“We never want to have a straight beatnik-themed party, so we flipped it and we made it ‘Up Beat,'” said Casey Fremont of the evening’s theme, inspired by honoree Jeff Koons and the Beat Generation.
Fremont, executive director of The Art Production Fund, was standing in The Seagram Building in Manhattan, where the fund’s annual benefit was held Monday night. Upon arrival, guests were greeted by a string duo performing the “Game of Thrones” theme song and upstairs, there was no shortage of activities. Laurie Simmons took guests’ portraits at one end and at the other, balloon re-creations of Jeff Koons’ “Puppy” were blown up on demand. Somewhere in the middle, underneath the mezzanine where the Bruce Harris Quartet and emcee for the evening June Ambrose sat, there was a temporary tattoo station with work by Nina Chanel Abney. Up beat, indeed.
“It’s a wonderful time in the art world,” said Koons. “Within the world that we live, sometimes we can feel the lack of empathy. We have the opportunity as individuals to really define and share with people the values that we find important, that help make us as individuals better people and also help the community to become vaster and wiser and a better format for future generations.”
By contrast, fellow honoree Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn of Salon 94 declared that the art world is in a state of emergency. “What I’m seeing right now is there’s a lot of activism,” she said. “Artists like Marilyn Minter all the way down to a younger artist are all engaged in a very certain type of activism. That is very different than it was five years ago.”
Asked whether she viewed that as a positive or negative, Rohatyn added, “We’re in an emergency moment. It’s not a positive or a negative, it is we are in emergency mode and we all have to pay attention. It’s a function of what has happened in America and the taking over of our presidency and power by somebody who shouldn’t be there.”
The benefit drew artists and lovers of art alike, including Tory Burch, Mia Moretti, Zoe Buckman, Maria Borges, siblings Larry and Toby Milstein, J. Alexander aka Miss J., Stacey Bendet and Lynn Ban, decked out in full Comme des Garçons.
In honor of the benefit, artists FriendsWithYou re-created their 10-foot “Little Cloud” sculpture as centerpieces for each table. The smiling clouds glowed in the dimmed lighting, serving as both ice breakers and reminders of the night’s theme, even as the string duet paid tribute to Hubert de Givenchy with a beautiful and poignant rendition of “Moon River.”
More from WWD.com:
Art Production Fund and FriendsWithYou Unveil ‘Little Cloud’ Sculpture at The Street