The Eastern End of Long Island has long been a post of artistic production for important modern and contemporary artists who have found themselves settling in or passing through the South Fork Hamptons communities and North Fork neighborhoods. The following is a brief history, more of a teaser, as there are far too many names of artists past and present to include.
William Merrit Chase and Childe Hassam were among the earliest artists to arrive at the turn of the 19th century. Robert Motherwell arrived in the 1940s, followed by Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Willem de Kooning stayed with Pollock and Krasner for a weekend before buying a house in the 1950s and moving his studio there in the 1960s. Stanley William Hayter lived in Amagansett in the early 1940s, and Joan Mitchell summered in East Hampton during the early 1950s. Fairfield Porter settled in Southampton in the 1960s. By the early 1970s, Andy Warhol and Richard Avedon set down roots in Montauk, while Roy Lichtenstein lived in Southampton.
Louise Bourgeois stored her sculpture unattended outdoors in the fields of the Hamptons in the 1970s, and Bruce Nauman worked in Roy Lichtenstein’s studio for nine months. Three communities in Sag Harbor are historically African American, and became a home to artists in the 1960s, including Nanette Carter, Frank Wimberley, and later Al Loving. Donald Sultan, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Cindy Sherman, Carroll Dunham, and Vija Celmins all located to Sag Harbor in the 1980s. John Chamberlain settled in Shelter Island; Dan Flavin, George Condo, and Chuck Close in Bridgehampton; Francesco Clemente, James DeWoody, Clifford Ross, Lynda Benglis, and Barbara Kruger in East Hampton; Richard Prince in Southampton; and Annie Leibovitz in Wainscott. In recent years, Matthew Barney, Elizabeth Peyton, and Richard Serra have made Orient Point their home. Stuart Davis did not live on Long Island but is buried in the famous Green River cemetery in East Hampton as are Pollock, de Kooning, and Ad Reinhardt.
Working across disciplines, this group of artists share only the presence of Long Island as their subject matter has little to do with the area. It’s rather astonishing then that Willem de Kooning’s beautiful black and white Abstract Expressionist lithographs are the works that most specifically reference the beaches of the East End.
Now, with the stunning new Parrish Museum designed by Herzog and de Meuron in Southampton, ongoing exhibitions at Guild Hall and the Pollock Krasner House, and other institutions, such as The Watermill Center, Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, and LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, the East End has become an important destination for anyone interested in American art of the 20th century through today. It is an exciting time to collect work by this extraordinary body of artists who settled in these ocean, bayfront, and farm communities, past and present.