Hampton's Magazine

Elisabeth Brigham, Meet The Faces Behind Southampton's Sélavy by Di Donna, November 16, 2022

We sat down with Sélavy by Di Donna-Southampton's shoppable art and design gallery-founders Christina and Emmanuel Di Donna to talk inspiration, support from the community, winter plans and more.

Can you tell us a little bit about Sélavy's history?


EDD: Sélavy by Di Donna is the realization of a longtime vision for a space that shows art and design in the context of life rather than within a white-cube art gallery. We opened Di Donna Galleries on Madison Avenue in 2010, which presents museumquality exhibitions of surrealist and modern art, but in 2020 we moved our family to Southampton and had the opportunity to create Sélavy by Di Donna, which presents curated vignettes that combine fine art and design spanning mediums, time periods and cultures. We were fortunate to secure the perfect space at 30 Jobs Lane in the village of Southampton, which functions as a rotating salon viewable from multiple angles through large corner windows. The works in our salons are all available to explore and instantly collect on our website.


You both have an extensive list of experiences in the art world. How did you bring that together to create Sélavy?


CDD: Sélavy is naturally informed by our decades in the blue-chip art world-but, in a funny way, it's rooted more deeply in our personal passions, since it shows how we, our friends and our collectors actually live with works of art and design. Sélavy is meant to feel like an extension of our living room, with design furniture, art on the walls, and sculpture and objects scattered throughout. It has been a lot of fun to be able to contextualize the way we present art as 'this is how it will look in your home' rather than displaying it in a more standard white-cube gallery setting.


Emmanuel is a leading expert on surrealist, modern and postwar art. Before founding Di Donna Galleries in 2010, he spent 17 years at Sotheby's, where he was vice chairman of impressionist and modern art worldwide. I worked at Sotheby's in private client management before opening my own art advisory firm, which focused on emerging contemporary artists. Sélavy by Di Donna allows for us to merge our two areas of expertise and passion.


How has the Hamptons community supported and responded to Sélavy?

EDD: The Hamptons community has welcomed us with open arms. Christina has spent the last 25 summers in Southampton, and in the early days of the pandemic, the natural place for our family to quarantine was at our home here. We are now primarily based in Southampton while maintaining Di Donna Galleries in New York City, and it's been truly gratifying to be able to contribute something small to a community that has meant so much to us these past many years.


What is your favorite part about life in the Hamptons?


CDD: We love the natural beauty of the East End-the same light and landscapes that captivated artists like de Kooning and Pollock. All of the seasons contain something exciting to look forward to, but fall and winter are amazing out here, and in some ways are the best-kept secret of the Hamptons. At this time of year, we can often be found cozying up by the fire and cooking for hours on Sundays. We appreciate the pace of life, with time spent playing golf, tennis and surfing, and our daughters playing outside.


Anything else we can buzz for the winter?


EDD: We plan to spend the holidays at home in the Hamptons and are hoping for a white Christmas-ideally with light, heat and Wi-Fi! Farther from home, we look forward to bringing Sélavy by Di Donna to Palm Beach for a third winter, where we will no doubt see friends from the Hamptons! 30 Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631.898.4404selavy.com