Coachella aside, the fashion and art crowd rarely retreats to the desert. Though on Monday afternoon, some of the art world’s biggest players were swarming around Ugo Rondinone’s “Seven Magic Mountains,” an installation of seven soaring limestone sculptures erected outside Las Vegas.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air after Frieze [New York art fair],” said Yvonne Force Villareal, cofounder of Art Production Fund, which collaborated with the Nevada Museum of Art on the exhibition, being eyed by a throng of Champagne-touting spectators. The installation, a series of boulders pilings painted in surreal day-glow colors, which pop across the arid landscape, is one of the most ambitious land art works in the past 40 years. “It’s our biggest project, too, and Vegas had the space and need for public art on this scale.”
Dressed in a white maxidress from Tommy Hilfiger with a pair of matching gold chain bracelets on each arm, she heeded Rondinone’s requested attire. Unfortunately, the white-only-please dress code memo wasn’t publicized, so many guests wore vibrant fashions as an homage to the rainbow-favoring Swiss artist. Nevada Museum of Art board trustee Denise Cashman posed against a Malibu Barbie pink boulder in a shirtdress of the same hue, while other attendees donned various iterations of “Mad Max” desert-chic. Nearly everyone had the good sense to wear Western boots that quickly accumulated a patina of dust. “We do things differently out here in the desert,” said Cashman.
As attendees sipped Dom Pérignon in the baking sun, APF executive director Casey Fremont assured a concerned gentleman that a 35-foot cairn whose boulders each weigh an average of 40,000 pounds wouldn’t topple over on him. “Don’t worry. It’s solidly built, sir.”
“Everyone can relate to balancing stones. Every child has tried to do this with a pile of rocks,” said Rondinone, before receiving the key to the city. “I hope you all fall under the spell of the magic mountains. Viva Las Vegas!”
More than 200 guests including gallery owners Sadie Coles, Barbara Gladstone and Eva Presenhuber; APF cofounder Doreen Remen; Nevada Museum of Art executive director and ceo David B. Walker, and its curatorial director and curator of contemporary art JoAnne Northrup; Nicholas Baume; Leo Villareal; Marlies Verhoeven Reijtenbagh; Simone Battisti, and Natalie Kovacs headed to dinner at presenting sponsor Aria Resort & Casino’s Bardot Brasserie. At the entrance, a table displayed mini-boulders in seven colors — part of a limited-edition series, each priced at $500. To inspire swift sales, the works went up to $1,000 the following day. Being a savvy shopper, Beth Rudin DeWoody immediately ordered the full set upon walking in. “I’ll take one of each at today’s price please.”