If you stop just off the Old Montauk Freeway at the far end of Long Island, where the East End meets the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a stretch of green grass leading up to a stable with decades of history. of fashion and art. The estate, formerly known as Deep Hollow Ranch, was once owned by Andy Warhol (who loved the village of Montauk so much that he moved into a beachfront residence adjacent to the land) and the former CEO of J Crew, Mickey Drexler. When Warhol became the owner, he rented parts of the complex to Lee Radziwill, who invited Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her children to stay; Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Halston, and Keith Haring were also frequent visitors to the ranch throughout the languid summers of the Hamptons. And while the Rolling Stones recorded their album Memory Motel, they also spent time in Deep Hollow, practicing their songs in the moors just yards from the ranch (much to the surprise and delight of Warhol’s neighbors).
On Saturday, June 26, art dealer Max Levai, who bought the ranch and moved in August 2020, hosted a celebration to mark the next iteration in the country’s history. Levai, formerly president of the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan, transformed the property into The Ranch: an indoor-outdoor art space and farming destination that uses both a grassy field and a converted stable as exhibition venues. In the latter space, which looks more like a tented Renaissance church than an art gallery, there are currently two exhibitions: The first drawings of Susan Te Kahurangi King, retracing the artist’s illustrations between 1958-1963; and Peter Halley: Blocks—a collection of geometric paintings by Halley made in Day-Glo tones. Outside, a trio of artists make up the exhibition Hero of the camp. Virginia Overton installed a large set of chimes containing elements of the ranch – pieces of metal, a strip of plexiglass – Aaron Curry’s cartoonish neon sculptures, which once stood at Lincoln Center, rose out of the grass and Castaway, a sculpture by Frank Benson of a man in a low squat walks the grounds.
Throughout Saturday afternoon, locals including Hannah Bronfman and artist Jo Shane toured the space, strolling the exhibits, listening to music and visiting the horses in paddocks wooden which appeared to belong to the hills of Kentucky rather than the far east. tip of Long Island. At the center of it all was Levai, who roamed the park all day wearing loose jeans tucked into his socks and hiking boots, his shirt sleeves unbuttoned. The art dealer said he first came across Deep Hollow Ranch in the spring of 2020, while living with a friend and his dog on Monday at the Haven Motel in Montauk. On a walk with Monday, he found the expansive grounds and property designed by Carl Fischer, and noticed from a distance a barn he imagined to be perfect for hosting the art exhibitions he had been ruminating on since he had left the Marlborough Gallery when the pandemic hit New York in March 2020.
“We were working on exhibits and it takes years for them to show up,” Levai said from inside his home on The Ranch, which is a short walk from the garden sculptures. “We needed a place to carry out our projects, and I needed a house. So I moved here in August and discovered the country, immersing myself in history.
Part of studying this history involved knowing the stories of the former owner, Warhol, who bought the resort in 1971 with his manager and collaborator, Paul Morrissey. In true Warhol spirit, Levai said he plans to continue programming at the Ranch year-round, with a mix of contemporary and historical exhibits across disciplines and media.
“This space has always been activated by the people who owned and lived there,” he added. “It takes a village to make everything work, and what I’ve learned here is that it’s all about education, care and community.”