Insignia Grand Dining Room

Oceania Cruises Art Collection

In February of 2011, Oceania Cruises unveiled the cruise ship Marina at a gala ceremony in Miami. As journalists, travel agents and the first guests explored the decks of the luxurious new vessel, they were astounded to discover that they had boarded a floating art museum. One that showcased a world-class collection of artworks personally curated by the founders of Oceania Cruises.

Most cruise lines hire third party contractors to assemble the decorative art for their ships, selecting one of the few companies capable of securing a collection of this scale. The goal of most of these collections is, at best, to enhance the ambiance and, at worst, to simply match the decor. Oceania Cruises founders Frank Del Rio and Bob Binder wanted to take a different approach. “We weren’t just looking for background music,” Binder says. “We wanted pieces that were bold and interesting, pieces that made a statement, provoked conversation and inspired emotion.”

© Justin Kriel

Marina and her sister ship, Riviera, were designed to eschew the common look of a cruise ship or hotel. From the initial stages of the ships’ conception, Del Rio and Binder worked to create the feel of a luxurious private home, one in which guests would feel immediately comfortable. They themselves selected most of the fabrics, furnishings and fixtures on the ships. When it came to the artwork, they took a similar approach, hoping to assemble a collection such as that which a private collector might amass over a period of decades.

The resulting Oceania Cruises Art Collection is a diverse assortment of masterpieces from renowned names like Picasso and Miró, as well as gems from emerging artists such as Li Dominguez Fong and Carlos Luna. Spanning eras from classic to contemporary and methods from painting to sculpture to blown glass, the scale of the collection is currently unrivalled at sea.

Beginnings

The duo began acquiring the collection for the first new ship, Marina, when construction began in 2008. The process took three full years, and they were hanging the last piece on the ship just days before Marina’s inaugural voyage in 2011. Purchasing art for a ship that was not yet built was no easy task. They had to trust that the space, the scale, the viewing angle and the lighting would evolve as they envisioned in order to best complement each piece. “For several years I travelled with two suitcases,” Del Rio remembers, “one with my clothes and one with all the blueprints and architectural drawings and fabric samples for the ship, so that when we came across a piece of art that we liked, we could try to determine not only whether it would physically fit in the space but also whether it would bring something to the environment. Of course, we had to make some adjustments when installing the art, but we were amazed at how well the collection came together on Marina.”

Stateroom © Justin Kriel

Diversity

From the beginning, Del Rio and Binder wanted to select pieces that would provoke thought and discussion and that would also set a distinct tone for the various spaces onboard the ships. This singular vision evolved into a collection that feels unified despite its diversity, as Del Rio and Binder actually have quite differing tastes in art. Binder favours the work of the Abstract Expressionists, while Del Rio prefers more figurative art and has a particular fondness for artists from his native Cuba. “Our differingperspectives made the collection much more eclectic and exciting,” Binder says.

During their travels Del Rio and Binder had opportunities to visit galleries, art shows and auctions across the globe. Some pieces were purchased directly from the artists, and several pieces were commissioned from artists. As a result, the works span eras and genres and represent an international array of artistic talent, from the 19th-century nautical art of Thomas Buttersworth to the modern pop art of Damien Hirst. Guests could spend weeks exploring the ships and still continue to discover new gems.

For highlights of artworks onboard the ships, click HERE

The Lalique Grand Staircase

+ oceaniacruises.com

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