When it comes to spring galas, last night’s Tribeca Ball ranks high on the social circuit for art and culture cognoscenti. But the evening, held at the New York Academy of Art, does more than implore guests to don their most comfortable party shoes as they walk the six floors of open art studios and interactive installations. In addition to honoring art world fixtures—this year, Michael Chow—it serves as a springboard for emerging artists, whether opportunity takes the form of a chapter in bespectacled curator Jeffrey Deitch’s upcoming tome or a new client like fashion designer Misha Nonoo.
“I just want to know, is it real Van Cleef?” asked Marina Abramovic, gesturing towards models in Van Cleef & Arpels jewels standing under a canopy of streamers. One model responded with a nod. “So they’re not copies? Okay. That’s all I wanted to know,” added Abramovic. The performance artist followed the artsy crowd that included Brooke Shields, Naomi Watts, Al Pacino, and Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin past a towering trio of models dressed as mermaids.
Just a few floors below, Abramovic’s good friend Jeffrey Deitch was in search of his own realism. Figurative realism. The kind that the art dealer might feature in a new book he’s presently working on. “There must be a vision,” said Deitch, whose last book, Live The Art, chronicled the 15-year history of his own Deitch Projects gallery space in New York. “What I’m looking for here is people who have extraordinary technique,” he added.
There's no denying that the caliber of artwork was impressive, but there were plenty of other things to enjoy, too: Renditions of famous Vincent Van Gogh works were painted in under 15 minutes by an artist on the ground floor; oyster shuckers and a pizza station in the print studios kept partygoers moving; and there were plenty of lively musical acts at every corner.
With cocktail hour shifting towards the main course, it was time to head to Spring Studios, where the New Museum Spring Gala was already underway. Taking to the stage, Simon de Pury got the bidding going: $90,000 for a watercolor portrait by Elizabeth Peyton sold to a Los Angeles buyer. It wasn’t long before the Swiss auctioneer found new homes for contemporary works by Rashid Johnson, Albert Oehlen, and Wolfgang Tillmans.
The evening was quickly winding down, but not without its share of reminiscing. “Oh sure, my first show was at the New Museum,” said Jeff Koons. The museum's ability to initiate a dialogue between living artists and the public explains why it would attract the support of DKNY’s Creative Directors Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. Through a new partnership with the global brand, an upcoming May exhibition will look to feature the work of five female artists in an all-women show—often cited as a rare event in the art world. “Tonight is about celebrating,” said Osborne. And the crowd did just that as musician Shamir took the stage. Good art, good music, good company—what more could you ask for on a rainy Monday night?