On The Avenue

You Gotta Be Whittin’ Me!

by Ben Diamond Photographed by Neil Rasmus and Carl Timpone/BFA.com
Thursday, May 25, 2017
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The glittering hordes descended on the Whitney Tuesday night for the museum’s annual spring gala. The night began with a cocktail reception in the museum’s sixth floor galleries, where the museum’s biennial is on view. 

“It’s the biennial’s first time here,” said Beth Rudin DeWoody, “and it’s got incredible space that it didn’t have before. I think they did an amazing job of finding what’s going on in the art world, searching the country for really great artists.”

Whitney director Adam Weinberg agreed. “I like to think of it as the generous biennial. It’s generous in the amount of space that it gives to each of the artists, and in the generosity the curators showed to the artists. They worked really, really closely with them,” he said.

After cocktails, trustee Neil G. Bluhm was honored at dinner with an amusing, Oscars-spoofing video tribute. “Neil is probably more responsible than most for the new Whitney, so to be able to honor him with this really special video is great,” said Weinberg.

Dinner was followed with an after party featuring musical performances from DJs Sam French and Kitty Cash and a live show from the band Ravi Shavi.

“I loved it! It was all about expressing yourself, and about individuality,” said designer Michelle Smith.

For all the evening’s levity, however, art remained the main topic of discussion. “I don’t know maybe it’s Donald Trump, maybe it’s the times we’re in,” said Brooke Neidich. “I keep quoting David Breslin, our curator of collections, who said ‘art instigates, but it also provides solace.’ I think there’s a lot of art in the biennial that instigates.”

But not everybody was so strident.“No! Art doesn’t need to be anything more than what the artist has in their head, and what they need to get out,” said Jon Kessler, one of the artists featured in the biennial. “This is a time for making art of any kind.”

Since 1931, the Whitney Museum of American Art has been one of the foremost art museums in the United States. This year’s gala raised $5.1 million. Guests included Katie Holmes, Lauren Bush and David Lauren, Polina Proshkina, Jeff and Justine KoonsPaul SevignyReed and Delphine Krakoff, Melissa Schiff Soros, Marc and Amy Lasry, Will Cotton, Ann and Andrew Tisch, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Barry and Miriam Sternlicht and Nina Garcia.


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