If you’re lucky enough to visit the Hamptons this summer be sure to catch the John Chamberlain: It Ain’t Cheap exhibition at The Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, New York. Although the Institute has 65 works of Chamberlain’s in its collection, curator Yasmil Raymond selected just six to show. They’re from a series of Chamberlain’s rarely seen metal paintings (he favored auto lacquer on Formica and metal), which were originally presented at Leo Castelli Gallery in January 1965.
Although not all of the reviews were great that year (Stuart Preston wrote in the New York Times: “They look like General Motors color/texture demonstrations as presented by a Bauhaus student a generation ago”), Chamberlain wrote to Castelli in September 1965, asking for more money. Chamberlain was living on $2250 a month: “…as you can see a good deal has to be spent on materials, labor, studio etc which I figure at $1500 a month, and it looks like the family can’t make it on less than $750 month…this is what we need here, but it looks to me like the pieces ought to bring about 8 thou each, or is that a laff?” Two years ago, the original Leo Castelli opening exhibition invitation (a silkscreened napkin like revision of the square metal paintings) was bought at auction for $1000.
Read Chamberlain’s entire letter to Castelli via the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Dan Flavin Art Institute, Bridgehampton, NY.
Photo: Florian Holzherr.