November 17, 2014 @ the Altman Building
"Anything for a good cause!" Gagosian Gallery's Derek Blasberg exclaimed to A.i.A. at RxArt's 14th annual benefit party Monday night in New York. The event co-chair's buoyant mood could be explained by the sale of the colorful painting contributed by the evening's honoree, neo-pop graffiti artist KAWS (real name Brian Donnelly), which sold at the event's silent auction for $220,000.
The auction proves to be a nail-biting affair every year for the New York nonprofit, which commissions contemporary artists to enliven children's hospitals with site-specific installations (previous collaborators include Jeff Koons and Rob Pruitt). "This party raises 80 percent of our operational funds, so it really determines what we're able to accomplish in the following year," Jillian Siegel, director of development for the organization, told A.i.A. By the end of the night, the auction total came to just under $608,000.
Co-chaired by Blasberg, Agnes Gund, Honor Fraser and Emmanuel Perrotin, the silent and live auctions included works by KAWS, Pruitt, Walead Beshty, Mark Hagen, Walter Robinson, Terry Richardson and Lawrence Weiner, among others. Artist Nate Lowman served as DJ.
The event brought out art dealers, collectors, artists, museum professionals and philanthropists. Among the many artists present were KAWS, Ryan McGinness, Chloe Wise, Erik Parker and Jose Parla. Also in attendance was collector Alberto Mugrabi, socialite Fabiola Beracasa and gallerists such as Perrotin, Mary Boone, Fraser and Half Gallery's Bill Powers, who serves on RxArt's board of directors. "I went to see the CT scan Jeff Koons did in Chicago," he recalled. (Last March, Koons adorned the CT scanner and surrounding exam room at Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., with decals featuring the artist's monkeys, balloon dogs, hanging hearts and other works.) "To make something that can be a terrifying experience feel a little safer, or less threatening for kids that are already in a troublesome spot, I think is a great thing," Powers said.
When asked to choose a favorite work on the auction block that evening, however, some partygoers were at a loss. "That's like Sophie's Choice!" Siegel lamented. Casey Fremont, director of Art Production Fund, was more decisive. "My favorite work is by Jeanette Hayes (Madame de Blanzay and Madame de Jigglypuff, 2014). She's a brilliant artist. I am obsessed with her Instagram. She's hysterical and smart, and I love her little jewel box piece." Powers came to a similar conclusion. "Selfishly I would say Daniel Heidkamp because we did a show together uptown. But I also really like Jeanette Hayes's with the Pokémon."
For contributing artist Chloe Wise, parting with her Bagel No. 5 purse was an emotional experience. "I feel like a mom who has dropped her kid off at daycare! That bagel's been through a lot. Ultimately, Wise felt ready to let go of her baby. "I'm happy to see it in this context. It's for charity-how could you say no? It's pretty honorable. And [now I'm] waiting on my collab with Russ & Daughters!"