Art world cognoscenti jetted in from five continents as old guard stalwarts bowed in in their typical understated style and fresh faces in the social scene drove up in their Maseratis and Bentleys — each arriving at the Menil Collection in his own manner Friday night but each with the shared mission of celebrating the museum's 25th anniversary.
Both the glitteratti and the silk-stocking crowd delved deep into their pockets for the gala (only the third in the museum's history), resulting in unexpected proceeds of close to $3 million, twice the hoped-for goal. Even before bidding on the 31 stellar art works offered in the silent auction, museum coffers had swelled by $2.2 million.
The decidedly glamorous crowd included Allison Sarofim, her beau, Stuart Parr, and her table of gents from New York.
More than 700 strong, the black-tie crowd initiated the evening in the Renzo Piano-designed museum for cocktails and tours of the various exhibitions featuring works by Renee Magritte, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Yves Klein, whose blue series inspired the gala theme. In the grand foyer where Klein's works were hung, gala chairs — Franci Crane, Sara Dodd-Spickelmier, Isabel Lummis, Susan de Menil and Karen Pinson — welcomed the international coterie.
German art dealer and DIA Art Foundation co-founder Heiner Friedrich (ex-husband of Philippa de Menil), table designer/interior designer Liana Yaroslavsky of Paris, Vogue international editor at large Hamish Bowles, event planner extraordinaire Ben Bourgeois of Los Angeles and Architectural Digest contributor Carlos Mota were among them. In from New York were honorary chairs Almine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, grandson of Pablo Picasso.
Act two of the evening took place in a massive rectangular tent, complete with hardwood floors, gauzy draping, ample air-conditioning and shades of blue lighting. The serene, minimalist decor was a collaborative effort between the Menil's exhibition designer Brooke Stroud and event designer Rebekah Johnson. While the subtle blue lighting was a nod to Klein's oeuvre, the rotating light-filled boxes overhead served as a visual flourish echoing Robert Matta's cube esthetic.
The evening was blessedly short on program with video screens at each end of the tent telling the museum story in streaming photos and film. Museum director Josef Helfenstein and Louisa Sarofim, who has served as museum chair since the death of museum founder Dominique de Menil in 1998, provided the only commentary.
By night's end, the diverse crowd had become one as they juked and jived in unison to the rocking sounds of Party on the Moon.
The decidedly glamorous crowd included Allison Sarofim, her beau Stuart Parr and her table of gents from New York, Janet and Paul Hobby, Marcy Taub Wessell and Tom Wessell, Lynn Wyatt, Elise and Russell Joseph, Francoise and Edward Djerejian, Janie C. Lee and David Warren, Eliza and Stewart Stedman, Ann and Peter Brown, Becca Cason Thrash, John Thrash, Nancy Allen and Menil biographer William Middleton.
By night's end, the diverse crowd had become one as they juked and jived in unison to the rocking sounds of Party on the Moon. On the dance floor, we spotted a rollicking Mel Chin, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Susie and Sanford Criner, Bill Stern, Winell and Doug Heron, Melanie Gray and Mark Wawro, Kathryn Mosbacher, Heidi and David Gerger, Carbina and Steven Owsley and Betty and Stephen Newton.