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East Hampton is the Center of the Art World This Summer

best new art galleries East Hampton

Here’s where to find the best contemporary art on the East End this summer, as new galleries join long-time residents to make East Hampton the center of the art world.

East Hampton looks to be the center of the art world this summer

Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Lee Krasner, Dan Flavin and Roy Lichtenstein are among the contemporary artists known for living and working on the East End of Long Island. But for most of the contemporary art world, it was a bit of an afterthought for commercial activities. Until the summer of 2020.

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Thanks to COVID-19, the usual summer mega-events in the contemporary art world have been cancelled. So, there’s no Art Basel this year. And it’s an off-cycle year for the Venice Biennale. Couple that with the fact that many ultra-high net worth individuals decamped for the Hamptons in early March when the coronavirus lockdown began in Manhattan. They’re still there, with no plans to return to the city until the fall – at the earliest.

It’s the perfect recipe for a new art market by the sea. 

Parrish Art Museum. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

In interviews over the past 3 years or so, the pioneering art galleries on Newtown Lane in East Hampton have cited a steady increase in pedestrians annually. That slow-and-steady build may see a step-change this summer.

Artnet reports that “several blue-chip galleries, including Pace, dealer Max Levai, Van de Weghe Fine Art, Skarstedt Gallery, and auction house Sotheby’s are opening spaces in East Hampton this summer.”

Three of the newcomers will be in adjacent spaces on Newtown Lane in East Hampton, next to Babette’s restaurant.

In addition to the incredible Parrish Art Museum, the LongHouse Reserve Sculpture Garden, the Pollock-Krasner House and the Watermill Center, here are the stops to make if you decide to do an art crawl in or around East Hampton this summer.

best new art galleries East Hampton

Where to find the best contemporary art in East Hampton this summer. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

1. Pace Gallery, 68 Park Place, East Hampton

Pace Gallery’s new East End location is a 1,700-square-foot gallery in the heart of East Hampton Village. Artnet News reports that it will open in early July and remain in place through Columbus Day in early October. The inaugural show is a solo exhibition of new drawings by sought-after Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara.

Torkwase Dyson, I Belong to the Distance (2019) Wood, metal, granite, Dimensions variable © Torkwase Dyson.

Later in the summer, the space will host a solo show by Torkwase Dyson. Known for examining environmental racism, as well as the history and future of black liberation, Dyson’s abstract works grapple with the ways in which space is perceived and negotiated, particularly by black and brown bodies. 

It sounds like the perfect summer idyll, but reality will intrude, sadly. The New York Times reports that only 12 visitors and two staff members will be permitted in the space at the same time. And everyone will be required to wear masks.

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2. Skarstedt Gallery

Upper East Side gallery Skarstedt is another newcomer to the East End this summer. Owner Per Skarstedt committed to his space sight unseen, after his friend and fellow gallerist Christophe Van de Weghe suggested he take it. Skarstedt’s galleries in New York and London have been closed since March. And one Manhattan location is currently boarded up because of the protests against police brutality.

Skarstedt said he hopes to open on June 17, by appointment. Artnet News reports that the gallery’s first East Hampton exhibition will “physically mirror” its Art Basel online viewing room. 

Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #52 (1979). Photo courtesy the artist and gallery.

Reports are that the exhibition will include works by George Condo, Willem de Kooning, Eric Fischl, KAWS, Martin Kippenberger, Barbara Kruger, Albert Oehlen, Richard Prince, David Salle, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Rebecca Warren and Christopher Wool. Prices will range from $300,000 to $8.5 million.

3. Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s is opening a pop-up gallery this summer in East Hampton. The storied auction house will be offering fine art, 20th-century design objects, and luxury goods such as watches for immediate purchase.

In an email to the New York Times, a spokesman said Sotheby’s recognized “that many of our established clients as well as many potential new clients have been and will continue to be out East.”

Ed Ruscha California Grape Skins 2009 at the Sotheby’s Gallery in East Hampton. Photo Courtesy the artist.

In a clever twist, there’s a West-meets-East theme underway. Sotheby’s East Hampton gallery will present the view from the other coast, revealing the aesthetics of the Californian landscape. Expect a rotating selection of works by artists such as Ed Ruscha, Wayne Thiebaud, Mark Bradford, Henry Taylor, Jonas Wood and Mark Grotjahn.

