Whitney Celebrates Founder and Fashion

This is wonderful,” Lisa Anastos cooed as a mix of celebrities, artists, collectors, and glitterati celebrated at the annual Whitney Art Party at the New York downtown hot spot Skylight last night. “In these times, art is a wonderful thing to look at and appreciate,” the longtime Whitney enthusiast added.

This year's party is the 11th such affair, put on annually by the Whitney Museum of American Arts Whitney Contemporaries, a group for art patrons aged 21 to 40. The event benefits the museum’s Independent Study Program and other education initiatives, but museum organizers dubbed it “Art Party” to remind guests that the night is about the work more than anything. A pink neon sign designed by the event’s production firm, Van Wyck & Van Wyck, flashed the same words across the chic space, as if to drive home the message.

In the past several years, the party has increasingly gained the support of fashion-industy leaders, including Zac Posen, Calvin Klein, and the BCBGMAXAZRIA Group, which served as a sponsor this year for the third time running; the 2009 fete was also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the BCBGMAXAZRIA brand. Artist Mark Fox, who donated work for the silent auction, collaborated with Lubov Azria, Max Azrias wife and the creative director of BCBGMAXAZRIA Group, to produce an umbrella exclusively for the evening’s guests, which includes a 1931 quote from museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney on the inside: “It is especially in times like these that we need to look to the spiritual. In art we find it.” Van Wyck used the quote as inspiration for the event’s décor.

Fox said that when Whitney opened the museum in the 1930s, the economy was reminiscent of the current climate. For his piece Cataract (2009), he cut up Whitney’s quote, written on latex-covered paper, and reassembled the pieces into what he called “a waterfall of words.” The piece sold online for $13,000 before the party.

Artist Rashid Johnson donated his piece The Prince of Mathematics Loves Outerspace (2009), a triptych of silver gelatin prints and paint on canvas, which also sold prior to the event, for $5,600.

Other attendees included Whitney Museum Director Adam Weinberg; artists Mike and Doug Starn, Joseph LaPiana, and Terence Koh; Creative Time Director Anne Pasternak; actress Camilla Belle; John Kerrys daughter Alexandra; girl-about-town Tinsley Mortimer; and Bruce Willis and Demi Moores daughter Tallulah Willis.

Click on the photo gallery at left to see shots from this year's Whitney Art Party.