Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 Market

Peter Marino at The Bass: Buyer Beware

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Marino homes. (With accidental Steve Kroft)

Peter Marino’s new show at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, which showcases both the architecture he makes and the art that he collects, shows the luxury sadist to be many things. First he’s a man obsessed with texture. See his Anselm Kiefers, how they crumble. Pass through Gregor Hildebrandt’s hall of taut videocassette tape. (Shouldn’t that feel kinkier?) Notice his five-figure bronze boxes, part design objects, part sculpture. Texture’s pretty much all there is too them, isn’t it?

Second, he is a man who favors subject matter over quality. This can be seen in that Hildebrandt hallway, commissioned for the show, which pairs on one wall a series of dark abstract Richard Serras, Theaster Gateses, and a Keith Haring in a way that makes them all feel like they were done by the same artist instead of three wildly distinct ones. There are two walls of commissioned portraits, and then a room of skulls (“Skulls are a highly important symbol,” reads the wall text, “within art and art history, often appearing as a ‘momento mori,'” etc. etc.). Thomas Housego, Tom Sachs, Zhang Huan, Andy Warhol, skull, skull, skull, skull. You can picture him calling up his art person. “Has Dan Colen ever done a skull? No? Just checking. No that’ll be all. Bye.”

Third, and this is really the most important thing you learn about him: he’s clearly a man who likes to buy art. Look at those names mentioned above. Look at how much there is. He buys it, he owns it, he uses it. The art is there to function as a design element, a characteristic that is made explicit by the show’s last room (its “culmination,” according to the wall text), which displays sets from a production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice that Marino staged in his apartment last year. Everything in the show should be regarded as props for a man who wears a costume every day.

And that’s fine! Because buying art isn’t his job. His job is to craft monstrous spaces for brands like Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton, all of which sponsored the show, and he does a great job of it. My favorite wall in the exhibition, in the single room dedicated to his architecture, has a number of video monitors that walk you through some homes he’s designed, listed with their locations (Gstaadt, Milan, etc.) and resembling security cameras. Look, look, the installation seems to imply, people might live here. But we all know better.

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