Since the days of Great Gatsby, the East End of Long Island has been a destination for high-society types, but over the past few years, the tony locale has also embraced a new identity: a major destination for the arts.
While the transformation into an art hub was spurred by the pandemic—with blue-chip galleries setting up outposts as New York City residents hightailed it to their second homes more permanently—this year’s Hamptons Fine Art Fair, which opens this week, seems to indicate that those changes are sticking. The veteran event is heading for the first time to the bucolic 17-acre Southampton Fairgrounds with some 90 galleries, by far the largest edition to date.
“There is a sizable, new, wealthy customer base shopping for art in the Hamptons to fill the walls in their big estates, and the exhibitors are eager to help remedy this issue,” quipped Rick Friedman, the founder and executive director of the fair.
With this growth comes an increase in the caliber of art on offer, with works by Renoir, Monet, Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, Childe Hassam, and a rare Warhol Last Supper expected at the fair. In keeping with the region’s historic ties to the Abstract Expressionist movement—Peggy Guggenheim loaned Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner the down payment for house in Springs in 1945—galleries including Hollis Taggart, Vincent Vallarino Fine Art, Mark Borghi, and Findlay Galleries will present works by world-famous AbEx artists as well as more recent rediscoveries from the midcentury era.
Friedman notes that the fair is continuing to promote works across a range of price points. “Our goal is to provide our fellow art-enthusiastic Hamptonites a curated, high-caliber selection of important 20th- and 21st-century art, ranging from compelling emerging artists to the blue-chip masters,” he said, noting that works will range from tens of thousands to seven figures. “There are treasures for every budget, if you will,” he said.
This year the fair kicks off on July 14 with a Bastille Day-themed vernissage benefiting Guild Hall, which will showcasing French food and wine, a French jazz band, and a few more surprises (a Pommery roving bar cart pushed by a ballet dancer, for one). “Hamptonites want to return in full force to cultural events, so we expect our guests to explore the aisles with more vim and vigor than ever in July as they put the finishing touches on their summer design,” said Friedman.