New York - Once summer hits New York City, it’s hot and humid, the subways always feel overcrowded and everyone seems to be anxiously awaiting the weekend. Come the weekend, the entire city empties out as everyone flocks to the Hamptons for a quick beach getaway. This past weekend I found myself caught up in the great migration to Long Island but it wasn’t to sprawl out on the beach but to attend the burgeoning art fair ArtHamptons in Bridgehampton.
ArtHamptons began over five years ago by founder and Executive Director Rick Friedman, and this year the fair celebrated it’s fifth edition in Nova’s Sculpture Park. Friedman said he was inspired to create ArtHamptons not only because he lives in the Hamptons but also because he “knows the major collectors, and dealers, and thought he could leverage all of his contacts to create a marketplace that would be substantial.” He told Art Life Magazine, “I was also inspired by the book “Hamptons Bohemia”, by Helen Harrison, that defines the rich art history of the Hamptons- so I thought what a great tribute to stage an event in the Hamptons in honor of our great history and tradition as an art mecca and creative community.” While Friedman stated the site location of Nova’s Sculpture Park was chosen for “it’s 95 bucolic acres- as far as the eye can see- a dramatic sculpture park, polo field with matches, horse stables- with over 100 horses, breath-taking sunsets, and tons of celebs live within walking distance.”
Kicking off on Thursday with the Opening Night Preview, in the lavish 45,000 square foot tent, over 3,000 beautiful Hamptonites, wealthy vacationers and art connoisseurs sipped wine and perused exhibitors’ booths. ArtHamptons reported record attendance at Opening Night, which continued throughout the weekend until Sunday. Overall, attendance rose 20% from last year’s fair.
By comparison to the “heavy-hitter” fairs like Basel, Basel Miami and TEFAF, ArtHamptons is a relatively young fair and small in scale. But, the overwhelming attendance of over 11,000 fairgoers and buzz of the press in Manhattan and Long Island proved that sometimes scale doesn’t matter. From critics at Artnet, art dealers to high society women adorned in Chanel with children in hand, the audience for ArtHamptons was diverse to say the least. The same could be said for the art; galleries from 10 different countries, alongside 77 international dealers, showcased over 3,000 post-war and contemporary artworks from 400 artists.
The organization of the fair was what I would call a “hodgepodge” of galleries, less fluid than other fairs I’ve attended, but it didn’t hinder my viewing experience. If anything, it heightened my sense of intrigue as I meandered through the tent, because I never knew what type of art I would be confronted with next. Some booths dialogued well with each other like Peter Marcelle Gallery’s (Bridgehampton) across from the Vicky David Gallery (New York). Saint-Phalle’s Femme Bleue (Luminaire) (1984) a large blue painted resin sculpture priced at $225 000 along with Quinze’s bright red framed installation There is no chaos only structure (2011) added dynamism to the subtle resin paintings and simple figurative sculptures of Eric Fischl. Additionally, the hyper realistic life-sized sculpture Embrace by artist Marc Sijan (selling only for a cool $85,000!) was nicely offset by the smaller mystical Saint-Phalle sculptures and Ben Vautier’s ironic paintings at Vicky David. Similarly, the positioning of Tel Aviv’s Zemach Contemporary booth adjacent to Seoul’s Youngartgallery- offered viewers art of an international flavor
While, two of the most memorable booths, which were focal points of the fair, were Mark Borghi Gallery’s presentation of Lisa Jack’s photographs of a young Obama and a tribute to painter Ed Moses. Moses’s paintings are dynamic, bold colors of blues, purples against yellows, are achieved by a layered approach to accentuate depth in each composition. Amazingly, Moses is in his eighties and is still producing work, so this year ArtHamptons recognized him by presenting the artist with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Another award presented was the Arts Patron of the Year to honorable guest and legendary Hollywood comic/actor/art pioneer Cheech Marin.
Another surprise was the relatively conservative (dare I say, affordable?) price tags for artwork despite its upscale Hamptons location. Artworks ranged from $1,500 to a little over $1,000,000. Eli Klein Fine Art sold several Liu Bolin photographs and Zhang Gong, totaling over $200,000 in sales; Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery made a modest $75,000 in sales with the sale of works by Zachary Thorn and Andrea Kowch; while the Mark Borghi Gallery sold five Ed Moses paintings and several Lisa Jack photographs.
Other significant events throughout the weekend included the much anticipated Pollock at 100: A Centennial Celebration with a tribute to Pollock; Russell Simmons Art For Life party, hosted by the Hamptons Social Network; and the Empire State Pride Agenda Hamptons Tea Dance on Saturday.
It seems clear that ArtHamptons is on the precipice of becoming the next “it” summer fair to attend. And founder Rick Friedman hasn’t set his sights solely on ArtHamptons, he is proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with in the establishment of other fairs including SF Fine Art Fair, ArtAspen, Houston Fine Art Fair and Palm Springs Fine Art Fair.
Art - Fairs
by Laura Stewart | Friday, 20 July 2012