Can the Hamptons Handle an Upscale Art Fair? The Bridge, With David Zwirner and Other Star Dealers, Will Give It a Try

The Bridge wants to crack the tricky Hamptons market.

The Bridge auto show 2016. Photo: Michael Shaffer of Capital Sunset Photography.

Add one more to a list of ambitious new events hoping to make Long Island’s East End forget all about the void of Art Hamptons and Art Southampton this summer.

The latest fair to sprout up in the tony seaside resort destination is The Bridge, named after the exclusive golf club that is set to host the event September 16–17. In a novel twist, the twin-pronged event will showcase both blue-chip artwork and classic cars. The fair itself will boast an impressive lineup of galleries: Canada, Karma, David Kordansky Gallery, Marlborough Contemporary, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, and David Zwirner have all signed on for the show.

Speaking to artnet News, organizers Max Levai and Pascal Spengemann of Marlborough Contemporary explained that participants were still deciding what to show. “They’re still devising their plans right now,” Levai said.

The idea for the fair came after Levai visited the Bridge’s annual auto show last year. “I had such a great time and I was really impressed with how [Bridge owner] Bob Rubin organized it,” Levai said. “The art component is in its inaugural year, and will take place simultaneously as the car component, which is in its second year.”

Each of the six galleries will present works in specially modified double-wide shipping containers designed by artist and designer Lars Fisk. The galleries will also install outdoor sculptures around the club grounds. “Lars has done quite a bit with architecture, not just freestanding sculpture but also working with modular structures,” Spengemann explained. “He came to us with a design for a really spectacular structure that was beyond our expectations. It has special skylights in it, and it is this great mixture between a reused container and a really considered architectural space.”

A mock-up of Lars Fisk’s container-based outdoor booths. Photo: courtesy of The Bridge.

Meanwhile, car buffs can get their fix at the adjacent exhibition of classic Post-war sport and competition cars. The event will offer food and drinks, and a program of performances by artists and musicians.

Of course, those perks tie into the fair’s ultimate goal: sales.

“We haven’t used the word art fair, it’s absolutely a selling event and we expect to do so, but the experience is quite different than what you expect when you hear the word ‘art fair,'” Spengemann said. “It’s not an enclosed space, it’s much more connected to an overall outdoor experience, and the extended component of the car show and this dramatic surrounding landscape, but work is for sales, absolutely.”

Levai and Spengemann hope that a more laid-back, event-driven format can convert visitor numbers into actual sales, a problem that some previous Hamptons-based fairs were not always able to solve. But the organizers are confident that The Bridge will be commercially viable for galleries. “I don’t really think there’s much of a connection between what were doing and the past models in the Hamptons,” Levai insisted. “It’s an outdoor weekend in one of the most beautiful places in New York state, and we think it has the potential to work really well for the galleries that participate. We expect to see the familiar faces that support our gallery throughout the year, and we expect lots of new people who are coming to the event from the car sector.”


The Bridge runs September 16–17, 2017, at The Bridge golf club, Bridgehampton, NY.

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