Yet another emerging artist got some help from the Chelsea Hotel on Monday night, though the circumstances might have left the hotel's previous, bohemian residents scratching their heads. For starters, the building is closed for renovations, and has been since 2011. The exhibition took place in the Hotel Chelsea Storefront Gallery on the ground floor.
And then there was the artist in question: Her Serene Highness, Gloria, the Dowager Princess of Thurn and Taxis, whose primary residence is a 500-room palace in Regensburg, Germany, and is bohemian only in the sense that her family used to own large swaths of Bohemia.
Taxis, 54, partied hard enough in the 1980s to earn the sobriquet "punk princess" from the press. Her penchant for sketching is less well-known -- her first show was at the Gallery Pierre Passebon in Paris just last month.
The images on view Monday night were commissioned by the Hotel Chelsea. "Come On Darling, Don't Be Mad" is a series of portraits of the hotel's illustrious, (long-gone) former habitués.
Punk no longer, at the opening Taxis was dressed in a conservative black- silk outfit with matching patent leather pumps. Trailed by a film crew, she greeted guests as waiters passed around cardboard boxes filled with miniature lobster rolls. "Look at you!" Taxis cried as Calvin Klein rushed forward for an embrace. Standing by a makeshift bar, the gallerist and former MOCA Los Angeles director Jeffrey Deitch chit-chatted with the socialite/art critic Anthony Haden Guest. "She's done one of me, you know," said Deitch, shortly before excusing himself to leave the building.
Other guests walked around the room trying to name the artists in each successive portrait. "There's a sheet of paper with the names," said one woman, "but the guessing game is much more fun."
And it was -- was that Amin Aga Khan? No: Tennessee Williams. Allen Ginsberg was easy -- the glasses were a giveaway. Dennis Hopper was another easy one, though guests were repeatedly led astray by the portrait of Stanley Kubrick -- multiple people settled on "Salman Rushdie" instead.
Entertaining as the guessing game might have been, it hit on the source of Taxis' artistic success: what she might lack in skill (what do Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Alice Cooper, Jane Fonda, Iggy Pop, Jeff Beck, and Jean Paul Sartre have in common? Apparently, the same eye color), she makes up with her democratizing touch. Nowhere else would all of these towering cultural figures receive the same, benign treatment: the viewer meets each portrait as a peer, as Taxis knows them. Turns out, everyone's the same when you're a billionaire celebrity princess.
But the real question is, are they all the same to you, the reader? Play our fun guessing game: name each portrait, starting from the top left. Answers are in the caption below.
And if you'd rather not guess at all, you can have your own portrait done by the princess. All you need is a head shot and $1,250.