rosenzweig), has spun into a wildly successful career: Her highly sought style earned her a television series, The Rachel Zoe Project, as well as many celebrity clients. “Rachel had a lot of visual stimulation and a lot of exposure to art because we were always going to museums and galleries and taking our children on art trips,” says Leslie of her daughter, who has also begun collecting fashion-related art.
Appropriately, a visit to the Rosenzweigs’ home is like a walk through a contemporary art museum, but in lieu of museum guards, you get a cup of coffee and a plush couch from which to sit and admire. Statement pieces include a monumental multicolored impasto painting that takes over an entire wall of the double-height living room, a work by painter Melvin Martinez, whom the couple discovered while on an “art trip” to Puerto Rico; a contemplative work by Teresita Fernández composed of tiny acrylic cubes in varying shades of translucent yellow that are precisely placed along one of the walls in the Rosenzweigs’ dining area; and a pair of Vik Muniz portraits—one of a seductive Liz Taylor and, across the room, a reproduction of Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph, the two ladies speaking to one another in the sprawling, light-filled living room.
Two stunning oak and cowhide chairs by artist Richard Artschwager accent the subtle colors of the walls and furniture. Throughout the house, there are also works by notable art photographers, including Sherman, Candida Höfer, Gregory Crewdson, and Rosemary Laing. “I love for the interiors to have a conversation with the art,” says Leslie. “It’s really important that they speak to each other and that they each take on their own identity.”