In most contexts, being known as the “Slime Queen” would be less than flattering, but collector Karen Robinovitz wears the title as a badge of honour. With Sara Schiller she co-founded the Sloomoo Institute, a neon-hued and multi-sensorial art space that opened in 2019 in Manhattan’s Soho district, where visitors get to interact with all manner of bright, gooey and glistening slime.
And while she has devoted much of her energy in the years since to bringing the Sloomoo Institute’s ethos of tactility and play to wider audiences—there are now locations in Atlanta and Chicago, too—Robinovitz is also a very serious and busy collector. Her Brooklyn home is filled with works by women artists, from large paintings by Judith Linhares, Christina Quarles, Cristina BanBan, Hayv Kahraman, Emily Mae Smith and Ginny Casey, to irreverent sculptures by Katie Stout, Genesis Belanger and Kennedy Yanko. Here, she tells The Art Newspaper about her latest purchases, most prized possessions and more.
The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you bought?
Karen Robinovitz: Susan Graham’s wall sculpture of a gun, made of liquid porcelain through a pastry squeezer. It is really well executed but not my sensibility now.
What was your most recent purchase?
A lovely Yoora Lee painting from Half Gallery’s booth at Expo Chicago.
If your house was on fire, which work would you save?
That’s like asking me what child I like best! The Christina Quarles, Katherine Bernhardt and a mini Emily Mae Smith are closest to the door, so they’re easy to grab—but not easy to carry (well, the Emily is easy to carry).
If money were no object, what would be your dream purchase?
A large Cecily Brown.
Which work do you regret not buying when you have the chance?
This is a long list. An early Wangechi Mutu. A Yoshitomo Nara girl.
A Loie Hollowell painting when she first started.
What is the most surprising place you have displayed a work?
In the linen closet.
Which artists, dead or alive, would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yayoi Kusama, Hilma af Klint, Judy Chicago, Cindy Sherman and Mickalene Thomas.
What is the best collecting advice you’ve been given?
It is going to sound cliche but it’s true—only buy what you love and want to live with. Don’t get caught up in the market frenzy.
Have you bought an NFT?
No. I like the concept of NFTs for marketing and access but I also think it will be interesting to see how we look back at them in decades