MOCA Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary
Source:Artinfo.com Date: 2009-11-17 Size:
About a year ago, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) appeared to be on the verge of death, as its endowment was bled dry by epic exhibitions and the formidable economic crisis. As the institution celebrated its 30th anniversary with a plush gala on Saturday night, though, it had never looked so stable — thanks to a hefty bailout from philanthropist Eli Broad—or so hip—thanks to a powerhouse group of celebrities and art world wonders.

 

Takashi Murakami on the Left

About a year ago, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) appeared to be on the verge of death, as its endowment was bled dry by epic exhibitions and the formidable economic crisis. As the institution celebrated its 30th anniversary with a plush gala on Saturday night, though, it had never looked so stable — thanks to a hefty bailout from philanthropist Eli Broad — or so hip — thanks to a powerhouse group of celebrities and art world wonders.

Hosted by Russian art wunderkind Dasha Zhukova and super-dealer Larry Gagosian, the event, held at the museum, featured an unusual collaborative performance by the irrepressible Italian provocateur Francesco Vezzoli and Lady Gaga. Accompanied by a coterie of dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet, Lady Gaga debuted her song “Speechless” at a violently pink piano decorated with butterflies courtesy of Damien Hirst. The piano was auctioned off after the event to raise money for the museum.

The audience also included some surprises, including musician-couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale and pop star Ciara. Gore Vidal, who featured prominently in Vezzoli’s sublimely disturbing trailer for a fictional remake of Caligula, made an appearance on the pink carpet into the venue, as did actress Eva Mendes, who strolled along the photographer’s alley in a sophisticated tan and black dress.

One somewhat unsurprising member of the audience was actor James Franco, who has been attending art parties in recent months with remarkable diligence. He walked the carpet in a gray suit accompanied by his longtime girlfriend, actress Ahna O’Reilly, who wore a glimmering green satin dress that could have been plucked straight out of a Tamara de Lempicka painting.

Art world denizens also made a potent showing at the event, and Renaissance men Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami, who have collaborated on past projects, were seen talking, posing for photographs together, and attracting a great deal of attention. Williams has re-branded himself in recent years as a furniture designer and visual artist, roles that some felt he might quickly abandon as he moved on to new projects or as the glamour of the boom years faded. His presence on Saturday, however, suggested that his interest in visual culture was more than a passing fashion choice and provided a hopeful sign that popular interest in contemporary visual art may outlast the excesses of the past few years and emerge, like MOCA, unscathed.

[Editor] Elemy Liu

    Artintern