Suzanne Deal Booth
Austin, Texas; Rutherford, California
If you’ve seen James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace (2012) at Rice University in Houston, you have Suzanne Deal Booth to thank. The philanthropist, arts adviser, and collector funded the permanent installation of Skyspace at the university; she has also worked with the artist to stage other pieces from his famed series of light installations at the Whitney Museum and MoMA PS1.
During her time as a student at Rice and New York University, Deal Booth learned the ropes of collecting from the famed Houston collector Dominique de Menil, who was the subject of an acclaimed 2018 biography. Deal Booth originally hails from Texas, and has returned to her home state many times to work with institutions such as Ballroom Marfa in southwest Texas and The Contemporary in Austin.
Deal Booth’s philanthropy made waves when, in 2016, she established a $100,000 biennial artist prize that came with an exhibition at The Contemporary. The first recipient was Rodney McMillian in 2018. A months later in 2018, she joined forced with fellow “Top 200” collectors Amanda and Glenn R. Fuhrman to further bolster the prize, renamed the Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation, which now comes with an unrestricted cash prize of $200,000 and other amenities including a catalogue and solo exhibition that puts its total value at $800,000.
Deal Booth’s collection now numbers over 350 artworks. In 2019, she finished installing one of its cornerstones: Yayoi Kusama’s glimmering mirror-polished stainless steel cube, Where the Lights in My Heart Go, (2016), near the vineyards of her family home in Napa Valley, California. She had to do quite a bit of landscaping to ensure that the piece would perfectly reflect its bucolic setting. “I have always been intrigued by Borromini’s forced perspective at Palazzo Spada in Rome,” Deal Booth told ARTnews. “I decided to create a forced perspective using a raised lawn and an avenue of trees. The work is a perfect reflection of beauty. Venturing inside the cube, one feels the power of Kusama’s attribution ‘Where the Lights in My Heart Go.’ ”