Riding a wave of action that has swelled as New York art dealers and the collectors they court situate themselves for the summer in the Hamptons, Michael Werner Gallery has signed a lease for a new space in Long Island with plans to open next week. What used to be a Warby Parker glasses store in downtown East Hampton will instead play home to artworks in an opening exhibition titled “Polke, Picabia and Friends”—with work by German painter Sigmar Polke, French Dadaist Francis Picabia, and other figures from their respective orbits.
“It’s sort of a thing,” gallery partner Gordon VeneKlasen said of new pop-up operations in the seaside idyll of Long Island’s East End, where others include Pace, Skarstedt, and Van de Weghe (all in East Hampton, along with an outpost of Sotheby’s) as well as Hauser & Wirth in Southampton and South Etna Montauk, a newly announced space in a quaint cottage to be run by husband-and-wife dealers Amalia Dayan and Adam Lindemann. “But there is a real community out here,” VeneKlasen said, “and it’ll be interesting to see how it all works.”
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The decision for Michael Werner Gallery owes to a strong preference for IRL over the URL. “I’m only good with the analog, not the digital,” VeneKlasen said. “I’m glad that Sotheby’s had their incredible [online] sale, but, you know, our business is really talking about art and talking to artists—in front of art. That’s what I’m hoping this will allow, given the situation.”
The first show in a space with a lease signed through December is still taking shape. (“Polke really loved Picabia,” VeneKlasen said, “and then there are figures like Enrico David who connect to both.”) And then the rest will be improvised. “I’m going change shows out pretty quickly and just see how it goes. We’re really making it up as we go along.”
Of operating alongside other galleries in a new makeshift East Hampton gallery district, VeneKlasen said a spirit of camaraderie is already present. “We’re going to stay in close touch and keep it collegial,” he said of collective conversations with Pace and others that have so far included the prospect of possibly staying open for Friday evening gallery walks and other cooperative endeavors. “We’re going to try and be nimble and change things out and work with different people. It seems like a time to try and make community, rather than separate.”