Maurice Marciano and Paul Marciano
Maurice and Paul Marciano, who, along with their two brothers, founded the American fashion company Guess Jeans, began collecting art in 1990 with a few Impressionist works. Following a realization that he couldn’t own much work if he stuck with Impressionism (most of the good stuff is in museums or prohibitively expensive), Maurice began buying contemporary art. The brothers, who collect together, now own approximately 1,500 pieces by well-known artists, such as Takashi Murakami, Olafur Eliasson and Ai Weiwei, and lesser-known emerging California figures. Maurice shared with ARTnews a new acquisition in 2019: “This past spring, the young Swiss painter Nicolas Party made a beautifully chromatic mural in the MAF stairwell entitled Trees (2018), his first commission on the West Coast. As both an artwork and something that all visitors to the foundation may enjoy, this represents one of our favorite recent additions to our collection.”
In 2013, Marciano and Paul acquired a former Masonic temple on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles in order to create a museum to showcase their collection (which is now the site of that Party piece). Getting it ready for the public took some work, though: to properly exhibit their more large-scale works, they tore down the former theater of the temple, which involved installing a flat concrete surface where the formerly sloped theater floor had been and taking out an entire mezzanine section to create a 13,000-square-foot space with 40-foot-high ceilings. The museum, named Marciano Art Foundation, officially opened in 2017. In 2019, the space courted controversy when it laid off more than 60 workers amid a unionization campaign, and it later closed permanently.
Fun fact: the Marcianos often exhibit contemporary art in their Los Angeles Guess stores. It’s not unusual to see a Thomas Houseago or an Allora & Calzadilla next to a rack of jeans.