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Julia Reyes Taubman (1967–2018)

Photographer Julia “Julie” Reyes Taubman, the founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, died on Sunday, January 28, at her home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Louis Aguilar reports in the Detroit News. She was fifty years old. A longtime supporter of the arts, Taubman also served on the board of governors of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and was a former board member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

“Her gifts to our community and to MOCAD in the form of her astute guidance, generous philanthropy, and her exceptional art collection will live on forever,” executive director Elysia Borowy-Reeder said in a statement. “Her generosity and energy founded MOCAD (in 2006) and has forever transformed this museum and our community. Our most heartfelt condolences go out to her family and loved ones.”

In 2011, Taubman published Detroit: 138 Square Miles, a collection of photographs documenting almost every street in the city. “I’m no artist,” Taubman told Jason Sheftell of the New York Daily News in 2012. Commenting on Detroit’s buildings, she said, “All I know is that these are monuments to a city that changed the world. Nothing on a scale like this exists but right here.” With her lens, Taubman captured more than thirty-five thousand images of buildings ranging from modernist townhouses by Mies van der Rohe to abandoned steel and auto factories. After Sheftell interviewed Taubman about her work, he noted that she conveyed “a brutal honesty as striking as the heart and soul in her book.”

Taubman was born in Washington, DC, in 1967. Her family owned the Chicago-based food and beverage company Reyes Holdings LLC, one of the largest private companies in America. Its operations include the largest beer distributor in the country and it is also one of the largest suppliers of the fast-food chain McDonald’s. In 1999, she married Robert Taubman, the chairman of Taubman Centers Inc. She is survived by her husband and her children, Ghislaine, Sebastian, Alexander, and Theodore. “I and our children were blessed to have her in our lives,“ Robert Taubman said in a statement. “Julie’s extraordinary strength, free spirit, deep love for her family, and her memory will forever be a comfort and inspiration for us all.”