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Bash Andy Warhol for Dessert at Brooklyn Museum Gala

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Performa Fundraiser
A guest at Performa festival's 2009 fundraiser smashes chocolate copies of Jeff Koons bunny sculptures with a hammer in New York. The event was masterminded by food artist Jennifer Rubell. Photographer: Kevin Tachman/Brooklyn Museum via Bloomberg

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Art patrons will pay from $500 to $1,500 for a bizarre meal at the Brooklyn Museum’s annual fundraising ball tomorrow.

New York-based food artist Jennifer Rubell masterminded the offbeat dinner for 600, with each course served on a different floor. The museum expects to raise as much as $700,000 from the event.

“It’s going to be intense,” said Rubell, 39, dressed in paint-stained jeans and black V-neck sweater, as we walked from floor to floor on a pre-gala tour last week. “People will be forced into interactivity. It’s the exact opposite way to how we are raised to interact with art. It eliminates the possibility of being passive.”

Dessert, for instance, is stuffed inside the 20-foot-tall Andy Warhol head, a piñata -- not to be confused, when swinging your baseball bat, with the dripping cheese head that goes with cocktail hour.

Rubell, the daughter of Miami collectors Mera and Don Rubell, is becoming the art world’s favorite conceptual food wizard. Last fall, she brought apple trees into the former Dia center in Manhattan’s Chelsea district for Performa festival’s opening night. People jumped into peanuts piled on the floor and smashed chocolate replicas of Jeff Koons’s stainless-steel rabbit with hammers.

In June, she will create a wedding feast for Simon de Pury, chairman of Phillips de Pury auction house, at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

Smash the Bunny

Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, decided to hire Rubell after smashing a bunny or two at the Performa benefit.

“I hit one of the ears with the hammer and there was my dessert,” Lehman said in a telephone interview. “I saw people picking the apples off the trees. It was lots and lots and lots of fun.”

The Brooklyn Museum event draws inspiration from Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Joseph Beuys and Warhol, Rubell said. Works by Paul McCarthy, Vito Acconci and Bruce Nauman led to witty cocktail-hour installations, including hundreds of baby carrots, the cheese heads and colorful dips squeezed out of paint tubes.

“I like to keep people moving,” said Rubell. “It’s totally legitimate that people get bored.”

Pigs, Turkeys

Dinner in the Beaux Arts court with a soaring skylight ceiling will draw on Beuys’s 1965 performance “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare.” Plans call for serving 150 rabbits, 2 pigs, 16 turkeys and 9 legs of beef. Guests may have to don a butcher’s smock and wield sharp tools to carve for themselves.

“I’ve invited some guests who might be particularly skilled at carving,” said Rubell. “Mario Batali was like, ‘I want those rabbits!’”

The dessert will be served in the lobby once guests have bashed Warhol’s big head, which will hang on steel cables in the atrium. Tickets for the dessert and after-party are $75.

After seeing people’s delight at destroying Koons’s rabbits, Rubell decided to create “an opportunity to destroy another clear icon of 20th-century art,” she said.

Brooklyn Ball will take place on April 22, 6:30 p.m.-12 a.m., at 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. Information: +1-718-501-6423; http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/calendar/event/3111

To contact the reporter of this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at kkazakina@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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