This fall, The Heckscher Museum of Art
is presenting an exhibition that celebrates the rich, yet untold role of Huntington and the North Shore of Long Island in American art.
This project really began shortly after my arrival at The Heckscher in August 2005, The Heckschers Chief Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Kenneth Wayne said. During my first months at The Heckscher, I heard stories of the famous artists who had lived and/or worked in the Huntington area, including Louis Comfort Tiffany, Arthur Dove and George Grosz. Soon the list began to grow: Edward Steichen, John Marin, Irving Penn, Cindy Sherman and, most remarkably, Fernand Léger. Surprisingly, this impressive chapter of art history had never been explored and recorded for posterity. An exhibition was born, and we are thrilled to finally present it this fall.
For more than a century, Long Island has attracted and inspired innovative artists of the highest caliber who have created groundbreaking works of enduring importance. While the art produced on Long Islands East End has been well documented, the artistic history of Huntington and the North Shore is less known. This exhibition will focus on the history of the fine arts on the North Shore during the twentieth century, starting with Edward Steichen, who stayed on the Conklin estate in Huntington during summers between 1902 and 1910. A short time later, the modernist painters Arthur Dove and Helen Torr moved to the area, living and working here for decades. Other painters with significant Huntington connections include George Grosz-- who lived in Huntington for over ten years following World War II and taught at The Heckscher Museum--as well as John Marin, and Jules Olitski. Collagist Ray Johnson, sculptor Seymour Lipton, and painter/sculptor Esphyr Slobodkina lived and worked in the area as well, producing captivating works of great importance. In the fields of architecture and the decorative arts, Louis Comfort Tiffany designed and built Laurelton Hall (1904), an 84-room mansion overlooking Cold Spring Harbor, and between 1919 and 1933 the Tiffany Foundation offered on-site fellowships to deserving artists. Wallace K. Harrison, the architect of Rockefeller Center and the United Nations, built himself an International Style home in the West Hills area of Huntington, attracting artists such as Fernand Léger.
Léger painted two murals with free-floating figures at the Harrison residencea large one in the living room (now at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany) and another in the swimming pool (no longer extant)and created a skylight for the foyer as well. The painter Fritz Glarner and sculptor Mary Callery were in Harrisons Huntington circle as well. Glarner was a protégé of Mondrian and had many important commissions in New York for buildings such as the United Nations. Callery, a now forgotten yet highly accomplished sculptor with works in the collections of the National Gallery and Metropolitan Museum of Art, was also a world-class collector who hung works by Picasso and Léger in her Huntington studio.
Fashion photographers Horst P. Horst and Irving Penn lived in the Huntington area, Horst on property once belonging to the Tiffany estate and Penn in the West Hills area, where he produced his famous platinum palladium prints. Photographer Cindy Sherman was raised in Huntington, developing her aesthetic from her suburban upbringing.
Long Island Moderns showcases approximately 50 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and drawings.
This exhibition was organized by Dr. Kenneth Wayne, Chief Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, and Assistant Curator Lisa Chalif.