Unseasonably cool temperatures and a persistent drizzle couldn’t stop the art crowd from turning out for the Museum of Modern Art’s annual Party in the Garden on Tuesday night. Thelma Golden, Chuck Close, Wendi Murdoch, Tamara Mellon, Arianna Huffington, Rachel Feinstein, Jeff Koons and more were escorted through the museum’s Rockefeller Sculpture Garden by umbrella-wielding men, and most took cover indoors. So much for a garden party.
Artists Kara Walker and Richard Serra were honored, both garnering praise from their contemporaries. “[I’m a fan of] Kara as a fellow woman artist since we’re in the minority, and Richard is just an enigma, he’s a master,” said Cindy Sherman, who wore Dior. Leelee Sobieski — arriving without husband Adam Kimmel, who sits on the board of directors for MoMA PS1 — agreed. “I love Richard Serra’s work because you can really experience it,” she said. “When it’s in a sculpture garden it grows, things start growing in it and around it and spider webs form and children can get lost in it — a lot of things can happen.”
Both the honorees gave due thanks to MoMA. “Sometimes there are museums and institutions that support us and support the visions of artists who bring something to the world that we never could imagine being there before the artist made it,” Walker said. For Serra’s part, the museum was a resource and inspiration while studying for his master’s of fine arts in painting at Yale. “There was a diversity and a debate among contemporary artists and I wanted to become a part of that dialogue,” he recalled. (This was the second distinction he received this week — Serra also snagged the French Legion of Honor Award on Monday.)
The evening’s true star, though, was David Rockefeller, whose mother founded the museum and who turns 100 on June 12. “It’s going to be a yearlong celebration and tonight’s the kickoff,” said his granddaughter Ariana. Harvard a cappella group the Krokodiloes traveled from Boston to serenade Mr. Rockefeller, and the dinner menu featured Maine lobster and blueberries in honor of his family’s summer vacation home. (To celebrate his birthday, he’s donating 1,000 acres on Mount Desert Island to a local nonprofit.) When the microphone was passed to the centenarian, he simply said, “Thank you all for a wonderful, wonderful evening.”
Back out in the garden, a younger, more raucous set who cared less about the rain danced and sang and waved their iPhones as The Weeknd performed his hits as well as X-rated covers of Beyoncé and Ariana Grande.
It appeared that most of Rockefeller clan skipped the after party.