In the stately and traditional neighborhood of Georgetown, in Washington DC, United States, the house of the art collector rises Daniel Levinas. If you look at it from the outside, it looks like a typical aristocratic abode in the historic district of the District of Columbia, famous for being the epicenter of embassies and for the campus of the university of the same name. But behind its exposed brick walls painted in pure white it hides one of the richest and most avant-garde private collections of contemporary art today, in which works by Latin American authors stand out.
Levinas has lived in Washington for 30 years, with his wife Mirella, born in the United States and daughter of a Chilean diplomat. When she was a girl she went to live in Argentina and there she met her husband. Daniel is a born entrepreneur and Argentine editor raised in a family of creatives. He is the brother of journalist Gabriel and other Levinas brothers, a true clan of talents.
Daniel served as a director ofl Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in the American capital and today he works for the Arlington Arts Center and the prestigious Art Basel Miami Beach fair, which in recent years has already become one of the most important artistic events in America and the world.
Located in Wisconsin Av. And R Street a temple to art is erected, his home. A tribute to avant-garde. But not everything was so easy, or so fast.
In order to remodel the house, Levinas, together with his brother Salo -Architect and partner of the Maryland-based studio Shinberg, Levinas & Bethesda- undertook a struggle that lasted more than a year to obtain the necessary permits from the Old Georgetown Board. At last the brothers achieved the impossible and undertook the arduous but longed-for task of renovating the “untouchable” house.
The residence in question It was built in 1830, renovated in 1957, and bought by the Levinas couple in 2002. And only in 2004, the long-awaited remodeling was carried out.
For a long time it was called “The Hope House “ for the connaisseurs of the place, because one of its owners was Evalyn Walsh McLean, a wealthy and eccentric heiress to the jet set washingtonian, and owner of the lavish Hope Diamond, a 45 carat diamond. This incredible gemstone later passed into the hands of jeweler Harry Winston, who donated it to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 1958.
Daniel Levinas, avid collector since the 70sAt the turn of the century, he began to search for a special abode that could house all his treasures, acquired together with his wife over decades. His initial idea was to find a loft or a spacious apartment, but the house on Wisconsin Avenue ended up conquering them.
The result of the remodeling of the mansion was simply incredible. The exterior, with white painted bricks and cobblestones at the entrance, is a kind of “trap”, in the sense that one does not expect to find what awaits behind its doors.
The residence occupies a total area of 1,200 square meters, divided into three floors linked by an impressive glass staircase that generates a light and amplification effect. There are no curved lines in this domain of right angles. The floors are made with an exquisite wood wenge, except for the living room, whose surface is made of a composite of marble, granite, glass and quartz, on which the pedestals and sculptures find a spectacular base according to the grandeur of its spirit.
The furniture, designed with the collaboration of Jeffrey thrasher, it is ultra-modern and functional: in the dining room there is a long transparent table made of Carlo Scarpa, with chairs Mies van der Rohe.
On cool summer days, just open the large windows facing the outside for a harmonious interconnection between interior and nature. Three completely different gardens stand within the boundaries of this property: a lush plant paradise, with a metallic sculpture by León Ferrari as the epicenter; one covered in white stone, with a bronze statue that buries his head, as if wanting to escape the world into another dimension, and the last with a spectacular pool.
It is that the home of the Levinas is a perfect mix of home life and private gallery; a kind of MALBA, but with a warmth that –after the initial impact produced by the vast and well-curated collection with which one has the pleasure of sharing space- comforts, and makes the guest or visitor come to this temple of art staff feel comfortable and at ease.
Not for nothing has this house been the host of countless local political figures, such as Martín Lousteau and Héctor Timerman, in their role as ambassadors, and the epicenter of the meeting of the jet set of American power. Tony lake –Current executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and advisor to various presidents of the United States from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama before he was elected as president – he dazzled within its walls. Even when it was the inauguration of Obama’s second term, Levinas was asked to use his home as the setting for several parties. In the end this did not happen, but the residence continues to constantly receive the lineage of high society and politics.
The interior design was specially thought to display all the works of art that make up the collection of the Levinas couple.. The white walls, the wide spaces and the attentive and careful lighting highlight each of the pieces that are exhibited to the maximum. It’s a great staging. Salo, Daniel, Mirella and decorator Jeffrey Thrasher achieved a sophisticated result. The most prominent artists of the new wave Latin American like Nazareth Pacheco, Javier Arce and Waltércio Caldas coexist with Leon Ferrari, Rogelio Polesello –one of the first artists that Levinas added to his collection-, Anish Kapoor and Tunga.
Hundreds of paintings, sculptures, photographs and videos made this their home. And the warmth of this avant-garde gallery-residence is also achieved by the Levinas’ sense of art. They love to be surrounded by beautiful objects that make them feel good, so the works on display reflect a harmony and joy that is not present in another large private collection. Here you will not find violent or aggressive pieces, but passion overflows every corner with equal power and force.
The artistic exploration of these collectors is impressive, and they find pieces that are passed on to most. its art hunting It takes them to all corners of the planet, from New York, Venice, Berlin and Madrid, to Mexico City, Slovenia and, obviously, Buenos Aires. Works by Vik Muniz, Cildo Meireles, Andy Warhol, Matthew Barney, Olafur Eliasson and Liliana Porter Thus they became part of his treasure, and one of the most impressive private collections in the world.