It was with great sadness that UBS learned of the passing of Donald B. Marron on December 6, 2019. A financier and philanthropist, Marron was also a passionate art collector, whose acquisitions for PaineWebber form part of the UBS Art Collection.
Donald B. Marron was named chairman of UBS Americas in 2000, following a merger with the PaineWebber Group, where he served as CEO. While at PaineWebber, he personally directed the firm’s acquisition of more than 850 artworks by contemporary artists including Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Lucian Freud and Roy Lichtenstein, among others. These works are an integral part of the UBS Art Collection – recognized as one of the most significant corporate collections of contemporary art.
“This is a major art collection,” Glen D. Lowry, Director of MoMA, told the Times in 2002. “Don was quite courageous. It’s not the kind of safe collection most corporations build.” The UBS Art Collection continues to build on this legacy: today, it comprises more than 30,000 works across more than 700 offices worldwide representing the most-celebrated artists from 1960 onwards, spanning painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and video art.
Marron’s decision to establish a corporate collection reflected a personal belief in the importance of art in spaces dedicated to work: “We all spend probably a third of our lives in our offices,” he told The New York Times in 2005. “Therefore, if you can expose us to another aspect of creativity in our time, it’s a good thing, particularly in the securities business.”
In 2019, the launch of the UBS Art Gallery in New York has provided further opportunity to share the UBS Art Collection with the public. “The guiding mission of the collection is to capture the most significant artists and ideas of our time,” explains Mary Rozell, Global Head UBS Art Collection. “We are proud to now have a dedicated space to share that work.”
A new addition to the UBS Art Collection, ‘YOU HAVE SET MY SOUL ON FIRE’ (2019) by artist Jeffrey Gibson, was purchased in dedication to Marron’s life and legacy. In 2019, Jeffrey Gibson was featured in the Whitney Biennial in addition to being named a MacArthur Fellow: a prestigious award from the MacArthur Foundation, commonly known as the ‘Genius Grant’.
Marron also commissioned new work by living artists – a tradition that continues to be central to the UBS Art Collection. One recent commission ‘More Light Research’ (2019), a white neon sculptural installation by Cerith Wyn Evans, is shown at the UBS headquarters in London.
Marron will also be remembered for the shaping influence he had on America’s public arts institutions. He became a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in 1975, overseeing its expansion in the 1980s – a period that saw the museum double its gallery footprint. He was elected President of the Board of Trustees in 1985.
Away from the public eye, Marron was one of America’s great private collectors. “He’s always loved art,” Catherine Marron, his wife, told The New York Times. The artworks he acquired spanned the 20th and 21st centuries, and reflected his conviction that great art has the power to reflect and anticipate societal trends. That notion, too, continues to shape the UBS Art Collection today.