Four decades on, what’s kept the New Museum fresh? Opinions vary. “They take chances and they're not afraid to cause trouble, two things all museums should do,” said John Waters, wearing a fraying suit meant to evoke cat hair.
"I like the people and it's a nice museum. I didn't have a role in [their retrospective of my career], but they did a good job," said Raymond Pettibon.
"It represents opportunity and engagement. It's something for our generation," said Jeff Koons. "It's a place that’s very honest with itself."
Yes, the New Museum may have celebrated its fortieth birthday last night, but it showed no signs of a midlife crisis. Held at Cipriani Wall Street, the gala honored artist Chris Ofili, President Saul Dennison and Allan Schwartzman, the museum's first curator. Guests wore sneakers with suits—an irreverent dress code for a proudly irreverent museum—bid on items by artists like Ryan Trecartin and Marisa Merz and danced to an eclectic playlist that mixed James Brown and Stevie Wonder with songs from More Life. Why such a wide-ranging soundtrack? "Half for the sophisticated older art crowd, and half for the younger, edgier in-the-know people,” said DJ MICK.
Attendees included Brice and Helen Marden, Julian Schnabel, Michael Stipe, Bill Powers and Cynthia Rowley, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, Bruce Flatt and Lonti Ebbers, Maya Lin, Simon de Pury, Renée Fleming, David Zwirner, Jack Whitten and chairs Shelley Fox Aarons, Mitzi Eisenberg, Charlotte Feng Ford and Susan Feinstein.