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by Judy Rey Wasserman

The art market arrived in the Hamptons on July 10th at the first-ever ArtHamptons fair. The fair, which was held through the 13th in four giant, climate controlled modular buildings in Bridgehampton attracted 5,000 visitors, according to Executive Director Rick Friedman.

The fair featured over 100 million dollars worth of art from 55 New York and London galleries. Competition to participate in the fair was fierce, according to Friedman, with the selection committee accepting less than half of the galleries who applied. Works offered at the fair ranged from the late 19th century to the present, with the tendency towards works by blue chip artists including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

ArtHamptons kicked off on Thursday evening with an Opening Gala to benefit the American Heart Association that included a VIP preview and presentation of the first ever Hamptons Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts to painter and printmaker Will Barnet. Other benefits were held each night of the fair, as well as daytime auctions, which raised a total of $50,000 for several different charities.

Business was brisk throughout the weekend, as red and green dots appeared alongside many works. Top sales included Flywheelsonata, 2007, by John Chamberlain, sold by Mark Borghi Fine Art for $1 million; and three works by Andrew Wyeth, sold for $900,000, $850,000 and $325,000 by Peter Marcelle Contemporary.

The strength of the market was noted by many, including Gary Snyder of Gary Snyder ProjectSpace who commented, "It was a surprisingly good fair for a first time fair. We sold three paintings from the booth and met some really wonderful new clients." In total, approximately 25 million dollars in art changed hands, according to fair organizers.

The fair also featured lectures and panels led by industry experts. One panel on collecting, moderated by Helen A. Harrison, Director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, included noted collectors Ron Delsner, Henry Buhl, Larry Dubin and Michael Zenft. Another panel discussion devoted to how collectors can profitably use the Internet featured Miriam Tucker of Rago Arts + Auction Center and artnet.com’s President Bill Fine.

On the curatorial side, Guild Hall’s Christina Strassfield gave a talk on the upcoming Larry Rivers exhibit. Klaus Kertess participated in another panel discussion, moderated by artist Audrey Flack.

The attention attracted by the ArtHamptons fair underscores the Hamptons’ emerging role as a summer haven for the artworld cognoscenti. "It’s staggering to think that we are 60 feet from a potato field, selling Warhols and Jasper Johnses," said Friedman. Hamptons native Gavin Spanierman, Director of Spanierman Modern echoed, "Previously we had great artists, but people here didn’t care; now I think that’s changing. There are a lot of serious collectors here."

The Hamptons summer international art scene continues with more parties, benefits, exhibit openings and Scope Hamptons, another annual international art fair that returns for the fourth time this year running from July 24 to the 27 2008.

Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art Theory.

John Chamberlain
Flywheelsonata, 2007
Painted and chrome steel
35 x 55 x 33 inches
Image courtesy of Mark Borghi Gallery

Julia Fullerton-Batten
Beach Houses, 2005
Lambda print
40 inches x 54 inches
Image courtesy of Jenkins Johnson Gallery

Will Barnet
The Purple Robe, 2000
Oil on canvas
23 x 20 inches
Image courtesy Harmon-Meek Gallery

Childe Hassam
Golf in Early Spring..., 1931
Oil on Canvas
25 3/4 inches x 42 3/4 inches
Image courtesy of Wally Findlay Gallery