On Saturday night, the Lehmann Maupin gallery on the Lower East Side was a full house for a dinner party celebrating Sandro Kopp and his latest exhibition, “There You Are,” a series of oil portraits of Kopp’s friends taken from Skype sitting sessions. Most of the subjects of the paintings were on hand (Ryan McGinley, Waris Ahluwalia, Terence Koh), swilling cocktails and admiring their (generally unsmiling) renderings. “I’m very happy,” Kopp said of the party, amid greeting his guests, “and extremely indebted to all my sitters….Quite literally, without them none of this would have been possible.” Of the sittings themselves, Kopp added, “It was this idea of painting from live video chats…a hybrid of a painting done from life and a painting done from a photograph.” In a meta-twist (life-imitating-art-imitating-life), Wes Anderson Skyped in to e-join in the festivities and was given a guided tour of the exhibition via a laptop carried by Kopp, Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand.
Suddenly the entryway was taken over by a small commotion: A series of gigantic bronze helium balloons spelling “KOPP” had entered the gallery. Their handler was obscured by the crowd. “Who is that?” said Demet Muftuoglu, the founder of Istanbul’74 and co-founder of Istancool festival (a cultural summit-cum-festival that incorporates fashion, music, film and design). It was Gina Gershon and Michael Stipe. The latter presented the artist with the balloons and took to the gallery-turned-dining room with a flute of Champagne, snapping camera-phone photos of oil portraits of participants with the glass in front of them. “They’re great,” Stipe grinned of the works. “And there I am, over there.” Sure enough, there he was, on the south wall.
This story first appeared in the January 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.