“The Hamptons culturally are a little flou,” said Peter Marino, the leather-clad architect known for designing art-filled retail environments for clients such as Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton, among others. “We’re showing third-rate photography exhibits and we have the most sophisticated and educated residents.”
Marino, a longtime Southampton, N.Y. denizen, was lamenting the state of artistic affairs in the tony summer enclave since the Parrish Museum, which had been the nucleus of cultural activity in the village, decamped to Water Mill.
Compounding the situation’s irony is the large number of serious art collectors and dealers with homes in the community: real estate honcho Aby Rosen and his wife Samantha; Apollo Management founder Leon Black and wife Deborah; gallerist William Acquavella, and film producer Katharina Otto-Bernstein and husband, gallerist Nathan Bernstein.
“Larry Gagosian lives in East Hampton,” Marino said of the mega-gallery-owner. “All of the Hamptons have big art collectors and dealers. Once the old Parrish moved out of town and got deadly serious, it left the village of Southampton at odds.”
So, when Simone Levinson, board co-chair of the Southampton Art Center — the successor to the Parrish — invited Marino to dinner with the express purpose of asking him to participate in an exhibition surrounding works from his extensive collection, he was inclined to agree. She needn’t have bothered flattering his 2014 show “One Way: Peter Marino” at the Miami’s Bass Museum of American Art, by the time coffee and dessert arrived, he was all-in.
Yet, he admitted his first thought was, “What happened, did somebody cancel? Two friends of mine, who are curators of museums, said, ‘Why would you lend the Southampton museum your art?’ The last time I checked, the Metropolitan wasn’t knocking at my door. I trimmed the show that I did for the Bass to a quarter of what it was in Miami.”
“Counterpoint: Selections from the Peter Marino Collection,” July 28 through Sept. 23, is organized into four thematic chambers designed on-site by Marino. Much has been made of the fact that the architect at the July 27 opening reception will make an announcement “concerning the cultural heritage of the village of Southampton.”
“It’s really big,” the architect said, without divulging anything. “I’m going to make a real commitment to the town of Southampton.”
The Gardens Gallery makes a connection to the community with a Jason Schmidt photograph of the lush gardens bursting with colorful hydrangeas, flower beds edged with miniature species and clipped boxwood hedges Marino designed for his home, along with a series of screens showing his local architectural projects, and nine bronze “Grand Moutons de Peter” by François-Xavier Lalanne, from his flock of gilded livestock, which wandered to the arts center. “The Lalanne sheep, the ones that [the artist] did for me, have the goofiest expressions on their faces,” he said, explaining their appeal. “They’re goofy and fun and charming and endearing…aren’t all of us derived from shepherds, anyway.”
Tom Sachs, Damien Hirst, Joel Morrison, Richard Prince and Andy Warhol are featured in the Pop Art Gallery, including a watercolor of flowers signed, “To Peter, Andy Warhol.” “The little museum doesn’t have very high insurance, so I put some of the watercolors Andy signed, “To Peter,” and some Tom Sachs works and Damien Hirst’s spot paintings.”
Marino’s sculpted bronze boxes, which last year were the subject of “Fire and Water,” at Gagosian’s Davies Street gallery in London, will share a room at the arts center with Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs. One of the biggest collectors of Mapplethorpe images — everything from flowers and still lifes to provocative nudes, Marino said of the latter, “They’ll be in the black Treasury Room, so I’ll stir people’s temperatures.
“We’re going to have a Modern German Art Gallery, four rooms with works by Anselm Kiefer and a heavy emphasis on Georg Baselitz, because it’s his 80th birthday and there’s a major show of his work at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.,” Marino said. “I loaned one of my Baselitzes to the Hirshhorn and two to the Haus der Kunst in Munich about a year ago.
“He’s a great draftsman,” Marino said of Baselitz. “He paints his own body in his paintings. I feel like humanity is at the center of his art. This is his year. I said this was going to be his year, and I’m loaning out six Baselitz works. I’ll usually take a [Mark] Rothko or a [Robert] Ryman over a figurative painter,” Marino said of the abstract impressionist and minimalist, respectively. “With Baselitz, they’re almost Cycladic or pre-civilizational.”
Most collectors don’t take their best artworks to the beach because “you have to be careful of humidity and conditions. Nobody wants a $1 million painting washed away by Hurricane Sandy,” said Marino, who nonetheless sees refinement and further enlightenment on the horizon over Cooper’s Beach.
“One or two evenings of high culture would enhance the experience [in Southampton,]” Marino said. “Small piano-fests are starting. We’re going to show the opera I produced with my wife [costume designer Jane Trapnell] on our 30th anniversary on closed-circuit TV in the art center’s auditorium. It’s a re-creation of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s ‘Orfeo ed Euridice.’ All the Southampton residents I mentioned have seen it at my home, and I don’t mind showing to a wider audience. It was shown at the Bass Museum. People came and spent a full hour with the opera. I was dumbfounded.”