4. Van de Weghe Fine Art

Christophe Van de Weghe of Van de Weghe Fine Art,  which has locations in Chelsea and the Upper East Side, has owned a house in East Hampton for 20 years. But until now, he never tried to establish a business location on the East End. It’s a new era, though, he told Bloomberg News: “This summer, nobody is traveling. Everybody is staying here.” 

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Big Sun, (1984). Photo Credit: Van de Weghe Fine Art.

He hopes to open his East Hampton outpost by the end of June, with works by Picasso, Basquiat and Lichtenstein.

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5. Alone Gallery

A short commute away from East Hampton, in nearby Wainscott, this summer you’ll find “Alone Gallery.” The brainchild of Max Levai, Tripoli Patterson, Bob Rubin and design agency, the space is designed to be experienced in total isolation. One person at a time, with no gallery staff present. (Although the New York Times reports that groups of up to four people who are living together are also allowed). 

best new art galleries East Hampton

Alone Gallery Wainscott Zev Starr Tambor via Tripoli Gallery

The project will launch on June 17 in Tripoli Gallery’s new location on Ardsley Road for viewings seven days a week throughout the summer. Guests will register for a 30-minute time slot on the gallery website, after which the gallery will send them a door code for solitary viewing. They will receive face masks, shoe covers and hand sanitizer at the door. The series of exhibitions include shows of work by Alex Katz, Tony Matelli, Tomás Sánchez, Celeste Dupuy- Spencer and Alice Neel.

6. Rental Gallery, 87 Newtown Lane

Gallerist Joel Mesler relocated from the Lower East Side to the East End in 2017. His Rental Gallery has a reputation for showing artists who are “breaking the rules.”  For the summer of 2020, the gallery is launching the season on an appointment-only basis with a show by Los Angeles-based artist Elizabeth Ibarra.

Elizabeth Ibarra

The artist’s vivid scenes of life beyond Earth feature extraterrestrial tableaux of lone dancing moons and brick-red Martians make use of materials like luminescent watercolor, cold wax, acrylic, and oil.

7. Harper’s Books, 87 Newtown Lane

Harper’s Books, an art gallery and rare-book store founded in 1997. Harper Levine, Chris Mansour and their team combine a curated selection of modern art, rare books and ephemera into a marvelous experience. 

Where to find art in East Hampton this summer: Harper’s Books. Photo Credit: Harper’s Books.

You may find yourself moved to pick up a vintage volume or two – what could be more on-point than a 1954 first edition of Jane Bowles’ play “In the Summer House” ($150)?

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8. Eric Firestone Gallery, 4 Newtown Lane

Architectural Digest describes the mission of the Eric Firestone Gallery as “helping rewrite art history. By spotlighting historical artists who have been overlooked, often alongside those who haven’t, Firestone offers a wealth of discoveries spanning the postwar era.”

Where to find art in East Hampton: Eric Firestone Gallery artist Joe Overstreet Conehatta (1978). Photo Courtesy of the artist and gallery.

For example, the gallery represents the late Joe Overstreet, a ground-breaking African-American artist and activist. In the 1960’s, he took abstract painting into the sculptural dimension; later he and his partner created a home in New York City for artists who had been ignored by the mainstream.

9. Halsey McKay Gallery, 79 Newtown Lane

Gallery owner Ryan Wallace, a painter, sculptor and surfer, launched Halsey McKay almost 10 years ago after falling in love with East Hampton when his wife was working there as a chef in the summer.

East Hampton art galleries

Where to find contemporary art in East Hampton this summer: Halsey McKay Gallery. Photo Courtesy Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton.

Halsey McKay represents emerging and mid-career artists; the gallery is currently open by appointment only. 

10. The Drawing Room, 66 Newtown Lane

Victoria Munroe and Emily Goldstein opened their contemporary art gallery The Drawing Room in East Hampton almost 20 years ago. They’ve demonstrated a deep commitment to Long Island artists and to presenting a diverse approach to making art. 

The current exhibition, which will run from June 10 – July 6, 2020, is Mary Ellen Bartley: Return to Summer Reading. You know how much we love art that features books! We are All. In.

East Hampton is the center of the art world this summer

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