Art On The East End

The East End has been a vibrant art community since the 1870s, when the Long Island Rail Road made the area easily accessible from New York City. Thomas Moran settled in East Hampton with his family in 1884, and his studio soon became a gathering place for artists and intellectuals. A number of Moran's bucolic landscapes are featured in the exhibition, including A Midsummer Day, East Hampton, Long Island (1903), which captures the lush greenery of the countryside. Childe Hassam (1859-1935), one of America's most prominent Impressionists, was a seasonal resident of the Hamptons from 1919 until his death. One of many artists fascinated by the area's unique quality of light, Hassam used short brushstrokes and a vivid color palette to evoke glimmering and flickering rays of light in his oil painting Little Old Cottage, Egypt Lane, East Hampton.

Abstract Expressionists

In the 1940s and 50s, the Hamptons became a popular destination for artists, especially the leading proponents of Abstract Expressionism. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) lived on the East End with his wife, the artist Lee Krasner (1908-1984), from 1945 until his death. An untitled 1951 drawing by Pollock, a highlight of the exhibition and the Guild Hall collection, features thick ink strokes and rounded forms that seem to emerge from the chaos. The drawing dates from a key moment in Pollock's career when he underwent a stylistic shift away from Action Painting and returned to depictions of the figure. Also on view will be Lee Krasner's oil painting Shattered Color (1947), one of a series of paintings inspired by colorful mosaic-topped tables she made from pieces of broken glass, shells, pebbles and other found materials.

Willem and Elaine de Kooning were fixtures of the East End art scene for more than 40 years. Willem (1904-1997) first visited East Hampton in the 1950s, when he sought a place to work in greater peace and isolation. His 1972 untitled oil painting features the open composition, less cluttered palette, and looser, liquid brushstrokes that are emblematic of his later career. The work evokes de Kooning's feelings of being at peace in his rural surroundings and relief at escaping the claustrophobic atmosphere of city life. Elaine de Kooning (1920-1989) often combined realism and abstraction in her work, and one of her drawings from the seven-year Bacchus series will be on view. Based on a nineteenth-century sculpture she saw in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, Bacchus #63 (1982) combines figural and abstract elements, with bold blue and green waves of color encircling the god Bacchus and his attendants. Other noted Abstract Expressionists included in this exhibition include James Brooks, Ibram Lassaw and Adolph Gottlieb.

Contemporary Experiments

The East End continues to be at the forefront of the art scene, with resident artists producing forward-thinking and experimental works. Chuck Close who has lived and worked in Bridgehampton since 1975, developed his signature Photo-Realist style in the early 1970s by experimenting with image fragmentation. A highlight of the show is Phil/Manipulated (1984), a portrait of his friend, the avant-garde composer Philip Glass. Close's methodical and painstaking approach to the portrait, which was created from forming paper pulp into a half-inch grid framework, contrasts with the monochromatic tones and seemingly casual "snapshot" style. David Salle  a summer resident of the East End, often explores ambiguities and odd juxtapositions in his post-modern and surreal works. The exhibition will feature one of Salle's prints, High and Low (1994), which combines layers of appropriated images from American popular culture, advertising and mass media into striking patterns.

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