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LongHouse Opens Its Doors

Mon, 05/22/2023 - 15:57
Visitors to East Hampton's LongHouse Reserve will be able to see far more than the gardens this year, with portions of the house open and a new exhibition by Object & Thing. Jack Lenor Larsen, the founder of LongHouse Reserve, who died in 2020, planned the gardens and the residence based on a Japanese temple.
Photos Courtesy of LongHouse Reserve

LongHouse Reserve will open "A Summer Arrangement: Object & Thing at LongHouse" beginning Saturday in East Hampton and running through Sept. 3. The installation will take over the ground floor gallery and the guest level of the house.

Carrie Barratt, the director of LongHouse, worked with a group that included the co-curators of the show -- Glenn Adamson, curator at large for LongHouse, and Abby Bangser, the founder of Object & Thing -- and Colin King, the installation designer.

Object & Thing was first launched as a single exhibition in New York City but has since become a traveling program of site-specific installations in houses owned by architects and designers. Ms. Bangser's focus is on works "existing at the intersection between art and design." Some might recall the program's recent visit at the Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack. It has begun representing artists in this specialized realm as well, some of whom are participating in this show. The artists include Megumi Shauna Arai, Kiva Motnyk, Johnny Ortiz-Concha, Frances Palmer, and Yoichi Shiraishi.

"I am continually inspired by the process of organizing exhibitions in artists' homes, and LongHouse exemplifies living with objects of art in all forms," said Ms. Bangser, who is also a former director of the Frieze Art Fairs.

The art in this exhibition was inspired by the house, which was designed by LongHouse's founder, Jack Lenor Larsen, who died in 2020. There will be pieces from Larsen's collection in the mix.

Mr. Adamson, who is also an adviser to Object & Thing, noted that "Larsen was a master of the subtle art of arrangement. The objects in his collection were in perpetual motion, constantly finding new adjacencies. In a sense, this project simply continues that practice, while also giving an impression of what Larsen might be looking at and collecting if he were still with us today."  

Wall works will be contributed by artists such as Ms. Arai, Liz Collins, Wyatt Kahn (whose sculptures are on view in the garden), Ms. Motnyk, and Sam Moyer. Simone Bodmer-Turner's wall pieces will incorporate reeds found near her studio in the Berkshires. 

There will be ceramic pieces by Julia Chiang, Laird Gough, Rashid Johnson, Jennifer Lee, Raina Lee, Mr. Ortiz-Concha, and Ms. Palmer. Luck Carpentry has contributed a wind chime to the gallery space. Larsen's Magnum, a 1970 fabric design, will be part of the installation, covering a guest bed and showing its influence on other artists' works displayed in that room. 

Inspired by the house and Larsen's collections, the objects on view will use materials that Larsen, who was a fabric designer, made or collected, including ceramics, fiber, glass, metal, and wood. As the organizers note, Larsen liked to blend his collection in a way that ignored hierarchies, and they have highlighted this approach in their installation.

LongHouse, which was completed in 1992, is an object lesson in how to live with art and material culture. Its shape was inspired by a seventh-century Shinto shrine. Charles Forberg, the house's architect, worked closely with Larsen on its design.

Its guest level will be open to exploration by the public, and for the first time to most visitors. Larsen said on many occasions, and demonstrated in his book "Learning From LongHouse," that objects placed in a dynamic setting would teach us more than seeing them placed statically in a museum display or on a page. He set fruit-filled ceramic bowls on Wharton Esherick tables and put shells and seeds in African baskets, blending worldly and local things, making them his own.

Mr. King used Larson's collection of Esherick furniture, such as a dining table seen at the 1939 World's Fair, as surfaces in his design of the space. Teague's Path, under the direction of Teague Costello, has provided additional platforms and surfaces.

"It is exhilarating to have such an illustrious group of international contemporary artists and designers think about Jack Lenor Larsen's work and LongHouse as inspiration for their creative enterprise," Ms. Barratt said. "Larsen liked to say that his work would never be done and meant for his arrangements to be carried on by artists who would be inspired by his collections and home."

The art, which will be for sale, will benefit LongHouse with a portion of the proceeds. The show will be open on Saturdays and Sundays.

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