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ART AND ABOUT: Sparks flew when the worlds of art, fashion and film mixed together at the Whitney Museum’s annual gala on Monday night.

The parade of celebrities walking the red carpet in Versace gowns slit up-to-there left the usual museum patrons a bit bewildered.

This story first appeared in the October 21, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Is that Lady Gaga?” said one matron to her escort.

“No, it’s Lindsay Lohan,” came the reply.

Several woman swooned over Gerard Butler, while other guests ogled Mischa Barton, Lake Bell, Taylor Momsen and Donatella Versace, who sponsored the evening.

Even Evelyn Lauder, whose husband Leonard was honored for his tireless work for the institution, got into the spirit by sporting a gown with cut-outs and sequins. “It was the only one with sleeves,” she said. “I mean, I’m a grandmother — I have to have sleeves.”

All the hububb meant that legendary artists Ellsworth Kelly and Claes Oldenberg went almost completely unnoticed, but at least it was a new crowd.

They may not be art collectors like co-host Liz Swig, Melva Bucksbaum and Beth DeWoody, but many of the celebs have found their own way around that.

“I have ‘paint parties,’” said Barton. “I put up blank canvases on the wall and everyone comes over and paints on them.”

Shakira also indulges her creative side. “I make sculpture,” said the pint-sized singer. “I used to paint fried eggs—I was in a phase.”

“I draw, but only cartoon figures, so I would never make it into a museum like this,” said Jennifer Hudson, who luckily has another talent that got her in the door: her mid-dinner performance received a standing ovation.

After dinner on the museum’s fourth floor (which Bronson Van Wyck transformed into a veritable jungle), guests headed downstairs for the Studio Party. While PYTs tried in vain to get Butler’s number, Lohan, Alexa Chung, Chanel Iman, Charlotte Ronson and Leigh Lezark hung out with friends.

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