Art Advisor Rachel Cole Shines on Miami
Updated: May 3
Miami Living met with art advisor Rachel Cole ahead of the Aglaé Bassens “Emptiful” exhibition at the ICA Miami Museum, opening May 5th. The ICA Miami is presenting “Emptiful,” a debut solo museum presentation for Brooklyn–based painter Aglaé Bassens. With a practice deeply rooted in observation and critical analysis, Bassens creates wistful, meditative glimpses into everyday life. Alluring and poignant, Bassens’s enigmatic works often explore issues of spatial tension, materiality, and intimacy.
With funding provided by Rachel Cole Art Advisory, the ICA Miami acquired one of the artist’s major works, Remote (2021), for its permanent collection in 2022. 1. Tell us about your background - when and why did you start Rachel Cole Art Advisory?
My interest in art as a career was initially sparked through my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. When I graduated and began working in the art world, I gained experience in different institutional settings but within a relatively short period of time I realized that I was meant to be art advising, and I eventually founded Rachel Cole Art Advisory in 2019. I love working at the nexus of artists and collectors; it’s a constant process of learning and discovery.
I also very much enjoy working for myself and being in control of the quality of my services, so that I can be confident that I’m always offering the best.
2. What was your first memory of art?
Art has always been a part of my life in a way that was woven into my childhood very organically. I don’t have a specific first memory of art, but my mother was a fashion designer and my father was a musician, and I always took painting classes from a young age. I do have vivid memories of the eclectic art that my parents had in our home, and I think all of this informs the way I look at art today.
3. Who is your favorite artist and do you have a favorite movement?
My favorite artists from history are Édouard Manet and Gustave Courbet, but my favorite movement is Neoclassicism. In general, I love the way artwork makes connections throughout time, and now when I look at contemporary art, I am particularly attuned to work that draws lines between past and present.
Jiab Prachakul, 5 a.m. for Berlin, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Museum purchase with funds provided by Rahul M. Sabhnani.
4. You have devoted your life to promoting minority and historically underrepresented artists. What was the impetus for this?
My own experience in the art world as a young, Mexican-American woman has played a large role in influencing the work I do today. I think we all need to be able to look around and find ourselves reflected back at us somewhere in the array of artwork that is being collected and exhibited. This also means committing myself not just to minority and historically underrepresented artists, but also to minority and historically underrepresented collectors. Beyond that, art is so much about seeing and noticing, and if we don’t look in the corners or at the margins, we are ultimately missing out on so much, and are not actually doing the critical work of seeing and noticing.
5. How did you become involved with the ICA Miami?
I initially became involved with the ICA Miami through a donation of an artwork by artist Jiab Prachakul (represented by Micki Meng), funded by my wonderful collector, Rahul Sabhnani. Jiab’s gallerist, Micki, first introduced me to Alex Gartenfeld, the Artistic Director of the ICA Miami, and I have since worked on numerous donations with him.
Alex and I check in with each other quite often, and I am continually impressed by the innovative work he is doing and the incredible impact he continues to have on the art world and Miami in particular.
Asif Hoque, Music of the Sun, 2022. Oil on Linen. Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Museum purchase with funds provided by Rahul M. Sabhnani, Jeffrey Magid, and Ryan Lee. © Asif Hoque, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York. Photo by Sh.
6. Tell us about the upcoming Aglae Bassens “Emptiful” exhibition and the artists you have placed in the museum.
The Aglae Bassens “Emptiful” exhibition at the ICA Miami, which opens on May 5 and will be on view through October 29, is the first solo museum exhibition of work by Bassens, a Brooklyn-based painter. I have loved her work for years and first placed it in collections when large-scale canvases were only a few thousand dollars, and before she was receiving the incredible recognition that she so deservedly receives now.
My husband and I, along with another collector of mine, Ryan Lee, donated the work featured in the show. It’s very rewarding to see an artist take off like that, and to have had the privilege of knowing her work since early in her career. Other artists I have helped placed in the ICA Miami’s collection include Kenturah Davis, Asif Hoque, Jarvis Joyland, Jeanette Mundt, and we’re working on a few others, almost all of which were due to the generosity of my collectors, specifically Rahul Sabhnani, Ryan Lee, and more.
7. How is the Miami art market/world unique/different from NY where you are based?
The two are quite different, with the key difference being that while Miami has a vibrant art world throughout the year, the week of the annual Art Basel Miami art fair in December is really the epicenter of it all. People from all over the world converge to look at and purchase art and attend events. New York, on the other hand, has a steady flow of art fairs and exhibitions throughout the year, so the ebbs and flows are not as dramatic in New York as in Miami.
8. What services does your firm offer?
RCAA provides services that cover every aspect of the art-buying process, from acquisitions to post-sale services, collection management, market research, and curatorial services. There are many steps involved in building and managing a collection, and my job is to oversee and execute all of them.
9. Who are your clients and do you have a dream client?
My clients are all art collectors who work with me because they are committed to building and maintaining a meaningful art collection. As mentioned a little earlier, my dream clients are minority individuals (women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+). Particularly, I would love public figures who have enough of a platform to showcase their art on a large scale and inspire others to become more involved in art, whether that is as a collector, maker, or supporter.
Jeanette Mundt, Winning, 2021. Oil on linen. Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Museum purchase with funds provided by Rahul M. Sabhnani. Image courtesy the artist and Société, Berlin. Photo by Trevor Good
10. Favorite places in Miami for art and design? Most inspiring and why?
Without a doubt, the ICA Miami is my favorite place and is always my first stop when I am in Miami. But there are so many other incredible museums as well, like Pérez Art Museum and The Rubell Museum, to name two. I love the Design District for its galleries, fashion, and public art. Also, the collections like Rubell, Pérez, De la Cruz, Margulies, and more, who generously open their collections to the world. That said, most of my visits to Miami center around the Miami Basel fair week, so I tend to be quite busy when I am there. However, I aim to be in Miami more often to visit the many gems I have yet to see, like Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. There is so much there to be inspired by!
11. What’s coming up for Rachael Cole Art Advisory?
I actually have two businesses that complement one another: Rachel Cole Art Advisory is well-established and is continuing to grow, and my new business, romulus, is launching soon. romulus is an art-tech platform that is designed to solve some of the current logistical barriers in the art world. The platform also provides a basic art world education, and connects new and established art world patrons. As an advisor, I work very closely with individuals who are committed to building an expansive collection that grows over time. With romulus, I am able to serve collectors at every stage, whether they are buying their first piece or looking to support an established collection.
Connect with Rachel Cole