A Prominent Art-World Couple's Hamptons Spec House Gets a Dazzling Upgrade Fairfax Dorn and Marc Glimcher incorporate A-list art into their summer home.
Fairfax Dorn and Marc Glimcher incorporate A-list art into their summer home.
Photos: Fairfax Dorn Projects
Photos: Luke White
Marc Glimcher and Fairfax Dorn, a prominent art-world couple with two highly developed aesthetics, never imagined they would be the kind of people who would buy a spec house. But when plans to build their own summer home in the Hamptons fell through in 2017, they decided to check out a newly developed 11-bedroom property in Sagaponack, New York, that Dorn had seen online.
“I just fell in love with it,” says Glimcher, president and CEO of Pace Gallery. Pace was founded 60 years ago by his father, Arne, who put it on the map by persuading the sculptor Louise Nevelson to take a chance on an unknown gallerist. Working alongside his father for decades, the younger Glimcher is now leading the powerhouse gallery into the future with his multidisciplinary vision and a statement-making new eight-story global headquarters that opened last fall in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
At the time the couple toured the Sagaponack property, Glimcher was consumed in the gallery’s building project, and the spec house seemed appealingly easy and finished. “There were sheets on the bed,” Glimcher recalls. “I was like, ‘We don’t have to do a thing!’”
His wife saw it differently. “It was very tastefully done but felt a little soulless to me,” says Dorn, who grew up near Corpus Christi, Texas; in 2003 she cofounded the eccentric arts space Ballroom Marfa, which brings contemporary art, music, performance, and film to the small Texas town that Donald Judd first made art-world famous in the 1970s with his installations at a former army base. She agreed that the house suited them but told her husband, “I think we need to make some changes.”
Thus began Dorn’s “intervention on a spec house,” as she refers to it today. Her design collective, Fairfax Dorn Projects, took on the task. “With any house, your personality has to be a part of it,” she says.
“Fairfax is a master installer,” says Glimcher, who hired his wife’s team to select and place furniture in the executive offices of the new Pace building. “She has a very complete vision of what a place could look like,” he adds, joking that if he wants to install a show at the gallery or an art fair himself, he intentionally gives Dorn the wrong date or time.
For the Sagaponack house, Glimcher shared opinions when asked. Dorn tackled the dining room first, where she pulled him into her internal debate between minimal and maximal. “Either the dining room could be very simple, or it could go all the way,” says Dorn, who came across an extravagant wallpaper designed by Jennifer Shorto with monkeys leaping through an architectural folly and stylized blue trees.
“The monkeys showed up, and everything just went wild,” Glimcher says. He agreed to let go of his “white cube” gallery aesthetic and got on board. From there, Dorn brought in a long 18th-century Swedish library-type table for dining, 1950s French chiseled dining chairs by Jean Touret, and inexpensive basket pendant lights that play off the tropical feeling of the wallpaper. “I feel like every Hamptons house should have a funky room,” Dorn says. “It’s just very cozy.”
It’s the only room in the house that doesn’t have art, as Dorn has yet to find the right piece to work with the wallpaper. Everywhere else, though, art takes pride of place. “I really wanted to showcase artists that Pace and I have a relationship with in a special way,” she says.
In the living room, where she was aiming for an atmosphere that felt “very beachy and open,” David Hockney’s vibrant Interior with Blue Terrace and Garden glows over the fireplace. Airy compositions by two other Pace artists—Elizabeth Murray and Lee Ufan—provide counterbalance. The eclectic mix of furnishings, which include a welded-copper side table by Korean designer Kwangho Lee, are loosely linked by the rhythm of their curves, Dorn says.
A black chandelier by Fred Wilson and three of his paintings set the tone in the home’s entry hall, while Julian Schnabel’s huge canvas Rose Painting (Near Van Gogh’s Grave) XXI dominates the den. Indeed, the home is filled with works by Pace artists, including Louise Nevelson, Lynda Benglis, and Yoshitomo Nara. But Dorn also made sure to hang works by artists she has long championed personally, including Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Rita Ackermann, Sue Williams, Loie Hollowell, and William Monk (the latter two are now represented by Pace).
For the couple, who had their first child together in 2018 in the midst of the Sagaponack project, the house is a place for the three of them and Glimcher’s four older children from two earlier marriages to gather in the summer and on holidays. “Marc loves it when they’re all here,” Dorn says. “That was his inspiration for buying the house.”
The couple has aimed to make it a retreat—“something that feels comfortable and not so precious,” Dorn explains. Sometimes an intervention is exactly what’s needed to turn a spec house into a family home.