Peter Marino Art Foundation
Inside Chanel’s 57th Street outpost in New York, a menacing tower of steel and windows, hangs a shimmering chain of glass orbs by the French sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel, commissioned by the building’s architect and designer Peter Marino to reference the Parisian atelier’s iconic pearl necklaces. Such site-specific works often feature prominently within the boutiques Marino designs for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Bulgari, and Zegna, a trait that might be considered a natural outgrowth of his passion for accumulating artwork, which began in the ’70s. It was 1978 when Andy Warhol gave the then-29-year-old designer a series of seven india ink and watercolor paintings from his flower series in exchange for the renovation of his Upper East Side townhouse.
This gift set in motion over four decades of collecting, the spoils of which are waiting to be discovered at the newly established Peter Marino Art Foundation in Southampton, New York, the hydrangea-filled town where the architect lives part-time, and which quietly opened to the public earlier this summer. The landmarked Victorian Gothic-style building opened as the Rogers Memorial Library in the late 1800s before turning hands a number of times over the years, once housing the Parrish Art Museum and, prior to Marino’s acquisition in 2018, a One Kings Lane. While the exteriors retain their red-brick façade, the interiors have been almost completely transformed to Marino’s delightfully garish tastes. The building’s formal entrance, for example, is walled with a green Venetian plaster, which gives it a decadent marble-like texture and lustrous sheen. One room to the right, a turret is accented with gold embossed leather; a technique historically used for insulation, here it creates a brilliant backdrop for an assortment of Baroque bronzes, Claude Lalanne benches, and glittering blue porcelain by Théodore Deck.
Entering the space for a tour led by Marino’s niece, visitors are greeted by an ancient Roman tragedy relief that sits atop a contemporary bronze box designed by Marino. There is a harmony of old and new among the 200-plus pieces of art and design displayed: Nearby, a pair of exquisitely preserved Egyptian alabaster bowls sit opposite a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting completed in 1981, the year Marino was introduced to the artist by Andy Warhol. Many of the designer’s friends and collaborators are celebrated—in Warhol’s case, two paintings of Alexander the Great face each other in contrasting red or black color schemes—but more often, exploring the two-story structure feels like a glimpse into the mind of Marino himself. There are numerous portraits of the infamously leather-clad, motorcycle-riding designer, perhaps none more telling than an assemblage by the British provocateur Damien Hirst stationed in a gallery of monochromatic works. Suspended behind a glass case are rows of gas masks and an assortment of sex toys; the work is titled “The Dark Architect.” —Coco Romack
Francesco Clemente. © Peter Marino Architect. Photo by Manolo Yllera.