New Home for the Parrish Art Museum

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LAST FRIDAY, having spent a couple of days in my adopted community of Springs (East Hampton), N.Y., and filled with Long Island pride, I resolved to stop at the Parrish Art Museum on my way back to the city. I’d been sucking up a lot of received opinion (overwhelmingly positive) since the contemporary art museum opened in its long-awaited new digs last November, and I wanted to see for myself.

I liked it, too. The museum relocated from its former cramped quarters in a Victorian brick building in the Village of Southampton to a startlingly elongated shed-like structure with a double hipped roof, set in a vineyard off Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Just looking from the outside at the 34,000-square-foot museum, designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, was enough to give me “museum legs” (that tired feeling you sometimes get from schlepping around looking at art), but in fact, its galleries comprise only 12,000 square feet and are so stimulating and open that it wasn’t fatiguing at all.

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I found the art bracing, including the many abstract works, though my conservative preference is for local landscapes and paintings by realist Fairfield Porter and American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. The Parrish has extensive holdings of both in its permanent collection, and each has a dedicated gallery.

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Howard Kanovitz’s airbrushed 1974 Hamptons Drive-In is easy enough to appreciate.

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Local artist April Gornick’s 1984 Light Before Heat puts me very much in mind of my beloved Louse Point and Accobonac Harbor.

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Fairfield Porter’s depiction of rural Calverton, L.I., in the 1950s.

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With a pleasant cafe overlooking the grape arbors and an easy-to-swallow admission fee of $10, the Parrish is well worth the stop, coming or going.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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3 Responses to New Home for the Parrish Art Museum

  1. Terry says:

    I like it, looks like it could have been there a long time.

    Down here we’d mistake if for a chicken factory without the small feed silos. There are a lot of these down here and they are actually impressive sharp vernacular shapes rising from the countryside.

    “Museum legs” are related to “mall legs.” I’ve got ’em right now. Bigger museums are always exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally, just like malls.

    Is this Long Island new urbanism?

  2. cara says:

    Hi Terry, great to hear from you :-) I see the resemblance to those chicken factories. I wonder if the fancy Swiss architecture firm was familiar with them? To answer your new urbanism question seriously (even though I don’t think you meant it in that vein), no, I don’t think so. Isn’t new urbanism an attempt to bring the positives of the city to outlying areas? This building plays on what’s left of its rural surroundings– seems quite the opposite of new urbanism. More like new ruralism.

  3. segmation says:

    What nice digital shots on your blog. I also admire William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter paintings. Thanks for including him in your blog.

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