The Week in Art: MTV RE:DEFINE Gala, Swann Auctions 75th Anniversary Party
This week's best art events.
Though it may seem that Armory Week and Frieze Week get all the action, the reality is that there is never a dull moment in the New York art world. From the East Side to the West Side, there’s always something happening at the city’s museums, galleries, and various event spaces. The wider American art scene also provides plenty of action, as was the case this week, with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation teaming up with the Dallas Contemporary and the Goss-Michael Foundation for the sixth annual MTV RE:DEFINE benefit. Here’s a rundown of this week’s highlights.
MTV RE:DEFINE Benefit at the Dallas Contemporary
The Dallas Contemporary joined forces with the Goss-Michael Foundation and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, dedicated to promoting HIV awareness and prevention, to host the sixth annual MTV RE:DEFINE Benefit on March 24.
The evening served as the kickoff to the new Dallas Art Month—because everything is bigger in Texas, and a week was no longer enough. Guests were treated to a performance by Chaka Khan, a three-course meal, and a dance party with entertainment by DJ Johnny Boy Hartig and DJ Dilettante.
The night’s honorees were painter Eric Fischl and fashion designer Johnson Hartig, and special tribute was paid to the late singer and art collector George Michael, co-founder of the Goss-Michael Foundation with his former partner Kenny Goss.
An exhibition/benefit auction, curated by Neville Wakefield, helped raise $2.7 million. Artists Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Shepard Fairey, Pedro Reyes, Ugo Rondinone, and Richard Phillips all had works on offer. Highlights included a $300,000 Marc Quinn and a $230,000 Julio LeParc, but the top lot was a Damien Hirst portrait of Michael, which fetched $580,000 in a live auction conducted by Brook Hazelton of Christie’s.
Celebrating 75 years of Auctions at Swann Auction Galleries
Swann Auction Galleries held its 75th anniversary party at its offices on March 27, giving guests a preview of the house’s most exciting spring auction lots, including works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Alexander Calder. Nicholas D. Lowry, the auction house’s president, gave a rousing toast recognizing the achievements of three-quarters of a century and thanking “Swanners” for turning out in full force for the occasion.
For those unfamiliar with Swann’s history, there were posters listing milestones like the country’s first dedicated photography auction, which the house held in 1952. Also of note was a list of strange objects potential sellers had tried and failed to consign with Swann, like a supposed Charlie Chaplin sex tape and “a meticulously catalogued collection of 449,409 American phonecards from the 1990s.”
The Photography Show Presented by AIPAD Vernissage at Pier 94
The art world returned to Pier 94 on March 29 for the opening of the AIPAD Photography Show, with collectors coming to enjoy the offerings of more than 100 galleries from the Association of International Photography Dealers. The night also saw the presentation of the inaugural AIPAD Award, won by curator Sandra Phillips, who retired in 2016 after 30 years at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Anne Wilkes Tucker, who founded the photography department at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, where she has worked for almost 40 years.
A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures hosted by the National Trust for Scotland at the Metropolitan Club
The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA held its 10th anniversary celebration on March 29. Guests reveled in all things Scottish, from whisky and haggis to poetry and dancing. A bagpiper welcomed the crowd—many decked out in tartan or sporting plaid flair—to a cocktail hour that featured tastings of Macallan Scotch and Snow Leopard vodka.
Alasdair Nichol, a Scot who is also vice chairman of Freemans auction house in Philadelphia, was on hand to give a rousing rendition of poet Robert Burns’ Ode to Haggis, and there was also Scottish country dancing to the tunes of a restored 18th-century fiddle. This year, the foundation honored filmmaker Ken Burns with its Great Scot award. The gala raised nearly $400,000 to support the work of Scotland’s largest conservation and preservation charity.
Medair First Annual Gala at Stephan Weiss Studio
Medair, an international emergency relief organization that works to provide for women and children around the globe, held its first gala on March 30, enlisting a number of street artists, including Shepard Fairey and Logan Hicks, to donate works to an auction run by Sotheby’s.
The elegant black-tie event welcomed guests including designer Cynthia Rowley, art publishing magnate Alexandre Assouline, and artists Cern, City Kitty, and Thrashbird. The night’s entertainment featured a performance by Too Many Zooz.
Salotto “Angela Missoni” at Missoni Boutique
Artist Melissa McGill talked about her upcoming project The Campi, coinciding with the Venice Biennale this summer, and the third year of her Hudson River installation, Constellation, at an intimate cocktail party on March 29 at the Missoni Boutique.
Teaming up with Kreemart founder Raphael Castoriano, creative director Angela Missoni has transformed the store into a “fairytale re-imagination” of her own living room, the second “Surface Conversation” installation for the brand. Guests included curator Paris Murray Celant, artist Nir Hod, Marian Goodman Gallery senior director Rose Lord, and Stephanie Roach of the FLAG Art Foundation.
Screening of The Zookeeper’s Wife at the Soho House and Fort Gansevoort
Fabiola Beracasa Beckman, Carolyn Tate Angel, and Bettina Prentice co-hosted a screening of The Zookeeper’s Wife in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Tuesday, March 28. The film, which tells the true story of a couple who helped over 300 Jews escape the Warsaw ghetto by hiding them at the zoo, is incredibly timely in light of the current worldwide refugee crisis. That parallel was explored in a post-screening talk with the IRC’s Philip Carroll and an Afghani refugee.
Guests, who included Doreen Remen, Rosie Assoulin, Casey Fremont, Countess Donata von Kanitz, and Adam Shopkorn, enjoyed a reception at Shopkorn’s nearby gallery, Fort Gansevoort. He co-curated the current exhibition, “March Madness,” which explores the intersection of athleticism and feminism, with artist Hank Willis Thomas.
Tabor Robak Art Unveiling at the Microsoft Flagship Store
Computer giant Microsoft and contemporary art might seem like strange bedfellows, but the company has enlisted Brooklyn-based digital media artist Tabor Robak to create a new work for the flagship Microsoft store in New York. The two were brought together by Joshua Roth through his artist management company UTA Fine Arts, an outgrowth of United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills. Guests enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the store on March 30 as Robak unveiled the piece, an interactive digital art installation.
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