Ten years ago, the chance that Larry Gagosian, Mary Boone, Ileana Sonnabend and Arne Glimcher would have loaned their star artists to a competing New York gallery was virtually nil. And the odds that artists like Eric Fischl, David Salle and Richard Prince would agree to share the limelight with their competitors, in a group show, were even slimmer.

Enter the Nineties and The Off Shore Gallery in East Hampton, a collaboration between the owners of Metro Pictures, Janelle Reiring and Helene Winer, and Swiss dealer-collector Rachel Lehmann. The gallery opened on Sunday — with a cocktail party at Lehmann’s East Hampton beach house — and with cooperation from Pace, Gagosian, Boone, Sonnabend, Robert Miller, Leo Castelli, Knoedler, John Webber, Barbara Gladstone and Edward Thorpe and artists ranging from Fischl to Ross Bleckner to Barbara Krueger.

What a difference a depressed market makes.

“This never could have happened in the Eighties, when it was so competitive and everyone could sell things on their own,” admits Winer. “Now, Larry wants to work with us. Douglas Baxter, from Pace, was totally helpful. Mary, too, has said it’s part of the times. People have to do things differently.”

Of course cooperation comes at a price — like a percentage of each sale. “We couldn’t go around stealing artists,” says Reiring.

Although previous attempts at East End galleries run by Manhattanites have not always been successful, the owners of Off Shore are banking that snob appeal will give them an edge. Only artists successful enough to have houses in the area were invited to participate. It will be social, an alternative to the Gibson Beach scene in Sagaponeck, where art types sunbathe and rubberneck. But what Winer plans for Off Shore is a place where artists can “drop by and feel they can run into someone.” “But I don’t want it to be Canio’s Bookstore with poetry readings,” she adds, referring to a bohemian-style bookstore in East Hampton. “We’ve included all the well-known artists who live out there, so it’s pretty exclusive…It will be a mini-extension of the New York art world.”

Many of the artists with solo shows are exhibiting work that is experimental.

“They are calling it Off Shore, but I call it Off Broadway,” says Richard Prince, who is planning to show something. “It’s a way of unveiling an experiment or having a preview.”

Painter Ross Bleckner sees it as another avenue of exposure. “People have more time [in the Hamptons]. You get a chance to take in a movie, have an ice cream.” And if he sells a few extra paintings? “It can’t hurt.”

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