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Coenties Slip Group

The little strip called Coenties Slip was home to a group of artists in the 1950s headed by Robert Indiana. Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist and Jack Youngerman had their studios by the East River, far from the Greenwich Village scene. Their studios were in old sailmaking factories, left over from when the area was a port for wooden ships. A far more picturesque artist community than the Soho scene!

Robert Indiana at his Coenties Slip Studio

Coenties Slip was home to New York’s publishing houses in the 18th and 19th centuries, then attracted writers like Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe. When the Coenties Group moved in during the mid50s, they were the first artist group to live in industrial spaces. Wanting to completely differentiate themselves from the Abstract Expressionists, they began to develop the precursor to Pop art and Minimalism within their lofts, drawing inspiration from the uninterrupted river views, and the nautical relics they found in their lofts.

Old Timey Coenties Slip

Although they lived near each other and were referred to as the Coenties Group, the name was purely geographical,. They did not form a particular art movement together, but instead acted as a support and critique family that helped each other go on their individual paths.

The area has since been taken over by the tourist heavy South Street Seaport. Most of the buildings that the artists lived in have been torn down. The only surviving is the historic Fraunces Tavern (which was also a meeting place of the Sons of Liberty and a hang out during the Revolutionary War), which is part of a landmarked block that the Coenties Slip group once frequented.

What: Coenties Slip

Who: Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist and more

Where: Near the current South Street Seaport

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2 Responses to “Coenties Slip Group”
  1. Before Bushwick Indiana, Kelly, Rosenquist + Johns pioneered artist loft living-Coenties Slip Group http://t.co/p1litFwp @artnerdnewyork

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  1. […] at One Liberty Plaza, a collection of artist studios that can’t help remind me of the old Coenties Slip Group that included James Rosenquist and Ellsworth Kelly not too far from there. There are some great and […]



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