At Large  February 26, 2024  Rebecca Schiffman

Rosa de la Cruz, Star of the Miami Art Scene, Dies at 81

de la Cruz Collection

Rosa de la Cruz during a screening of an Ana Mendieta documentary at the de la Cruz Collection, September 27, 2019.

Major Miami art collector and patron, Rosa de la Cruz, died peacefully on Sunday in her home after battling an autoimmune disorder, according to the Miami Herald. She was 81 years old. Along with her husband Carlos, Rosa founded one of the first art galleries in Miami in 2001, turning the city into a major hub for contemporary art and culture.

Rosa and Carlos De la Cruz began collecting in the late 1980s, amassing a collection of modern art as well as work by some of the buzziest contemporary artists including Christopher Wool, Mark Bradford, Ana Mendieta, Félix González-Torres, Sterling Ruby, Peter Doig, and Jim Hodges, among many others.

Via Youtube

Gabriel Orozco, Ping Pond Table, 1998. At the de la Cruz Collection.

In 2001, the couple took their collection public, opening the nonprofit Moore Space in the Miami Design District. With Moore Space, the idea was to produce an exhibition space for artists in the city during the first Art Basel Miami Beach, which launched in December 2002. The show was wildly successful and the couple, along with real estate developer and fellow collector Craig Robins, continued their programming the following year. Over the years, de la Cruz put together public programming events to involve the community and began an artist residency program. 

In 2009, a year after the Moore Space closed, Rosa and Carlos opened their long awaited museum—the de la Cruz Collection. The museum is a 30,000-square-foot space designed by John Marquette that houses their massive art collection, which comprises over 1,000 works. The space has since become a must-see stop on every fair-goer's itinerary during Miami Art Week in December.

“It’s hard to overestimate the influence and significance of Rosa, with her husband Carlos, on the arts in Miami and especially collecting," Franklin Sirmans, the renowned director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, told artnet News. “She played a role at most of Miami’s art institutions, including our own.”

De la Cruz did more than collect artwork and participate on museum boards. She, along with her husband, regularly spent their time working on philanthropic projects, oftentimes focusing on educational programs. The couple worked with the School of Visual Arts to help students afford summer classes, they sponsored international travel for students, and hosted workshops for students to engage with local artists. 

Rosa de la Cruz is survived by her husband, their five children, and their grand- and great-grandchildren. 

Image of Gabriel Orozco's Ping Pond Table, 1998, is from a still from Youtube of an interview with Rosa de la Cruz.

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