Among the many art dealers in the Hamptons, Lex Weill stands out as a dealer consultant with his finger on the pulse of tomorrow’s next great contemporary artist. His gallery Lex Weill in Southampton sells works by modernist masters from the post-WWII period to the present day.
Interestingly, needless to say that Weill depicts “post-war modernists” because, despite disagreements among experts about the start date of the modernist movement, Weill, who received a master’s degree in post-war and contemporary art from Christie’s, is a firm believer that it is “everything after World War II because there has been a seismic shift in both the market and the artists acquired. And in a sense, American artists too, taking the pivot from Picasso and Matisse and passing the torch to the Abstract Expressionists.” A big paradigm shift happened “when Pollock started dripping,” he adds.
Lex Weill Gallery has featured works by Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yayoi Kusama, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Joan Mitchell, Avery Singer and other contemporaries. In summary, Weill’s gallery is a “personal exhibition of what I collect myself, mixed with works I intend to sell” that “encompasses a healthy mix between these modernist and contemporary masters – almost like a who’s who of the hypercontemporary market, i.e. the artists of tomorrow.”
As a dealer consultant, Weill expresses, “If someone wants to know who’s next, I want to be the person to participate in that discussion.” And when he’s promoting an emerging artist, he does so wholeheartedly by sharing pieces buys what he believes will usher in the future of art, unique works with no discernible muse, rather than playing it safe with shows or artists whose styles are derived from others.
“A lot of galleries depend on taking commissions and things like that, which bodes well for them,” he says. “For me, the business plan was a bit different because it’s supposed to show that I really stand behind what I’m saying, so if I’m proposing something to a client or I’m a very professional artist, I personally have my backing. And I think that adds a certain level of transparency.”
One such artist he took a chance with was Jordan Casteel, for whom he later painted covers Fashion and time magazines. Timing is everything, Weill shares. So should an art consultant jump on the Casteel train now, given the artist’s current popularity, it wouldn’t demonstrate the same level of professional foresight.
“Once a wave starts, it’s easy to get on that wave, and there’s nothing necessarily special about it,” Weill says, adding that the search for the next great living artist is a trend that hasn’t had scope since the careers of Basquiat, Warhol, Keith Haring and Robert Mapplethorpe. “After this saga happened, it reverted to this old way that the dead artists are, for lack of a better term, the artists you want to collect or the artists who made history. Now there is more history.”
Alluding to this new paradigm shift and the astronomical prices associated with these contemporary artists, Weill originally intended to title his current exhibition More urgent than everbut ultimately decided to leave the exhibition untitled, much like the 1944 Pollock painting featured in it. Contemporary pieces in the show include 2019’s ‘Just Do It’ by Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, ‘The Barefooted Scurry Home ‘ by Jadé Fadojutimi from 2017, ‘Mom’ by Casteel from 2013 and ‘Lift Off’ by Cinga Samon from 2017.
Expected to be released in late summer or early fall, Weill is pleased to present a recently acquired piece by up-and-coming artist Christina Quarles, who Weill says is “just a rock star”.
“She encounters this very unexplored place between Surrealism and Cubism that I find highly unique,” he continues. “It was a very exciting piece for me to record because it’s like looking at someone who has that little starlight in their eyes, that twinkle, and you know they’re going to be big. It is very exciting for everyone involved in writing art history.”
Weill hopes to continue finding emerging artists to support at his Southampton gallery – hyper-contemporary artists whose work is unique in technique and style and deserves a flood of support and status.
“The general public will understand the seismic value that[these artists]are bringing to the table, the technical characteristics and all of that stuff,” he says. “They are just themselves and have such a unique style that has never been done before. For me, finding these artists is the most rewarding thing because I just know that sooner or later, a few years from now, connoisseurs and advisors will not only really enjoy and make fun of them.”
The Lex Weill Gallery is located at 53A Jobs Lane, Southampton. For more information, call 631-488-4006 or email [email protected] or visit weillgallery.comhttp://weillgallery.com.