Lady Gaga and Klaus Biesenbach Sappily Reminisce at National Arts Awards—What’s Next?
"My name is not Lady Gaga."
“I’m here tonight because you’ve accepted me, but you’ve actually accepted someone who is not me,” Lady Gaga told a crowd of over 400 completely enthralled guests at Monday night’s National Arts Awards at which she was presented with the Young Artist Award by Americans for the Arts. “My name is not Lady Gaga. My name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. I am an Italian-American artist. I was not born blonde… I over time [looked at so many artists] that I invented something that was much stronger than I ever could have been on my own.”
Lady Gaga was among various high-profile honorees, which included Sophia Loren, Herbie Hancock, Alice Walton, and Maria Arena Bell. But it was the pop star that even the most dignified of art worlders were squirming to catch a glimpse of. She arrived toward the end of the cocktail hour alongside her parents in a glittering red Marc Jacobs dress with her signature swath of platinum blonde hair set with classic Hollywood curls, and was presented with a Young Artist Award by friend and MoMA PS1 curator at large Klaus Biesenbach.
Biesenbach, who had a busy night, appearing first at the Park Hyatt for the New York Times‘ TasteMasters conversation series, called her “one of the most recognizable people in the world.”
Over the course of her ten-minute acceptance speech, during which the massive chamber of Cipriani’s 42nd Street fell dead silent, the starlet was moved to tears when discussing the transformative power of art and the sacrifices made by her parents to give her a proper arts education.
“I think it’s very fitting today that it’s a curator—and so much more—who is introducing me, because that word ‘cure’ in the word ‘curator’ is the best way that I can define what art has done for me. It has cured me,” she told the audience.
Gaga also mused on her friendship with Biesenbach, which incited both excited giggles and anguished groans from guests, depending on their feelings on the celebrity-obsessed curator. “It was at least five years ago that I met and worked with Klaus through a collaboration I was doing with Terence Koh. We were in the MoMA, and I went over to him and I said, ‘Klaus, what did you think?’ And he said, ‘It’s not art yet.’ And I was like fuck! But I would see him around, and I would keep performing, and I would ask him to come. . .and he continued to come over the years, and then the collaborations became more and more frequent, and I saw him more and more, and it’s like one day he just went ‘okay, I hear you. I hear you.'”
While it’s not entirely clear from her statement what Gaga and Biesenbach were doing at the Museum of Modern Art when he told her she wasn’t yet an artist, a slight variation story has been told before by David Byrne.
Biesenbach, for his part, used the opportunity to drop a few names: “I know her through the great artist Terence Koh,” he recalled. “I was there when she worked with Francesco Vezzoli. I saw her perform with Marina Abramovic. And I think one of the most endearing friendships I have had the chance to witness is that between Gaga and Jeff Koons.”
To his credit, however, he may have been trying to boost his famous friend’s art world street cred.
“What I always wanted, more than anything, was to be taken seriously as a performer and as a fine artist at the same time,” Gaga admitted. “And tonight is the closest I might ever come to that—if ever at all, because that’s nearly impossible.”
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