Collector’s Eye: Cricket Taplin

Art lovers tell us what they’ve bought and why

Courtesy of CT Collection

Courtesy of CT Collection

Cricket Taplin has been a prominent figure in the Miami art scene since she and her late husband Martin Taplin began collecting in the late 1980s. For nearly a decade the Taplins and their close friend Martin Margulies co-owned the Margulies Taplin Gallery. In 1997, after the gallery closed, the Taplins bought and began to renovate the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach, Florida. The Sagamore was dubbed by the media “the art hotel” shortly after its 2001 reopening, and allowed Taplin to share her passion for collecting with the public. Stairwells, hallways and public spaces, including the hotel’s marble-floored lobby, were lined with works chosen by Taplin from her private collection.

The Taplins added a unique element when Art Basel came to Miami Beach. Every year they famously held a brunch at their hotel during art week, a coveted invitation that helped bring emerging artists, including Jen Stark, Carlos Betancourt and Robert Chambers, to the attention of the international art world. Olafur Eliasson, Roxy Paine, Will Ryman and Maria Martinez-Cañas are among the artists in her collection, all of whom have either exhibited at the Sagamore or participated in the annual artist talks and interviews that Cricket hosted. Her art collecting extends past the walls of the Sagamore and into the public sphere. Cricket has earned Board positions with the Bass Museum, Arts for Learning, Locust Projects and is an honorary board member at the Museum of Contemporary Arts, North Miami.

The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you bought?

Cricket Taplin: James Valerio, Nature Study (1988). The moment I saw this painting I felt that I could walk right into it. My intuition invited me in. It was a spontaneous decision, and I went with it. When it was installed in my home, I knew it was the right selection, and I have been collecting art the same way ever since.

What was your most recent buy?

Tomás Esson, Talisman (bronze edition 1 of 6). Because of my interest in spirituality, I was immediately drawn to this particular sculpture. A talisman is any object ascribed with religious or magical powers intended to protect, heal or harm individuals for whom they are made. Talismans are often portable objects carried on someone in a variety of ways but can also be installed permanently in architecture. I knew instinctively this sculpture spoke to me and would be a perfect addition to my collection.

If your house was on fire, which work would you save?

After my family… the one I can carry out.

If money were no object, what would be your dream purchase?

I would love to own any work by Isamu Noguchi. I love his interplay of sensuality and organic movement in his sculpture. It is quite erotic. I also love Alberto Giacometti’s human figures because, although the figures look delicate and at times are missing limbs, they remain strong. Additionally, Ugo Rondinone’s Moonrise Sculpture series [2005-06], for its playfulness and the use of materials. I think they are fun.

Taplin invited Olaf Breuning to make Sand Sphinx from 150 tons of sand for Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2008 Photo: Erica Berenstein/AFP via Getty Images

What is the most surprising place you have displayed a work?

In the sand behind the Sagamore Hotel in Miami. In 2007 we invited Spencer Tunick for one of his well-known nude photo shoots. He photographed 800 naked volunteers in the pool, the beach and the balconies of the hotel. In 2008 Olaf Breuning created his Sand Sphinx, an abstracted 150-ton sphinx-like sand sculpture of a reclining woman. We also featured Will Ryman and his Rose on 65th Street installation in 2011.

Which artists, dead or alive, would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Isaac Julien, Marcel Duchamp and Roy Lichtenstein.

If they all came over for dinner I think I could convince them to give me a discount [laughs]—okay, not really. But the interchange of ideas with these disparate artists, all of whom intrinsically push the boundaries of what art can be, would make for a very entertaining evening.

What is the best collecting advice you have been given?

Buy what you love.

What have you missed most during lockdown?

Socialising with my friends and the freedom to go anywhere and do anything I want.

Have you bought an NFT?

No! Early days. I don’t know enough about them to make a decision yet.