NEW YORK — A 1,000-strong legion of socialites, celebrities, artists, young collectors, and art enthusiasts stormed Skylight at Moynihan Station, a cavernous venue housed inside a historic Beaux Art-style post office on 33rd street and 9th avenue in Manhattan, at the Whitney’s annual Art Party last night. Sponsored by Max Mara and hosted by the Whitney Contemporaries, the museum’s group of art patrons under 40, the party courted the youth vote with Gen-Y celebrity appearances, a steady playlist of Hot 97 jams, and a party-hardy, haute bar-mitzvah vibe.
Olivia Wilde and Adam Driver, the actor who plays Hannah Horvath’s millennial mystery prince on the HBO viral dramady “Girls,” popped Chandon alongside art world denizens Urs Fischer, Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, Ambra Medda, Michael Avedon, Lola Schnabel, and fashion insiders Rebecca Minkoff, Hanneli Mustaparta, and Giovanna Battaglia. Seagram’s liquor heiresses and eco-lifestyle it girl Hannah Bronfman — who served as honorary co-chair alongside actress Nichole Galicia and Max Mara scion Maria Giulia Maramotti — danced to Jennifer Lopez’s “We Can Get Right” in green leather Max Mara culottes and matching false eyelashes. “I grew up in New York and the Whitney is a staple,” said Bronfman. “The Whitney is always so generous when it comes to advocating for young contemporary artists. I think the move downtown is an excellent choice and one that I'll be greeting with open arms.”
While young financiers and socialites grinded to the contemporary sounds of Justin Beiber’s “Boyfriend” and Chris Brown “Yeah 3X” — dutifully throwing their hands in the air when instructed to do so — young collectors perused the silent auction featuring works by rising art stars including Liz Magic Laser, Kadar Brock, KAWS, Nicolas Lobo, and N. Dash. “I think this year we had a very strong group of artists from emerging to well established in a wide range of price points and media. And I’m very glad that friends of the Whitney are coming by to show their support,” said Elisabeth Sherman, who curated the silent auction alongside executive committee members Kyle DeWoody and Adam Abdalla.
For the first time, the Whitney partnered with Artsy to host a pre-sale preview, selling 19 out of the 63 works in advance. “We made $70,000 before we ever opened the doors tonight,” said Abdalla. “Joanne Cassullo had chaired the auction for years. She is the fairy godmother of the Whitney Art Party but she couldn’t do it this year. She bestowed the responsibility onto Kyle and I and we used it as an opportunity to introduce a lot of new talent to this audience of young collectors. Some of them are red hot right now. Sebastian Black, KAWS, Joshua Abelow. We tried to bring it back to the street a little bit.”
This “back to the street” ethos proved to be a lucrative one. The party raised more than $450,000 in support of the Whitney’s Independent Study Program and other education initiatives.