In the wake of another successful Art Basel last month, many New York collectors and gallerists returned home just long enough to pack up and head to the Hamptons — and not just for the beaches. Collecting season is not yet over, with three fairs coming up on Long Island’s East End: ArtHamptons and artMRKT Hamptons from July 11 to 14, followed by Art Southampton from July 25 to 29.
Since the inaugural SCOPE Hamptons fair in 2005, gallerists have been taking advantage of the area’s summertime concentration of art aficionados; ArtHamptons is now in its sixth year, artMRKT Hamptons its third, and Art Southampton is returning after a successful first outing, having doubled in size.
“You’ve got an educated audience that is interested, and they’re relaxed, they’ve got some free time, so it’s a good moment to get them involved in the conversation,” says artMRKT cofounder and director Max Fishko. Rick Friedman, the founder of ArtHamptons, puts it this way: “Everybody has a home that could use another painting, basically, so there are a lot of opportunities.” And given the purchasing power on the East End, those opportunities will likely be lucrative: Despite the relatively small size of ArtHamptons — it now has 78 exhibitors — Friedman reports that some works at the fair have sold for more than $1 million.
Art that has done well in the past has often played to the grand scale of Hamptons houses. “Most of them are huge and white, so we do actually bring larger format [works] than if we’re going to some fair in the city, and more colorful,” says Gregoire Vogelsang of Belgium’s Vogelsang Gallery. He is returning to ArtHamptons based on past success, and says he plans to show at multiple Hamptons fairs next year. And Eli Klein of Eli Klein Fine Art — the only gallery that will be exhibiting at all three fairs this year — notes that “outdoor sculpture goes over well in the Hamptons,” where “any number of collectors maintain fabulous sculpture gardens.” At ArtHamptons Klein is showing “Captured Rhino,” 2012, a 39-by-35-by-106 inch stainless steel and wood sculpture by the Beijing-based artist Li Hui in an edition of five, each priced at $126,000.
Still, Hamptons fairs are not only about spending huge sums on huge artworks: Friedman says that works at his fair more typically go for between $10,000 and $50,000 — what he describes as “still an impulse buy in the Hamptons” (something that’s certainly “not true of other places around the country,” he adds). And the timing of the Hamptons fairs, at the very end of the marathon fair season, means that gallerists have a strong incentive to surprise seasoned collectors with unfamiliar work.
“I do see, particularly in the summertime fairs in the Hamptons, an emphasis on emerging, on contemporary, on discovery,” Fishko says. “If people are going to make a serious purchase of a secondary market piece of art, they’re likely going to do it from their gallery in New York. They don’t need you to come up to the Hamptons and show it to them.”
Fishko’s artMRKT Hamptons, with just 39 exhibitors, seems to champion this “discovery” ethos. Its roster includes a number of up-and-coming galleries — including Southampton’s Tripoli Gallery, making its art fair debut — as well as a fresh take on catering, which will be supplied this year by some of Brooklyn’s most popular gourmet food trucks. “We’re just trying to do something that we think is going to be fun and cool,” says Fishko.
Kevin Van Gorp, director of L.A.’s 101/exhibit — another gallery making its artMRKT Hamptons debut — sees the fair as an opportunity to “create momentum with younger crowds.” (He also points to Sag Harbor, with clubs and bars open until 2 a.m., as a “viable alternative for networking and hanging out,” particularly for those who may not have Southampton homes to dine in.)
And while ArtHamptons appears to be foregrounding the past with a theme of “Hamptons Bohemia” — celebrating the East End’s rich history of resident artists like the late Larry Rivers, whose work will be on view at Tibor de Nagy — the fair has also brought in Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, the founders of the cutting-edge SPRING/BREAK Art Show in Nolita — to curate “Bushwick Bohemia,” a group exhibition of artists from the burgeoning Brooklyn scene.
Another work by an emerging artist at the fair will be “Goodbye My Love,” an installation by the Cuban Esterio Segura, presented by Saltfineart. A series of 12 red planes with heart-shaped fuselages suspended from the ceiling, the piece was featured in the 2012 Havana Biennale and recently hung in an walkway-cum-exhibition space in Times Square. As Friedman says, “People have never seen anything like this in the Hamptons.”