Hamptons Scene: Rand Paul Reads; Motherwell Quonset Huts

Senator Rand Paul hit a fundraiser in East Hampton Saturday night -- for the public library, not his own coffers.

“We have some friends up here,” the Kentucky Republican said of his visit to the resort area, where Hillary Clinton is in temporary residence and Senator Ted Cruz has a fundraiser scheduled for Friday. “They invited us to meet some of their friends. It’s not really official fundraising so much.”

Paul, who has said he’s thinking about running for president in 2016, and his wife Kelley came to Author’s Night with Kate Hartson, an executive editor at Hachette Book Group. She has a home in Hampton Bays and spent the weekend with the Pauls, including a boat tour and fishing in Montauk.

Hachette publishes Paul, his dad, former presidential candidate Ron Paul, and, soon, his wife.

“I’m doing a book that’s a collection of essays about women of inspiration,” Kelley Paul said. It’s “mainly about my grandmother,” she said.

“The book is called ‘True and Constant Friend.’ It’s set for publication next spring,” Hartson said, adding that their Hamptons itinerary included working on photos for the book.

Another Hachette author, Nelson DeMille, who invited them all to Authors’ Night, chatted with the Pauls under a tent at Gardiner Farm before sitting down to sign books. Other authors on hand included food celebrity Giada De Laurentiis, Aerin Lauder and Gabriel Sherman, whose work investigates Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.

Rand Paul has been reading his first DeMille thriller, one inspired by “The Great Gatsby,” about a WASP couple’s entanglement with the mob on the gilded North Shore of Long Island.

Summer Reading

“I’m in the middle of ‘The Gold Coast’ right now,” he said. “ I’m worried about the Stanhopes getting messed up with this Bellarosa guy, because I think he’s up to no good. But I don’t know yet what’s going to happen. But I think something not so good is going to happen.”

“I haven’t read anything of his,” DeMille said of Rand Paul’s books. “I would, though. The guy’s got an interesting take on the world.”

Rand Paul, for his part, may not get to the sequels to “The Gold Coast.”

“I don’t have a lot of time to read this summer,” he said.

The event raised close to $300,000 for the library, said its director, Dennis Fabiszak.

Motherwell Exhibition

While there’s plenty of ridiculous real estate throughout the East End, for my money, the house everyone should be talking about is the one Robert Motherwell built using Quonset huts on land purchased for $800 in the 1940s.

Cerberus’s Len Tessler, real-estate investor William Mack, Mark Asset Management’s Morris Mark, Centerview’s Robert Pruzan and Carlyle Group’s Boris Okuliar already know about it. They attended Guild Hall’s gala Friday night, toasting a new exhibition and book about the artist’s early artistic production in East Hampton, including the house.

I sat at the gala with the show’s curator, Phyllis Tuchman, and Catherine Craft, the associate curator of Dallas’s Nasher Sculpture Center. Craft contributed an essay to Tuchman’s book about the influence Motherwell’s visit to Mondrian’s studio had on his own conception of an artist’s work space.

Raised on the West Coast, Motherwell moved to New York in 1940 for graduate studies at Columbia, supported by his father, a banker who’d served as president of Wells Fargo and wanted his son to have a teaching career to fall back on.

The artist, who also wrote and published criticism, began coming out east in 1944, when he was 29, according to Tom Clifford’s chronology in the book. He rented a house in Amagansett across the street from John Cage for $35 a month, then another on Main Street in East Hampton.

Jericho Lane

His career got off to a promising start: In late 1945, before his first solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of the Century, MoMA acquired “Pancho Villa, Dead or Alive.”

With money inherited from his father, in 1946, he bought two acres at the corner of Jericho Lane and Georgica Road. He also hired Pierre Chareau, a close friend he’d met through Anais Nin, to design a home and separate studio structure on the property. Chareau’s “fee” was a piece of Motherwell’s land, on which he built his own cottage.

In search of affordable materials for Motherwell’s property, Chareau used two military surplus Quonset huts with rounded tops, which he sunk into the ground and lit naturally with a glass wall from a greenhouse. In the studio, the concrete floor was poured with no seams so Motherwell could paint on it.

Castelli, De Kooning

Plagued by cost overruns, the house was one of the first modern homes built on the East End and landed Motherwell in Harper’s Bazaar. He was 32 when he moved in full-time with his first wife, in late July of 1947. Motherwell painted “Personage, with Yellow Ochre and White.” The next year, the art dealer Leo Castelli moved across the street.

Weary of the isolation, the Motherwells moved back to New York later that year.

Married anew in 1950, the artist and his second wife moved back to the Hamptons for the summer. In August, Chareau died and the couple retreated, with Motherwell teaching and beginning a commission for a synagogue in New Jersey designed by Percival Goodman.

They would spend time over the summers for the next two years, remaining in New York in 1953, when Willem de Kooning stayed on the property. Later that year, Motherwell sold the property to Barney Rosset, the owner of Grove Press, who held onto it for almost 30 years. Motherwell’s subsequent homes included a brownstone at 173 East 94th Street and a house in Greenwich, Connecticut.

1980s Photos

In the 1980s, before the huts were razed, Alistair Gordon documented the property in photographs, which have their own room in the show along with a scale model. Of course, the house had changed somewhat by then, yet the photos manage to convey how an artist on a budget created a place that was original and inspiring for his work.

A photograph published in the companion book shows Motherwell squatting against the wall under the arched ceiling. Light beams cast vertical bands on the custom wood floor, a shadow of the staircase and a visual echo of a motif seen in many of the paintings in the exhibition.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.