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New YorkerBefore the era of overpopulated time-shares, minivans, and Lizzie Grubman, Long Island's East End was famed as the "premier retreat for America's artistic and literary luminaries." So write Helen A. Harrison and Constance Ayers Denne in Hamptons Bohemia, a colorful ode to the Hamptons' often overlooked cultural legacy. Filled with photos of such residents and weekenders as Jackson Pollock, Kurt Vonnegut, and Truman Capote at work and at play, "Hamptons Bohemia" reveals a South Fork that first became a haven for artists in the nineteenth century, when James Fenimore Cooper and Winslow Homer were drawn to the remote beaches and austere potato fields. By the nineteen-forties, wide-eyed locals could be overheard asking, "Can you tell us where we'll find the Surrealists?"
As one East Ender, Edward Albee, points out, the Hamptons have since become "suburbs of New York City." Yet some evidence of artistic exile remains. In Studios by the Sea, the former Interview editor Bob Colacello and the photographer Jonathan Becker document the current crop of beachside artists, including Julian Schnabel, who has set up shop in an 1882 Stanford White mansion. Architects have also gravitated to the East End. Weekend Utopia, by the lifelong Hamptonian Alastair Gordon, explores the idea that the "beach house was the sonnet form of American architecture." It was in the Hamptons that White, Philip Johnson, and Robert Venturi worked out their ideas, and where now, as Gordon ruefully notes, ersatz manor houses twice the size of the White House gobble up the landscape. As Capote warned back in the seventies, "Some of the potato fields, so beautiful, flat and still, may not be here next year." (Mark Rozzo)