The Hamptons Art Scene

Exhibitions from Richard Avedon, Mary Heilmann, Clifford Ross, and a first U.S. survey of photorealism top the list.

Long Island’s East End has been a rich cultural community for decades, being home to marquee names since the abstract expressionists settled in the area in the 1950s. Inspired by the elements – magical light fused with an unfettered landscape surrounded by the Atlantic on one side and bay inlets on the other – artists often showed their work locally. In keeping with that tradition, must-see exhibitions are on view from long-time resident, multi-media artist Clifford Ross, the contemporary abstract painter Mary Heilmann, and Richard Avedon, who had a home in Sag Harbor and set-up location shoots at Deep Hollow Ranch in nearby Montauk. Prominently on display is the game changing technology transforming photography through digital and computer-generated imagery altering one’s perceptions and leading to question what is real and what is imagined.

Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton

Avedon’s America spans fifty years and takes a fresh look at this iconic 20th century photographer who dazzled the world with his fashion photography in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and later held a long tenure at The New Yorker. Avedon was equally lauded for advertising campaigns for clients Calvin Klein, Versace and Revlon, among others, eventually moving beyond fashion to explore the possibilities of the genre seeking out provocative subjects.

Richard Avedon, Malcolm X, civil rights leader, New York, March 27, 1963

The exhibition covers the later half of the twentieth century from the Civil and Women Rights movements, the Vietnam War, notable public and cultural figures, and the disparate groups who made up the changing political and societal landscape that reshaped American life.

Richard Avedon, Santa Monica Beach #4, September 30, 1963

Avedon developed stark white, minimalist large-scale format photographs that laid bare the subject’s inner life, vulnerability, and humanity, a marked departure from the vacant stare of models in staged settings. Quite a few photographs will surprise: a carefree, letting loose Marian Anderson; Malcolm X’s prominent features heightened adding to his already powerful countenance; a young James Baldwin, a high school colleague and Avedon’s co-editor of Magpie; Ronald Fischer, President of the Illinois State’s Beekeeper Association; Bill O’Reilly and a playful Jon Stewart; and the Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a priceless take on a dying breed.

Richard Avedon, The Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution, October 15, 1963

In a headshot of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton photographed before his death in 2004, Avedon reverted to a black background showing these powerful figures coming out from the shadows. Through October 9, 2018,

Dan Flavin Art Institute, Bridgehampton

Mary Heilmann: Paintings

 A native Californian, during Mary Heilmann’s early New York years the artist gravitated to the Minimalist and Postminimalist art world. Chief among her influences were Dan Flavin and Donald Judd (both are closely associated with Dia, the show’s organizers) although her work was never derivative, she carefully carving out her own niche in a crowded male arena.

Mary Heilmann, Ray, 2017

The exhibition of seven paintings were selected from pivotal points in her life: Heilmann’s arrival in New York City in the late 1960s; setting up her studio on the East End in the 1980s; and recent works never before on public display. Known for her playful use of color – a nod to Pop Art culture – the layered geometric shapes are vibrant, lively, and gorgeous. A small group of ceramics is on view as well. Through May 27, 2018,

Mary Heilmann, Red Metric, 2015

Parrish Art Museum, Watermill

Light l Waves

 The Herzog and de Meuron designed building is a fine setting for multi-media artist Clifford Ross’s site-specific mixed media installations, a project initiated under Parrish Platforms. Since the 1990s Ross has been at the forefront of innovation in new media when he invented the R1 high-resolution camera. He continues to be first in developing new printing techniques that he applied in producing both installations.

 Digital Waves is computer-generated; a 3D world virtual ocean allowing the viewer to become immersed into the crashing waves and bearing witness to the ebb and flow tension of the water against the land. Enhancing the experience is an illuminated 18 x18 LED wall in the lobby and by two 50 feet wide LED walls on the building’s exterior facing Montauk Highway.

 Hurricane Waves on Wood (part of Ross’s Hurricane Waves series) features a triptych of black and white photographs printed directly onto matching maple veneer wood applying cured ultra violet ink before using a commercial printer. The waves overwhelming force is heightened due to size, each of three sections is 12 x 9; and by Ross’s brazen up close shots of actual storms off the coast of Long Island. Through October 15, 2017

From Lens To Hand To Eye: Photorealism 1969 To Today

Terrie Sultan, the Museum’s Director, organized a brilliant survey, the first in the U.S. Featuring 73 paintings and works on paper featuring maverick artists who countered the “isms” (Conceptual, Minimal) as well as Pop Art and Performance Art returning to representational art. According to Ms. Sultan, hallmarks of photorealism can be summed up in three words: “intimacy, luminosity, and immediacy.”

Richard Estes, Empire Hotel, 1987

Photorealism is often laden with mass-size cultural/consumer icons documenting a slice of Americana from city street scenes to panoramic vistas to classic cars, trucks, motorcycles, diners, neon lights to kitsch.

Working from digital photographs or film, the photorealist paints in bright colors and hard edges usually reflecting light off chrome fenders.  There are many high quality works; favorites:  Richard Estes, Hotel Empire, Audrey Flack, Wheel of Fortune (1977-78) Richard Griewek’s Cheyenne Diner (2015), Yigal Ozeri, Untitled Territory (2012,) Richard McLean Western Tableau with Rhodesian Ridgeback (Trail West) 1993.

Through January 21, 2018,                                                                    

 Photos in order:

Opening Photo:  Clifford Ross, Wave LIV (Wood), triptych, 2015. Photo: Clifford Ross Studio. Parrish Art Museum

Guild Hall

Malcolm X, civil rights leader, New York, March 27, 1963

Santa Monica Beach #4, September 30, 1963

The Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Convention, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C., October 15, 1963

Photographs by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Dan Flavin Art Institute

Mary Heilmann, Ray, 2017. © Mary Heilmann. Photo: Thomas Müller. Courtesy of the artist, 303 Gallery, New York, and Hauser & Wirth

Mary Heilmann, Red Metric, 2015. © Mary Heilmann. Photo: Thomas  Müller. Courstesy of the artist, 303 Gallery, New York and Hauser & Wirth

Parrish Art Museum

Richard Estes, Empire Hotel, 1987. Louis K. Meisel Collection

About Tamara Moscowitz (11 Articles)
Tamara Moscowitz is a writer on art, design, and home décor for digital and print media. Starting out as a features writer for Florida Designers Review and Florida Design she transitioned to online magazines that include, designintell/, and Currently, in addition to contributing articles to Woman Around Town she also writes for She was Founder and Managing Editor of “The Jewish Experience,” a magazine published under the auspices of the Center for Jewish History one of several undertakings as director of communications. As a book publicist she freelanced at Harcourt, among others, planning press and publicity activities for foreign authors. Her long association with PEN American Center, the international writers organization involved fundraising events and marketing literary forums.