In the past five years, art life in the Hamptons (one of the richest villages of the U.S.) has been transforming from national to international level, due to the two huge summer exhibitions. Art Hamptons and Art Southampton are organized in the Hamptons every summer. Two of these luxurious exhibitions, became s staple summer tradition, and not only they are attracting a large many visitors, but also they are displaying art on the different level. For a relatively short period of time, these prominent functions transformed from “society parties” to major art exhibitions.
This transformation was least expected, or rather, least welcomed by local residents. For the last hundred years, they have been trying hard to get rid of rubbernecks, paparazzi and new residents, and have taken every measure available to millionaires living in a democratic country. Land taxes in these demographics are infinitely high, as the price tags in local shops and restaurants, as services are extremely expensive. Of course, it is impolite to say to the guest visitors: ”Don’t visit us anymore!” Although, it is possible to make all the beaches and roads private, and make sure their police is well taken care of financially. For example: $100,000 annual membership fees in a golf and yacht clubs. As a matter of fact, it is impossible for a local resident to live in the Hamptons without being a member of local club, because this kind of status is actually mandatory.
Therefore, any event that had been launched in the Hamptons for the last few years was successful only during the summer season. Art galleries, boutiques and jewelry shops cannot survive because of the high rent costs and they disappear soon enough. As for the new ones that are trying their luck, they don’t last either.
Southampton is the center of all Hamptons and is often called a center of “unstable business.” However, there are some shops and restaurants that have been consistently stable for the last half century, because they pay $100,000 membership fees at a golf club and there’s no need for them to depend on the profits of their bars and boutiques.
The lifestyle in the Hamptons is very exclusive. Most people only read or heard about private parties that go on there during the summer, because the guest lists are so exclusive and so private, and are limited only to those residents with relevant status. But of course, in the Hamptons, as in any prestigious residential area, there are “art communities” and even local newspaper, which is reporting about local art events and all sorts of functions. Some galleries and local museums only concentrate on exhibiting their local artists, and the city council provides them with different grants. You can get a good review or announcement of your exhibition, visited by your exclusive friends for a certain fee.
But even in this non-competitive environment, there are some well-known talented artists, effectively producing and representing their beloved Hamptons art scene very well. One of the most brilliant artists residing in the Hamptons, who is actually a true genius, is a Ukrainian futurist, David Burliuk (you can read about him in our upcoming Fall issue,) and another one, is most unique American abstract expressionist, Jackson Pollock.
The most serious changes in a self-contained and snobby Hampton’s life took place in the mid-1990s. U.S. economy was booming at that time, and generated new number of millionaires, who made their fortune in modern technology. They came to the Hamptons with their own ideas about culture and pleasure. The Hamptons got very loud, seasonal Italian sport car rentals got really busy, private villas and private summer parties overflew with famous guests. All these prominent big events, such as, Antique Show and the Antique Car Show, as well as, many other exhibitions have been attracting a lot of new visitors, and the new generation of locals just waiting to have fun, “to see and to be seen.”
The “Art Hampton’s” exhibition initially opened almost ten years ago. Its founder, Rick Friedman, made his fortune in media projects during the 1990s. The exhibition became part of the Expo Group projects, which also includes key American art exhibitions such as: Art Aspen, Houston Fine Art Fair and Palm Springs Fine Art Fair. After the first two doubtful years, it became evident that the event is gaining huge popularity. For four years under Nika Korniloff management, the second exhibition – Art Southampton, has opened as part of the media group: Art Miami. These exhibitions compete with each other, but visitors enthusiastically attend both. The exhibitions gained their reputation as luxurious events with a red carpet and celebrities in attendance. Both events are held in mid summer and actually pretty close to each other. They take place in the village of Bridgehampton, in identical hangars located in the field. Despite certain similarity and similar audience, these art shows have different aims. Art Hamptons gives its exhibition space to the local artists and galleries, without demanding a high level of artistry. Art Southampton presents notable New York galleries with their precious collections of well-known artists and their art.
This time last summer, a third exhibition of modern design opened its doors, and had tremendous success and high attendance level. The reviews were blasting with positive vibes as well. What should we expect within the next few years? I believe, that fashion is coming to the Hamptons next.
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