While some art aficionados were curled up on their couches watching the debut of Bravo’s new reality show, Work of Art last night, New York’s social set rocked their right brains at this year’s Art Party and auction, hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The guests, including Christina Ricci and Ivanka Trump, careened out of the chilly June rain and into the garden-party themed space on Mercer Street. Some made a point of stopping to examine the photography and contemporary art on display, before diving into the crowd: a smattering of actors, artists, socialites, and a healthy representation of fashion constituents.
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Dawn Clements, an artist whose work appeared in this year’s Whitney Biennial, was circulating, while the steel-wire work she donated, “There's no such thing as a good decision (away),” awaited auctioning. [At the time of this posting, the Whitney had not completed tabulating auction figures.]
“It’s inspiring,” offered actress Maggie Grace, who had earlier been chatting up Lost co-star in Emilie de Ravin (who starred opposite the world’s favorite vampire, Robert Pattinson, in Remember Me, out this March). “I came last year, and thankfully this year we have more space to play.”
Grace, who wore a dress, yes, painted by Ellen Harvey (it was an art party, after all) and designed by Max Azria, a chair of the event, said, “I’m a neophyte to the art world, but I have a couple of good friends very much immersed in it, so I’m learning. And I’m remodeling a house now, so I definitely have my eye out,“ she said, adding, “I’m in LA, so maybe I’ll bring a little of the New York art world home with me.”
Grace’s painted dress served as a foreshadowing of one of the evening’s performances: artist Ryan Humphrey, himself an alum of the Whitney’s Independent Study Program, printed a dress on a live patron—jewelry designer Pamela Love.
Dani Stahl, Nylon Magazine’s fashion director, caught up with Derek Blasberg, Style.com’s Editor-at-large and author of the new book, Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady. Stahl, looking modernly ladylike in a blue Hervé Leger number, lamented, “People are trying to act more interested in the art than they actually are because it’s such a cool social scene, but it’s a bummer because the art is pretty cool.” But, after a moment, she admitted, “I’ll be honest, I walked in and I sort of saw half the room then I started chatting.”
Stahl mentioned another element the art brings to the party: “When (people) want to walk away from you they go, ‘oh, I’m going to go look at the art.’”
Standing with a few friends next to the bar was Timo Weiland, co-owner and co-designer of his eponymous clothing line. “I’m about to place some really financially destructive bids on some art,” Weiland declared, in his Libertine-bedazzled vintage jacket. Then he casually added, “I think people are really horny here. I kind of noticed a few single stallions and a lot of slutty single ladies, but in a good way. I think it’s going to be a really fun night for some people.” Weiland smiled as he made his way towards the dancefloor, which had only materialized moments earlier in front of Paul Sevigny’s DJ booth. (He later bid on, but did not win, Kenseth Armstead’s acrylic, “Citizen James in the Revolution.”)
“I’m about to place some really financially destructive bids on some art,” said Timo Weiland, who made a go for a Kenseth Armstead acrylic.
As artist Ellen Harvey set up paper towels, tarp, and red wine for her exhibition with downtown scenester Arden Wohl (“Ominous!” @ WhitneyMuseum live-tweeted), “Page Six” gossip and taxi-cab TV star Neel Shah turned up, straight from a birthday dinner with the apparently-very-nice Pauly Shore. Shah quipped, “There were a lot of models there and a lot of models here.” He adds, “which means I was at two places where every girl was too tall for me.”
On the other side of the large space stood Teen Vogue editor Andrew (or Andy, depending) Bevan. “I’ve been on the host committee for a couple years and I think this seems a lot warmer than in years past. The vibe, the energy. The space is really great. Very downtown, exposed brick. You know… The J.F.K., Jr./Soho-loft thing.”
Bevan said, “I feel like this party is sort of a weird fashion high school reunion because it brings out a lot of people who have worked in the fashion industry, who currently work in the fashion industry, and who have their eyes set on the fashion industry. They’re all in one room and there’s a lot of different faces, a lot of good vibes. It’s the art world and the fashion industry coming together.” Bevan stopped for a moment to reflect, then wryly demurred, “I sound like a douchebag.”