Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1979 portrait of Bryan Ridley and Lyle Heeter provides an fitting surrogate for the seemingly contradictory aesthetics of New York architect Peter Marino. In one of the photographer’s most well-known images, a couple’s black leather clothing (and chains) is juxtaposed with their high-end domestic interior, replete with a wingback chair, oriental rug, and white antler end table. Marino, who is a collector of Mapplethorpe’s work, is not only the leading architect for fashion brands and upscale residences but also renowned for his head-to-toe leather biker gear.
Mapplethorpe’s photographs and Marino’s attire are similarly indebted to motorcycle culture and the drawings of Tom of Finland, which both reflected a growing discontent with mainstream American culture after WWII. Born Touko Laaksonen, Tom of Finland began producing drawings of idealized and hypersexualized men for beefcake magazines such as Physique Pictorial. The artist was particularly attracted to the stylized masculinity of leather-clad bikers, popularized by the actor Marlon Brando in the 1953 film The Wild One.
Tom of Finland’s now iconic pictures of leathermen have provided inspiration for Marino’s custom made wardrobe, and, in a Document exclusive, the architect has selected several pages from the artist’s own private reference binders of photo-collages. The pages reveal (as similarly demonstrated by an exhibition at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art last winter) that Tom of Findland was more than an illustrator, but a powerful artist who continues to influence our contemporary aesthetics and desires.
One Way: Peter Marino is open now through May 3, at the Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Avenue, and explores the renowned American architect’s multifaceted relationship with art. Recognized as a pioneer of cross-disciplinary practice, Peter Marino has been celebrated over the past four decades for his forward-thinking work that exists at the intersection of art, fashion and architectural design. Special thanks to Joakim Andreasson.