On The Avenue

Changing Leaves, and Changing of the Guard at the Frick

by Kelly Laffey Photographed by Carl Timpone/
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” On what felt like the first cool fall evening of 2017, the Frick Collection honored outgoing board chair Margot Bogert and celebrated the institution’s future at its annual Autumn Dinner.

“My heart is very full tonight. It’s such an incredible honor to be treated this way and honored this way—when you’re still alive,” said Bogert, amid laughter from the crowd. Throughout the evening, Bogert, who in 2005 became the first person outside of the Frick family to lead the institution as Board chair, was lauded for her contributions, particularly in making The Frick more accessible to a wider audience. “She’s been incredible,” said Chief Curator Xavier Salomon. “She’s a deeply intelligent person who’s really guided The Frick into better territories.”

“The Frick is a bit of a well-kept secret,” commented Ian Wardropper, Director of The Frick Collection, who was hired by Bogert. “A lot of New Yorkers know about it, but still many people have never heard of it. [We’ve worked to] make it interesting to a wider range of people.” Among the initiatives begun during Bogert’s tenure is First Fridays, when admission to the Frick is free on the first Friday of the month, from 6–9 p.m. “We’ve done surveys, and of the people who come here, about two-thirds of them have never been before. And, more than half of them are 35 years old, or younger.”

The evening began with a cocktail reception in the 1935 neoclassical Garden Court. Guests then proceeded into the West Gallery or Oval Room for the main course. The Autumn Dinner, which raises over $1 million annually for programs at The Frick, is the only sit-down dinner held in the museum’s picture galleries. The program began with remarks by Frick Chairman Betty Eveillard, before Wardropper, Helen Clay Chase, Sid R. Knafel and Henry Johnson toasted Bogert. 

“This is a chance to bring so many people together for a glamorous evening,” commented Bogert on the event. Guests had access to the gallery spaces throughout the night, their black tie attire making the event feel like a true Gilded Age soiree.

“What’s different about a place like the Frick, when compared to other museums, is that it really has a sense of quality and personality. You can sense Henry Clay Frick, and you can sense the family’s presence,” said Wardropper. “The Frick is an institution that stands for a certain state of grace. For elegance. For quality. It really is a portal into the past.”

Adding to The Frick’s significance is the number of rotating exhibitions on display, in addition to the permanent collection. “We have two shows opening in the next few weeks,” said Salomon. “One is Veronese in Murano. The other is Murillo, which will celebrate [400 years since] his birth.” Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored will feature two recently conserved and rarely seen paintings by artist Paolo Veronese. This is the first time that the paintings are leaving Murano, an island off the coast of Venice. Murillo: The Self-Portraits brings together the only two known self-portraits of the Spanish artist, and is presented in conjunction with the National Gallery in London.

Both exhibits will pair perfectly with the fall days ahead.


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