By Romain Raynaldy, AFP
LOS ANGELES–U.S. designer and architect Peter Marino relishes the visual stimulation of art all around him — and admits he is at odds with fashion guru Giorgio Armani on when enough is enough. The 61-year-old, who has a collection of bronzes currently on show in California, has for the last four decades been designing hotels, homes and luxury stores around the world. He is currently working on a hotel-spa in Beirut, new Louis Vuitton boutiques in Singapore and Shanghai and a new Christian Dior outlet in Hong Kong. But his real pleasure comes from being surrounded by art which he had collected over the years. “It’s a total visual stimulation. I have a literal endorphin release if I look at something beautiful,” he says, laughing. “My profession or life is just aesthetic exercises with my eyes. In my home, I have a collection of four De Koonings and older bronze scultpures very baroque that I put underneath.” De Kooning “is totally baroque. His lines never stop moving, your eye can’t really rest for one minute, just as they can’t in baroque sculpture.” His remarkable collection of bronzes, which began when he acquired “Hercule et Antee” by Italian sculptor Stefano Maderno, is now on show at the Huntingon Museum in San Marino, north of Los Angeles. “Bronze is a very heavy, solid metal, it lasts thousands of years, the idea that you can artistically cast something that has so much movement, so much expression,” he says. “For me it’s like the ultimate combination of unbelievably high technical engineering skills, with art. And that’s also, I think, what architecture is,” he adds. Born in New York’s Queens district, Marino counted Yves Saint-Laurent and Andy Warhol among his first customers. He re-vamped the latter’s famous Factory, and it was through Warhol that he first began to collect art. Over the years he has worked with some of the biggest names in the art and designer world — including Armani, whose home he was working on in 1988 when the pair realised they had a fundamental difference. “When the home was finished — I understood because he is a minimalist — he put no art in it. It’s the only house I’ve ever worked on in my entire career with not a single painting, nor a single sculpture,” he said. “And he said to me, ‘Peter, my eyes are so tired at the end of the day that I want to go home and just want to be in a cell and I don’t want to see nothing.’” “I said to Giorgio, ‘I could never do that.’ A house like that, it doesn’t make me feel rested and good. I need constant stimulation, I love constant stimulation.
“If you were in my office, you would see that every room is full of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glasswork, everything. But it doesn’t make me exhausted, it stimulates me, it gives me life.” Marino’s collection of bronze statues, many of which have not been seen in public before, are on display at the Huntingdon Museum in San Marino until Jan. 24, 2011.