There are lots of sharp edges in “One Way: Peter Marino,” the exhibition opening Thursday at the Bass Museum of Art and coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach. Marino, who is as well known for his black leather biker outfits as he is for the posh environments he creates for clients, reveals in the show his voracity as a collector and his fascination with knives, surgical instruments and hard objects made from brass, copper, plated nickel, gold and stainless steel.
The week holds another tribute to Marino, since on Wednesday Design Miami will bestow him with its inaugural Visionary Award.
Curated by Jerome Sans, “One Way: Peter Marino” features 136 works from his personal collection, architectural projects that were never completed — and many that were — his own bronze boxes and commissioned works. The show closes on May 3.
The architect, who purchases five to 10 works a month for himself and on behalf of his clients, buys deep; he says he likes to own seven or eight works by an artist. On Sundays, he visits museums and galleries, hunting for new talent. “It’s kind of sweet and old-fashioned,” he says of his routine. “I fly to see exhibits in London, Paris, Berlin, Munich and Rome. I loan a lot of art now and I like to see it in the shows.” Marino’s collection of Baroque and Renaissance bronze sculptures is renowned, and he’s the largest private collector of Claude and François-Xavier LaLanne sculptures.
“As I’ve become more successful, my collection has gotten quantitatively larger,” Marino says. “I now buy massive amounts of art. People ask, ‘Are you ever going to run out of money?’ It’s not my intention to run out of money in the bank. I want to live with art.”
That he does. In addition to his home, Marino’s art is generously displayed in his offices in New York. “The art is everywhere,” he says, “squished between my sketches and in between are my leather vests.”
Visitors to the Bass will see works by artists such as Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Damien Hirst, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vik Muniz and Yan Pei-Ming. Marino’s own bronze boxes will be presented within leather-clad walls with photographs by Mapplethorpe hanging above. “I call this the inner me,” Marino says. The word “egotist” may come to mind upon entering a room devoted to portraits and photographs of Marino by other artists such as Francesco Clemente and David LaChapelle.
Marino says he balked at the idea of the exhibition at first. “‘[You’re] the most art-involved architect we know,” he recalls Bass executive director and chief curator Silvia Karman Cubiñá saying. “In every job, you commission art and work with artists.’” She then asked Marino if several of his artist pals could do site-specific works for the exhibition — gratis.
“When I commission something for Chanel, um, Chanel pays for it, and when I commission something for Dior, um, Dior pays for it,” he says. “Silvia being the original Dr. Pangloss, said, ‘I’m sure they’ll all be thrilled to work with you.’ ‘For free?’ I said. ‘That’s calling in a lot of favors, Silvia.’”
Marino didn’t have to twist many arms — Gregor Hildebrandt, Guy Limone, Farhad Moshiri, Jean-Michel Othoniel and Erwin Wurm participated. “They’re rock stars,” he says. “The show was a massive amount of work. I had four architects working on the project for over a year and it involved the diplomacy of getting five people to do commissioned works for free.”
A commissioned Hildebrandt work with an image of Marino wraps the museum’s exterior. By now, it should be obvious that Marino is an exhibitionist. An image of him is splayed on the cover of the exhibition catalogue, whose pages are held together by strips of leather battened down with screws. Meanwhile, inside, Hildebrandt created “Orphische Schatten” (“Orphic Shadows”), inspired by “Orfeo ed Euridice,” the Christoph Willibald Gluck opera Marino produced and staged in his Manhattan apartment last year. “When Gregor heard that, he took hundreds of videotape strips from copies of the classic Jean Cocteau film ‘Orpheus,’ which is my favorite, and lined the museum walls with them,” Marino says.
Marino’s lavish re-creation of “Orfeo ed Euridice” is projected on to four screens in the opera room, highlighting his sets — black leather represents Hades and a woven mesh curtain blasted with light symoblizes heaven — as well as those by Michal Rovner and Clemente. Raf Simons designed dresses for the opera singers and Jane Trapnell, Marino’s wife, created costumes for the corps de ballet and chorus.
Limone used 2,200 images from Marino’s archives to create “this gi-normous collage of all of my work on an arch.” Through the arch, Warhol’s “Human Heart” is visible. “That’s where I began,” Marino says, referring to the artist, who was an early mentor.
Moshiri, who creates installations by throwing knives at gallery walls, spelled out “Paradise” for the Bass exhibition. Othoniel contributed a giant rosary made of glass beads. Marino’s fascination with skulls commands its own section in the show, including pigment prints by Adam Fuss, a bronze and enamel skull by Tom Sachs and Zhang Huan’s “Skull No. 29,” culminating in Wurm’s portrait of Marino 100 years from now. “He took an X-ray of my skeleton and made a sculpture of it,” the architect says. The skeletal Marino, is wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket and hat — natch.