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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Parrish Museum of Art, Water Mill, NY

The new Parrish Museum of Art, Water Mill, New York.
From the road, Montauk Highway, Water Mill, New York, it doesn't look much like anyone's traditional idea of an art museum. It's 615 feet long and 95 feet wide. Even as one nears the entrance, the Parrish Museum of Art resembles nothing so much as a giant barn aimed at the mass feeding of livestock for market. Situated on the fourteen acre site of a former tree nursery, immediately adjacent to the Duck Walk Vineyards winery, even the setting suggests some type of agricultural enterprise. The original plan called for an $80 million village, encompassing a 62,974 square-foot museum, consisting of 30 modest, low-slung buildings, designed to resemble the studios of area painters. However, the financial crisis of 2007–08 forced the museum to dramatically downsized their undertaking to less than a third ($26.2 million) of the original budget. Thus, we see the gigantic barn with its 34,000 square feet and 6,000 square-foot porch.
Designed and built during a time when money was tight,
nothing was wasted of architectural frivolity.
Inside, the single-floor museum is structured quite simply, its public functions (reception area, gift shop, and café) to the west, administrative offices and art handling to the east, with seven galleries (housing the permanent collection), arrayed in two parallel bars, on either side of a central hall. Three additional galleries house temporary exhibitions. All of the galleries are illuminated by daylight, which shifts gradually throughout the day and changes with the seasons. The building is situated so it can catch the "Hamptons light" which is said to be a reason for the area's popularity as an artist colony. The new museum officially opened in November, 2012.
Even from the air, the Parrish Museum of Art (barn)
gives little indication of the fine art it houses.

The light and landscape have long drawn artists to the easternmost end of Long Island ever since a railroad extended its service to Southampton in 1870. The famed American impressionist painter, William Merritt Chase, first visited the area in 1878. He returned to established the Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art in 1891. It was the first such school in America devoted to plein-air painting. The Second World War saw the departure of many notable artists from Europe to the United States, and many of whom visited the East End. American artists of the New York School followed, such as Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, and Esteban Vicente. For the past 60 years, the East End has been home to a veritable pantheon of modern and contemporary artists, among them Fairfield Porter, Larry Rivers, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, Eric Fischl, and Dorothea Rockburne.

Inside, the museum dramatically reflects its outward structure.
Samuel Longstreth Parrish was born into a family of prominent Philadelphia Quakers. He was educated at Harvard, where he first developed his taste for Italian Renaissance art. Parrish began collecting seriously in the early 1880s, shortly after moving his successful law practice from Philadelphia to New York. During this time, he regularly visited his family home in Southampton. The village, then as now, was a popular summer resort. While traveling in Italy in the fall of 1896, Parrish decided to build a museum in Southampton to house his rapidly growing collection of Italian Renaissance art and reproductions of classical Greek and Roman statuary. He purchased a small parcel of land next to the Rogers Memorial Library on Jobs Lane. He commissioned a fellow Southampton resident, the architect Grosvenor Atterbury, to design a suitable structure. Trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Atterbury designed the museum over a period of nearly twenty years.
The original Parrish Museum of Art in Southampton, built and enlarged over the course of several years, mostly dated from around 1900.
The original Parrish Art Museum at Southampton (above) was a single, large, exhibition hall constructed of wood during the summer of 1897. A Concert Hall was added in 1905, and the wing to the street was constructed nine years later. An arboretum was laid out on the Museum’s grounds as well, by the well-known landscape architect Warren H. Manning. Parrish’s death in 1932, coupled with the Depression and the war years that followed, slowed developments at the Museum. In 1941, the Village of Southampton accepted the building, grounds, and founding collection as a gift from Parrish’s estate. As the 20th century wore on, by the mid-1980s it was clear that the Parrish had outgrown its original building, which lacked not only the basic infrastructure required by a professional museum, but also the space necessary to share its collection, as well as temporary exhibitions, with the public. In 2005 the Museum purchased fourteen acres in Water Mill, New York. The board of trustees selected the internationally celebrated architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron to design a new and expanded building there.
Perhaps as a result of cost-cutting early on, the museum
in no way competes visually with the art it houses.
The Museum’s holdings now consist of more than 2,600 works ranging from early 19th-century landscape paintings through American Impressionism into the 20th and 21st-centuries. In addition to names mentioned before, their collection includes such important artists as Childe Hassam, John Sloan, James McNeill Whistler, Dan Flavin, and John Chamberlain, as well as such members of the dynamic contemporary art scene as Ross Bleckner, Chuck Close, Elizabeth Peyton, Jack Youngerman, and Joe Tucker. The Parrish holds the largest public collection of William Merritt Chase (over 40 paintings and works on paper) including more than 1,000 photographs relating to the life and work of the artist. Their Fairfield Porter collection reflects the work of the most important American realist painter from 1949 until his death in 1975. These were also the years when Porter lived in Southampton. In 1979 his estate recognized the bond between the artist and the Museum by donating some 250 works to bolster the Parrish collection.
The Parrish permanent collection is marked by the work of
virtually every important artist to ever call Long Island home.
Maya Lin installation, a guest exhibition dating from 2014.
In foreground, Equator (2014),  Latitude New York City (2013), and
Arctic Circle (2013). On the wall, Pin River—Sandy (2013).


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