Eastward, Ho! Even Art Is Leaving for the Hamptons

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. — The artwork collectors had been lastly popping out of hiding right here lately, albeit quietly and tentatively. The artists had been, too.

The lure? All of a sudden, they’ve much more gallery choices lining the immaculate streets of this famously upscale summer time city, a seemingly sudden improvement in the center of a pandemic.

Since the starting of June, 5 main artwork galleries have opened right here: Pace, Skarstedt, Van de Weghe, Michael Werner and Sotheby’s, all arms of New York artwork powerhouses.

And extra are on the approach quickly, in Montauk (Amalia Dayan and Adam Lindemann’s new enterprise, South Etna Montauk) and Southampton (Hauser & Wirth).

“Selfishly, I’m totally into it,” the artist Rashid Johnson, a Bridgehampton resident, mentioned of the new areas. “I miss seeing good art.” Mr. Johnson, like each civic-minded individual I met, was carrying a masks.

New York’s prime sellers, artists and collectors have lengthy vacationed right here. But now that they’ve been dwelling right here throughout the pandemic, some gallerists are for the first time seeing the Hamptons as “something more than a playground,” the artist Clifford Ross, a longtime space denizen, mentioned.

I drove out for the day to take a look at the newly burgeoning scene. When I ended by Rental Gallery, on Newtown Lane, which has been open for three years, I bumped into Mr. Johnson, an in depth pal of Rental’s proprietor, Joel Mesler, his neighbor in Bridgehampton. In the entrance of the gallery, a part of a July group present known as “Friend of Ours,” hangs an untitled, blood-red drawing of Mr. Johnson’s born of pandemic anxiety.

Mr. Johnson wasn’t thrilled with the framing (too thick, he said), and as we were talking, he was recognized by two collectors, Erica Seidel and Tom Deighton, who are engaged.

“We own one of your pieces,” Mr. Deighton, a real estate developer, said to Mr. Johnson, referring to a mixed media work.

Given that outdoor chats are preferred these days, we went out to his back patio and sat under an umbrella as it started to drizzle. He noted that though his collecting has slowed a bit, he was still buying, and he had unsuccessfully bid on a Donald Judd work the week before in a Sotheby’s sale.

“You could say they’re following one another,” said Mr. Riggio of the eastward gallery movement. “But perhaps better to say they have common wisdom.”

The development is a “big benefit” for him and his fellow collectors, said Mr. Riggio, a longtime friend and client of the Glimcher family, the owners of Pace. (He said he planned to check out the new branch soon.)

Online exhibitions don’t quite cut it, Mr. Glimcher said, and being surrounded by affluent collectors in the Hamptons is helpful for a gallery in that it nurtures relationships.

“Our fuel comes from people being in front of art,” he said.

Mr. Glimcher’s father, the Pace founder Arne Glimcher, has been coming to the area since the 1970s. “The big change is that the spaces out here weren’t run by the big New York galleries,” he said. “It was more local.” And that closer-to-home focus included the artists that were shown. He added: “Coming to East Hampton was not about doing business. It was to get away from the gallery. It’s ironic that we have a gallery now.”

He chuckled, adding, “But the collectors are here, and the work has to be seen.’

Another veteran, Helen A. Harrison, the director of Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center here, said the international vibe of the new entries was “unusual” for the area; the only comparison she could think of was before her time, the legendary 1957-60 Signa Gallery, a pioneering showcase for modern art, founded by the collector and artist Alfonso Ossorio with John Little and Elizabeth Parker, two other artists who had settled in East Hampton. It featured Abstract Expressionist masters like Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock but faded with the coming of Pop Art.

And incursions from Manhattan have not always gelled. Ms. Harrison recalled that in 1981, a high-profile collaboration from dealers Leo Castelli, Marian Goodman and Holly Solomon was launched in East Hampton to great fanfare.

“It failed,” Ms. Harrison said. “People didn’t open their wallets. They were showing the same people as in Manhattan, but people went back there to do the buying.”

Failure is relative, of course — at the high-flying level of Castelli, the Glimchers and others, an extra gallery can be a pleasant experiment that doesn’t make or break their business.

Mr. Skarstedt noted that locals were just becoming aware of the gallery’s presence. “We’re averaging 20 people a day, more on the weekend,” he said.

He said the visitors had mostly complied with pandemic safety, too, with a notable exception. “Only one guy came in without a mask,” Mr. Skarstedt said. “And he was 85.”

Given the spate of galleries arriving, it could serve as an “open for business” sign for the Hamptons at large.

Source link Nytimes.com

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