peter marino receives THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021 'best exhibition' for his art foundation

Nov 19, 2021

in a meticulously renovated southampton building dating back to the 19th century, peter marino – principal of his eponymous architecture and design firm, and the architect for luxury brands such as louis vuitton and dior – exhibits his affinity for the old and new. the 1895 building, which served as the old rogers memorial library and now houses the peter marino art foundation, showcases over 100 pieces of art and design from his extensive collection (that he has been building for more than 40 years now), backdropped by a masterfully detailed restoration. the exhibition includes works by artists such as andy warhol, jean-michel basquiat, anselm kiefer and tom sachs (recipient of TDP’s 2021 golden madonnina ‘in the artistic realm’!), photographs by diane arbus and cindy sherman, as well as baroque and renaissance-era bronzes and egyptian, greek, and roman antiquities. each of the eight galleries is dedicated to a different collecting category, while all are encapsulated within the old library’s antique grandeur.

‘I see it as a house museum. a frick by the sea,’ peter marino tells designboom, referring to the new york city art institution that houses henry clay frick’s personal collection of fine and decorative arts. we spoke with the architect ahead of being awarded with the golden madonnina trophy 2021 of milan’s THE DESIGN PRIZE for ‘best exhibition’ (find out more about the prize here). during our interview and tour of the foundation, where we got to experience first hand the artworks on view, marino delves into the origins of his collection, the criteria behind selecting his acquisitions, as well as the dialogue between the pieces and the rooms of the newly-restored southampton building.

header image: ‘the meeting room’ at the foundation’s upper level, which featured a rotating gallery of shows over the summer of 2021. looking at a portrait of peter marino by francesco clemente (center), several sculptures by tom sachs (from left to right) – both artists were guest speakers at the peter marino art foundation with exhibitions centered around their work

all images © jason schmidt, courtesy peter marino architect

peter marino has been running his new york-based architecture practice since 1978, which now counts six associates, 160 employees and additional offices in philadelphia and southampton. he is well-known for integrating art within architectural designs, and has commissioned over 250 site-specific works for his projects, such as the large-scale strands of hand-blown glass ‘pearls’ that french artist jean-michel othoniel created for chanel’s new bond street shop in london, and its manhattan flagship store on 57th street.

‘I go to art galleries wherever I am in the world. new york, london, venice, milan, paris. I gather ideas, I make meaningful connections and I take notes,’ the architect says during our interview. with the aim of showcasing his extensive art collection to the public, marino purchased and meticulously restored the former rogers memorial library, designed by american architect R.H. robertson in 1895. ‘we took nearly three years restoring the 19th century historical façade and redesigning the interior spaces,’ he notes. ‘more than 8,000 square feet of exhibition spaces are spread over two levels.’ see more images of the peter marino art foundation and read our interview in full, below.

designboom (DB): when did you start to collect art? what did you first collect?

peter marino (PM): about 40 years ago. the first contemporary pieces I ever bought were two small polaroids by lucas samaras that I saw at pace gallery, which was right around the corner from my first job, at SOM. I remember the trauma of writing my first check to an art gallery.

DB: why did you create the peter marino art foundation?

PM: based on the very popular response I had showing artworks from my collection at the southampton arts center in 2019 — there was such an overwhelming community enthusiasm — I thought there would be a place for my collection right next door. I see it as a house museum. a frick by the sea.

DB: please tell us more about the building where the foundation is hosted and (what you love about it).

PM: I was very disappointed to see what happened to the building. the american architect, R.H. robertson has done a number of major buildings in manhattan that you can still see — and the former rogers memorial library he designed is one of the best buildings on long island. my wife and I were walking down jobs lane one day, a few summers ago and as we passed the old rogers memorial library she said, ‘it’s such a shame that a beautiful historic building is now a store selling sheets and towels.’ ‘someone should save it.’ I told her, agreeing. ‘but who?’ why not you? asked jane.

DB: the design and restoration process has been a long and complicated one?

PM: we took nearly three years restoring the 19th century historical façade and redesigning the interior spaces. more than 8,000 square feet of exhibition spaces are spread over two levels. the foundation currently includes a selection of over 100 artworks from my collection: old master paintings, egyptian, greek, and roman antiquities, renaissance and baroque bronzes, 20th century photography, and german, french and russian porcelain and ceramic — from 3000 BC to the present day.

DB: a collection is usually curated. can you illustrate a few of your themes? tell us more about your selection criteria please.

PM: for themes — women photographers, black and white art, bronzes of all ages, ceramics and silver. post world war II german paintings…

DB: I’m wondering about the sequence of rooms and artworks included. is there dialogue between the spaces and works ‘planned’?

PM: yes, a strong sequencing.

a francesco clemente show included a commission for peter marino, ‘untitled (elysian fieldleaves), 2013’, watercolor on paper. surrounding sculptures by tom sachs

DB: you are also known for commissioning artists for your architectural projects. can you tell us more?

PM: I came from a fine arts background and transferred to architecture, so I’ve always been involved in both worlds. in 2016 phaidon published ‘art architecture’, which documented over 250 commissions with artists that I’ve incorporated into my architectural projects over the past 30 years. in the foundation, we also have several commissions including wall art by richard woods and peter dayton did collages for both the exterior and interior of the elevator, integrating artworks directly into the building. the combination of art and architecture is meant to make the whole greater, and create richer overall experiences.

DB: when you’re collecting — for yourself or for a client — do you usually seek out pieces or discover them by chance? where do you find inspiration? how do you choose artists to collaborate with?

PM: I go to art galleries wherever I am in the world. new york, london, venice, milan, paris. I gather ideas, I make meaningful connections and I take notes. now it is interesting because I am known for commissioning artists. many artists I collect and work with are ones whom I’ve had long relationships with — but new people and work is also constantly in the mix.

tom sachs show. july 2021 show included an in-person art talk with tom sachs, moderated by bob colacello (co-director), isabelle marino (co-director) and peter marino

DB: when acquiring new works of art, what do you value most?

PM: beauty, relevance, innovativeness.

the photography gallery featuring a show ‘works by women artists’. artworks by: diane arbus, vanessa beecroft, sarah charlesworth, candida hofer, cindy sherman, louise lawler, karine laval, vera lutter, jean pagliuso, priscilla rattazzi, michal rovner, pola sieverding. center sculpture by johan creten

the newly restored building is open to the public for timed tours on fridays and saturdays. tickets to the museum can be found here.

THE DESIGN PRIZE is an annual award program that celebrates excellence on a global scale. initiated in 2017 and curated by designboom, with patronage by the city of milan, THE DESIGN PRIZE recognizes both the extraordinary achievements and little sparks of beauty and delight that have emerged over the past 12 months.