The naked men and women at the Whitney Museum of American Art gala stood on a platform surrounded by luggage from sponsor Louis Vuitton.
Among the fully clothed last night were Citadel LLC Chief Executive Officer Ken Griffin; J. Michael Evans, the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. vice chairman who will leave his post at year’s end; and William Ruprecht, the CEO of Sotheby’s.
Guests looked on as artists sketched the models, capturing the curve of an arm or a fine rump resting on the trunks.
No one gawked too long during the party held at Skylight at Moynihan Station, which raised more than $2.7 million. There were just too many distractions, from the strips of bacon being served at the bar (crispy, not caramelized, by the way), to greeting Leonard Lauder, one of the Whitney’s biggest patrons. There were also chances to spot actress Michelle Williams, dealer Larry Gagosian and honoree Ed Ruscha.
By the end of the evening, Ruscha was sketching a portrait of Salman Rushdie’s girlfriend, Missy Brody, fully clothed. She provided Ruscha with a notebook -- every guest received one at their place setting along with a Sharpie. Ruscha made a text portrait.
During dinner, the artist received a gift from the Whitney: a booklet titled “A Few Various Colorful People and a Glass of Milk,” filled with personal notes collected for the occasion.
He said he would read every page, then made a joke about the Metropolitan Museum of Art renting space at “Aunt Gertie’s boardinghouse” -- the Whitney’s uptown building, being vacated next year when it moves to the Meatpacking District. “Gertie” of course is Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who founded the museum after the Met turned down a gift of hundreds of paintings.
Ruscha got to choose the musical entertainment: David Byrne, who serenaded guests with three songs including “I Should Watch TV,” from his album with St. Vincent.
The goody bag offered a copy of the album as well as a copy of Ruscha’s book “They Called Her Styrene,” donated by the owners of Phaidon Press, Apollo Global Management LLC’s Leon Black and his wife, Debra Black.
At the after party, watching artists sketch live models was replaced by a photo booth where people could pose with signs showing phrases from Ruscha paintings, such as: “Headlights Are Similar to People’s Eyes” and “Those of Us Who Have Double Parked.”
The guests here included actresses Taylor Schilling, who stars in “Orange Is the New Black,” and Zoe Kravitz.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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