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The D’Amico House displays a diverse collection of original artwork, furnishings, and objects, such as designs collected by the D’Amicos through the Museum of Modern Art and the D’Amicos’ own. The majority of the artworks and numerous objects displayed are by Mabel, a found object construction artist. Permanent displays and temporary exhibits show the breadth of her creative output, which includes paintings, work in glass and wood, jewelry and clothes. The house features ingenious functional aspects like cabinetry integrated beneath the stairway, unique lighting and electrical systems, sculptural door casings, and hand-glazed glass tile countertops, all designed, created, and installed by Mabel and Victor. Visitors experience profoundly Mabel and Victor’s creatively prolific lives.
Mabel and Victor together visited Amagansett in 1939 and around 1940 found a beach-front lot overlooking Gardiner’s Bay and Napeague Harbor in Amagansett’s Lazy Point. They would lease the land from the East Hampton Town Trustees and build a home.
Eastern Long Island was fast becoming a hub for modern artists, a wave of abstract artists arriving in 1945 led by Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner and soon followed by Constantino Nivola, James Brooks and Charlotte Park, Alfonso Ossorio, and Elaine and Willem de Kooning, among others.
Along with these artists, Mabel and Victor were acquainted with the recognized realist painter Alexander Brook (b. Brooklyn, NY, 1898—d. Sag Harbor, NY, 1980). Brook owned the small fisherman’s cottage next to the lot where the couple began to build their house based on modernist principles of aesthetics and functionality. Mabel and Victor dealt creatively with materials’ rationing during the war by recycling building materials from another structure—Mabel tasked with straightening nails to reuse in the new construction.
Around 1953, Mabel and Victor expanded their modest beach house to include a ground-floor, glass-enclosed living area, with the best space in the house designed not as a living area but as an art studio for Mabel on the second story. In 1955, Brook transferred the lease of his cottage to Mabel, further extending the property. It was used as a convenient guest house from then on.
The building evolved with the couple through the years and Mabel continued making changes and additions following Victor’s death and through 1990, such as adding an elevator. Following Mabel’s death in 1998, the house and much of the site have been kept essentially as they were left by the D’Amicos.
The D’Amico Studio and Archive manifests the ideal of creative living and serves to illustrate and interpret the couple’s progressive ideals in art and education.