Thanksgiving Visit to the Parrish Art Museum
The Parrish Art Museum, the fine arts collection in the Hamptons, is a celebration of the colony of artists living and creating in eastern Long Island. Its one-year-old building is designed to look like a converted barn filled with natural light. As the collections in the Parrish reflect the artists from the East End, the design of the museum was influenced by the area as well. The building is the crown jewel of the collection.
Originally a tree nursery, the land was designed by Herzog and de Meuron from Basel, Switzerland. The partners are very engaged with living artists and have designed many artist’s studios, so they understood the notion of a creative community. As part of their research, the team visited many local artists studios, including Chuck Close, Eric Fischl and Julian Schnabel. As they drove around exploring they also noticed the vernacular architecture of the East End which has to do with agriculture – concrete potato barns with corrugated aluminum roofs, rows of neatly planted corn, and old farmhouses set back from the highway.
One of the most important design aspects of the project was the sky, so the building was made low and gentle in the landscape with lots of skylights. There are places where you can see all the way through the building. There are only five elements in the building: wood, steel, concrete, glass and aluminum. And four colors: black, white, gray and brown.
The collection starts in the late 19th-century with William Merritt Chase. There are certain artists that the museum collects in depth, like Chase, as well as Fairfield Porter and Esteban Vicente. Their works clearly reflect the beauty and influence of the Hamptons landscape. Here are some of my favorites.
This is Jennifer Bartlett’s Amagansett Diptyque #1 from 2007. From far away, it is clearly the shoreline with cross hatching that looks thick and three dimensional, but up close it is actually perfectly smooth.
The Parrish Art Museum is open year round in Water Mill, NY. Admission is $10, and is a great activity in the winter when it’s too cold to go to the beach, or in the summer on a rainy day. It’s also a lovely spot to grab and coffee and a snack from the lovely cafe and sit outside in the sunshine.