Elaine De Kooning House And Studio Nominated To State, National Registers Of Historic Places - 27 East

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Elaine De Kooning House And Studio Nominated To State, National Registers Of Historic Places

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The Elaine de Kooning House and Studio.

The Elaine de Kooning House and Studio.

The East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

The East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton house and studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once lived and worked.

Inside the East Hampton house and studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once lived and worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton house and studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once lived and worked.

Inside the East Hampton house and studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once lived and worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Inside the East Hampton studio where abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning once worked.

Sophie Griffin on Jan 11, 2022

Artist homes, much like their inhabitants, tend toward the unique.

Salvador Dalí stuffed his labyrinthine abode in Portlligat, Spain — which was originally a fisherman’s hut — with taxidermy. Frida Kahlo’s “La Casa Azul” just outside Mexico City was, well, very blue. There, she famously adorned her headboard with portraits of prominent communist leaders, like Lenin, Marx and Mao, among other political idols and loved ones.

With its rich legacy as an art colony, the East End has its fair share of artist homes and studios, too — from the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in Springs to Eothen, formerly the estate of Andy Warhol, in Montauk.

And now, Elaine de Kooning — a significant female abstract expressionist who worked in East Hampton for 14 years, marking the longest period she ever spent in one studio — is getting her due.

Last month, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended adding the Elaine de Kooning House and Studio to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The East Hampton property joins 20 others in the nomination, which not only recognizes these landmarks as historic, but also ensures that resources are available for maintaining and revitalizing them, including grants and tax credits.

Listings on the National and State Registers are known to draw tourism, as well, and New York State alone has over 120,000 historic properties on the National Register.

“New York is home to so many historic gems of industry and culture, and through these nominations, those places can truly be recognized,” Hochul said in a statement. “By including them in the historic registers, it ensures resources are available to maintain these meaningful reminders of the past. New York is a global spot for tourism and bringing awareness to these 21 places will help draw even more visitors for years to come.”

The Elaine de Kooning House and Studio, located at 55 Alewive Brook Road, sits on just over 1 acre of land tucked in the Northwest Woods. The artist bought the simple saltbox in 1975 and, within a few years, added a sunroom and studio. There, she created two of her most important late bodies of work — the “Bacchus” series from 1976 to 1983, and “Cave Paintings” from 1983 to 1986.

The latter helped her achieve some of the widest recognition in her career, according to the nomination paperwork.

“‘High Wall,’ a triptych in this series, is considered by many to be her masterpiece,” it states. “After her move to East Hampton, Elaine’s work continued to be held in high demand by museums and galleries, was acclaimed during her lifetime, and had a significant impact on her contemporaries.”

Considered a member of the “first generation” of female abstract expressionist painters, de Kooning was a player in the New York School alongside her more celebrated male contemporaries, including Mark Rothko, Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock, as well as her husband, Willem de Kooning. The couple separated in 1957 and, while they reconciled in 1975, they maintained separate houses. Even though Willem de Kooning, who lived in Springs, spent time at his wife’s home, he did not create any art there.

By the time Elaine de Kooning purchased the East Hampton property, she was already well known in the art world, giving her the means to transform her new house into her ideal artistic workspace. Architect Hans Noe designed the large open studio and loft, as well as a hyphen that connected the studio to the house, allowing for easy movement between them, according to the nomination paperwork.

During her time in East Hampton, de Kooning experimented with new themes and series, and explored abstractions on portraiture. She painted portraits of Brazilian soccer star Pele and music producer Berry Gordy, and is known for her portraits of President John F. Kennedy — which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery — Frank O’Hara, Merce Cunningham, Fairfield Porter, Allen Ginsberg, and others.

As a member of the Eighth Street Club in Manhattan, de Kooning ran in the same circles as her abstract expressionist contemporaries and wrote extensively about art as an editorial associate for Art News magazine, which published about 100 of her articles. On February 1, 1989, de Kooning died at Southampton Hospital, a year after she had a lung removed due to cancer. She was 70 — though some media reported she was 68; de Kooning later claimed she was born in 1920, not 1918.

After her death, her home and studio changed hands a few times — first purchased by sculptor John Chamberlain, who sold to painter Richmond Burton. In 2010, its current owner, artist Chris Byrne, bought the house, who runs what he calls an “informal” artist residency there.

Over the past decade, dozens of artists including Josephine Meckseper, Lonnie Holley, and Joe Bradley have settled into the sunlit space de Kooning once called home, creating under the large, north-facing windows — just as she did.

“There is this, I would say, this unquantifiable energy in the house — in terms of the people who have been there and the people who come to visit us now, who have been inspired by Elaine,” Byrne said. “It was certainly an idea of stewardship, but in a way that I would want to go there — when I was a student, like a pilgrimage to the Pollock-Krasner House, or somewhere in Europe that was important.”

Much of the home and studio remain untouched, he explained. De Kooning’s worktables still sit in the space, he said, as a testament to her legacy.

“We just replace or repair,” Byrne said. “We don’t redesign.”

Looking toward the future with the new historical designation, Byrne emphasized his continued commitment to stewardship and recognizing the contributions of the home’s former resident. Even now, her work — through art and human expression — lives on in the residency, as new hands daub paint onto canvas, or form sculptures, or draw in the sun-dappled rooms that de Kooning made famous.

“As it stands today, the Elaine de Kooning House and Studio, in both context and form, represents a confluence of events that symbolize the zenith of a significant artist’s career,” the nomination paperwork states. “The property remains not only as the site where a significant female artist once created remarkable canvases but also as a reminder of a time when the East Hampton art colony began once again to flourish with the arrival of a new generation of artists: The Abstract Expressionists.”

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