Don't believe it when you hear there's only one art fair in The Hamptons this summer. There are actually three. Flying in the face of the notion that art collectors aren't buying enough art to support viable Hamptons art fairs, three art fairs are returning to present expanded editions.
The lineup is Market Art + Design (July 5 to 8, 2018); the Upstairs Art Fair (July 13 - 15, 2018) and The Bridge (September 14 - 16, 2018). Market Art + Design adds an additional 10 exhibitors for 2018, building upon last year's expansion. The more intimate Upstairs Art Fair and The Bridge have also both expanded for 2018 with Upstairs Art Fair boosting its gallery rooster from 12 to 14 and The Bridge doubling the number of exhibitors from 6 to 12 galleries.
Surprised? Didn't know there continues to be three art fairs to choose from? First, a bit of back story.
When Art Hamptons and Art Southampton decided to pull up stakes and forgo The Hamptons two years ago, the word was there was a dearth of art collectors buying art. Or, at least art collectors willing to buy art in The Hamptons in the summer. Market Art + Design, one of the trio of traditional art fairs that competed against each other in a two-week span each July, decided to remain steady. The fair opens its eighth edition this week beneath a white tented pavilion in a return to the Bridgehampton Historical Society grounds on Main Street in Bridgehampton, NY.
In the wake of the two art fairs quitting the scene, two things happened: First, there was a realization that at least some of The Hamptons art-interested population wanted art fairs, based on murmurs uttered at cocktail parties, artist gatherings and among some gallerists, both in the area and far and wide. Then, running with this realization—as well as the thought there might still be art sales to make—two new fairs popped up to fill the gap: The Upstairs Art Fair and The Bridge.
Taking the lessons of Art Southampton and Art Hamptons to heart, both unveiled fairs that veered from the traditional art fair presentation and captured different ends of the art collecting experience in distinct settings. The two new art fairs also both opted to offer small, intimate affairs instead of sprawling ones set in pavilions. The Upstairs Art Fair debuted in 2017 with 12 galleries while The Bridge presented six galleries from New York (Marlborough Contemporary, Mitchell-Innes + Nash, David Zwirner, Karma, Canada and David Koransky Gallery) in its inaugural edition in 2017.
The Upstairs Art Fair embraced The Hamptons beach culture and went casual in its presentation. Set in a converted barn that formerly housed an art school and ceramic studio, the Upstairs Art Fair offers no glitz or sparkling Champagne or jewelry, no glistening luxury automobiles parked invitingly in front of the entrance and no admission. Instead, galleries from mostly Downtown New York City were paired with a handful of East Hampton, NY galleries and presented edgy contemporary art in a salon setting. Art sold.
The Bridge went upscale and appealed directly to the privileged class by offering an art fair paired with a classic car event that debuted the year before. Held at the exclusive Golf at The Bridge private club in Bridgehampton, NY, the art fair was open by invitation only while the classic car event had public hours. Art sold.
This year, all three art fairs return with expanded editions, providing a different kind of art fair season for The Hamptons. Departing from the last five years or so when a trio of white tented art fairs went head to head, the current Hamptons art fair landscape has more room for art collectors to breathe. Like last year, the three Hamptons art fairs have distinct vibes and settings that differ radically from one to the next.
ART MARKET + DESIGN
First up is Art Market + Design. Presenting its eighth edition from July 5 - 9, 2018 in Bridgehampton, NY, the art fair returns to present its largest art fair to date, adding around 10 exhibitors above its expanded version in 2017. The change is apparent from the outside with the white pavilion providing a commanding presences on the Bridgehampton Historical Society. The VIP Party is held Thursday, July 5, 2018 from 6 to 10 p.m. for VIP cardholders. Expect a crowd and plenty of traffic. Click here for the exhibitor list and fair details.
"The growth of the fair to me is directly correlated with the strength of the Hamptons' market place and collecting community," Market Art + Design Director Kelly Freedman wrote in an email. "This year looks to be the fair's largest and most important to date. With 80 top galleries from around the world and a striking design component featuring some of the industry's top makers, Market Art + Design 2018 is absolutely a can't miss event of the Hamptons summer season."
UPSTAIRS ART FAIR
Upstairs Art Fair is up next and presents its laid-back fair from July 13 to 15, 2018 in Amagansett, NY. A VIP Preview from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, July 13, 2018 followed by the fair's opening from 6 to 8 p.m. The gallery mix for 2018 sees most galleries returning (Karma and James Fuentes opted not to return) and picks up four new exhibitors: Eric Firestone Gallery (East Hampton & New York); Nino Mier Gallery (Los Angeles) plus Nicelle Beauchene and 56 Henry from New York City. Click here for the exhibitor list and fair details.
“The decision to do another edition of the Upstairs Art Fair this year was a no-brainer after the success of our inaugural," art fair organizer and half gallery director Bill Powers wrote in an email. "The only question was would we get the same red barn in Amagansett this time around, which gratefully we did. I’m excited to invite a few new galleries out to the East End for the first time like Nino Mier from Los Angeles and Nicelle Beauchene from the city."
"Last summer we had such terrific foot traffic with artists like Cindy Sherman and Rashid Johnson stopping by as well as curators from The Whitney," he continued. "I know half gallery will be bringing art from recent MFA graduates from Yale and UCLA which is exciting as it will be the first time they’ve shown in a fair setting.”
Wrapping up the Hamptons art fair season is The Bridge. The invite-only art fair returns to present its second edition September 14-18, 2018 at the exclusive Golf at the Bridge private golf club in Bridgehampton, NY. Doubling its exhibitor list from six to 12, art fair organizer Max Levai of Marlborough Contemporary said in a phone interview. Details are due to be announced later this week, he said.
Paired with a car exhibition, The Bridge brings together around 60 post-wars sports cars and racing vehicles presented on the lush grounds of the golf club. "Cars and Coffee" on September 16, 2018 at the Bridgehampton Historical Society is open to the public. Click here for details.
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