Peter Marino Previews His Bass Museum Show

A Marino portrait by Damien Hirst. COURTESY THE BASS MUSEUM

A Marino portrait by Damien Hirst.


The board room at Peter Marino’s office, with its meticulous pale wood and long-necked microphone at each desk, resembles slightly the board room of SPECTRE, not in small part because its owner never dresses in anything but a skull-heavy leather daddy ensemble (which, if it isn’t “Bond villain” exactly, doesn’t scream “Bond good guy” either), but did even more so on Wednesday, when curator Jérôme Sans Skyped in against one of its walls to tell the (natty, but unlike SPECTRE agents, harmless) journalists sitting around the board table about his upcoming show of Peter Marino’s architecture and art collection at the Bass Museum in Miami, “One Way,” which opens December 4.

But first Marino took point, gesturing to the apples in the center of the table with a fingerless glove an assistant had helped him into outside just before the meeting, telling everyone that they are “not for decoration, they’re from my farm and you should eat them.” He then introduced the catalogue, which served as the basis for this virtual walkthrough of the show and was bound in leather “just in case you didn’t know who the show was about.”

For the show the building itself will be wrapped in a giant photo of Marino, by Gregor Hildebrandt, in the shower, fully clothed in his leather, with a crotch bulge that like the rest of the outfit is somehow not lewd. “[Bass Executive Director and Chief Curator] Silvia [Karman Cubiñá] is not going to be thrilled with my saying this but my first thought for the show was, ‘Well, how can I cover the outside of the building because I’m not so crazy about how it works,'” he said (Ms. Cubiñá, standing next to him, indicated no hurt feelings).

“I’m a Leo, I rule the heart,” he said soon after, describing the first work one will see after walking into the museum, a an Andy Warhol. “So was Andy, so he gave that to me, for working for him.”

The show will also display his impressive collection, from the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe and Anslem Kiefer.

As he turned pages and went through the exhibition, Marino tended to ask questions of himself, upticking and pausing as though he expected answers from the journalists or museum honchos around the room

“And what color is the first room, children? Black, of course, you know this.”

“What’s the commission in that room? It’s a young Iranian artist, does things with knives. It’s quite cool. I’ve got a… knife… thing.”

“This room [of Marino’s impressive bronze box cabinets] is going to be upholstered in? Black. Leather.”

Marino held up a photo from the catalogue of a Richard Deacon sculpture that really “shows how I work and what the exhibit is all about.” Marino had purchased the twisted wood sculpture and then about two years later commissioned Deacon to build something for a Marino project called Louis Vuitton Island in Singapore. “So you see,” he said, “I get the art, I live with it, and then he inspired me, in his sculpture, to do this building.”

The area of the show that focuses on his architecture will feature “the seven major international competitions” he’s won (“even staff members are like, who knew?”). “It’s sort of tragic, none of them have ever been built,” he said. Just the way it works.

At the 21-minute mark the curator Sans, who had been silently looming during Marino’s presentation, made a statement about how pleased he was with the context the show achieves. “The present cannot exist without the past,” he said via Skype.

Then Marino took questions from the press. What was the first work of art he ever collected? A Warhol, probably. Another asked: and the last? The most recent? “I bought another Mapplethorpe yesterday,” Marino said, laughing.

After a few more questions, a publicist led the press through the office, which features an impressive collection of Wade Guyton, Tom Sachs, Damien Hirst, and Thomas Houseago, whose sculptures of skulls (for which Marino said he also has a thing) will come at the end of the Bass show. The very last piece, however, will be a portrait of Marino by Erwin Wurm, or more of a future portrait, Marino said. It’s just a skeleton in a leather cap and a motorcycle jacket.

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