For a brief period in the 1950s and ’60s, an out-of-the-way street at the southeastern edge of Manhattan hosted a community of artists whose work there would change art history. Fred Mitchell encouraged Ellsworth Kelly to live there, and he in turn invited Robert Indiana, Jack Youngerman, and Delphine Seyrig. Agnes Martin, Lenore Tawney, and James Rosenquist also moved in, and Ann Wilson and Charles Hinman briefly worked there too.

Coenties Slip, named after 17th-century Dutch settlers, was originally part waterway for mooring boats and a major marketplace. By the 1950s, the neighborhood was transitioning from a maritime to a financial center. Drawn by cheap rents, open floor plans, and solitude, the artists lived and worked in former sailmaking and industrial lofts, and often incorporated objects scavenged from the demolition around them into their art. They never formed a movement; their diverse art encompasses abstraction and figuration; textiles, assemblage, film, painting––but they all had significant breakthroughs at Coenties Slip that changed the landscape of modern art, and supported each other’s need to be a part of but also apart from the cultural scene.


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