When the pandemic hit in 2020, some members of the New York elite fled Manhattan for the Hamptons. The art world followed them there in the summer afterward, opening up outposts and shipping out art. In the time since then, some galleries, like Van de Weghe, have closed up shop. Yet other spaces are here to stay.
Dealer Max Levai, formerly of Marlborough Gallery, opened a gallery known as the Ranch last summer. He’s spent the off season continuing repairs and renovations, and is this summer preparing to open two shows: one devoted to Werner Büttner that traveled from the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Germany, the other a show of Frank Stella’s sculptures. Both kick off this May.
“Frank’s been really interested in the idea of showcasing some monumental sculptures that span his practice from 1993 to present,” said Levai in an interview with ARTnews. “Out of the four sculptures we’re showing outdoors, one of them has never been exhibited outside his studio because it’s just so massive.”
That never-before-seen work is The Cabin, Ahab, & Pip (1993) made from stainless and carbon steel that are fashioned into long jagged sheets that seem to explode out of a boxy structure. Rising nearly 21 feet high, it contains nautical themes that reflect the whaling history of Montauk, and Levai is interested in curating works that bring out the town’s long history.
“Being out East is very practical,” Levai said. “It’s very conducive to building a community and audience around our programming. But the gallery here is more a reaction specifically to the history of this this property that I immersed myself in and fell in love with.”
The Ranch, which is located on a functioning horse farm, will host these large pieces on its grounds, and inside a barn that acts as an exhibition space, more selections from Stella’s long and prolific career will be on view.
Other exciting artists will be showing in institutions across the East End. On May 22, the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill will open “Set It Off,” a group show co-curated by the married duo Raquel Chevremont and Mickalene Thomas that will include Torkwase Dyson, Leilah Babirye, and Kennedy Yanko. Artists Pamela Council and Hank Willis Thomas will also be showing at the Parrish in the show “Another Justice: Us Is Them,” opening July 24.
Beyond the Parrish, Cory Arcangel will have a solo show at Lisson Gallery’s East Hampton that opens on May 26th, and Hauser & Wirth plans to reopen in Southampton, although it has not revealed programming yet. The Church, a space run by the married artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik, is also returning the summer with more a docket of shows.
In another sign of Levai’s long-term commitment, the dealer said he is planning to host a residency at the Ranch. Though planning is still in its infancy, Levai is hoping that by next winter an artist will be making works on the grounds.
For the Ranch’s inaugural show Virginia Overton exhibited a work Untitled (chime) (2021) that inspired the residency. “We weren’t sure at first [that the Ranch would be a good fit for a residency program] but Virginia Overton showed a work here that was meant to be exhibited inside but we ended up showing it outside,” said Levai. “It became clear that this was a good space for artists to develop work from scratch and really take advantage of the setting.”
The artists who end up setting up their studio at the Ranch may be in good company, as it is rumored that David Zwirner is planning on launching a residency in Montauk as well.