Doing its turn on the art-world-party catwalk, the Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Gala – themed Art Plus Fashion – raised nearly £350,000 last night.
A catwalk was installed in the main gallery for four young designers to show mini-collections, while videos made by artists ran behind them. Hiroaki Kanai’s voluminous men’s coats make him a name to watch, while Sabina Bryntesson’s cap-hoodie-burqa combinations were a little too capital-F fashion.
A charity art auction with works donated by Bridget Riley, Cornelia Parker and Bob and Roberta Smith brought in £48,600 as Oliver Barker of Sotheby’s wielded the gavel. The most expensive lot was Minerva Cuevas’ Admiralty (pictured left), a vintage oil painting covered in dripping tar, which went for £9,500.
The actual value of the evening will be double the amount raised because the government is matching the Whitechapel Gallery’s fundraising pound for pound, Rob Taylor, chairman of the Whitechapel Gallery board, told me after some enthusiastic bidding for a couple of the lots. Last night’s funds go to the Whitechapel’s education programme.
COMING IN THE middle of a mini-art-world-party season, the Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Gala – helmed by Nadja Swarovski, gallery director Iwona Blazwick and committee chair Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst – uses its position in East London to attract a younger crowd.
Pictured above: Outfits by Trine Hav Christensen and Craig Green at the Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Plus Fashion gala
‘One of the reasons I came to London two months ago was everybody was saying, “London is the most exiting art city at the moment,”‘ Whitechapel’s new chief curator Magnus af Petersens told me. He also hoped the art-fashion theme would bring in those who are ‘not necessarily gallery-goers’.
The excellent canapés were by Angela Hartnett and there was plenty of champagne, though being on duty I stuck to Firefly’s non-alcoholic fruity concoctions, which seemed like posh versions of Five Alive.
Stephanie Dieckvoss, director of Art13, the new global art fair which launched earlier this month, said she was looking forward to a warm holiday after the exertions of the fair. She’s taking her family to the Canary Islands: ‘Very unglamorous!’
Before then, Stephanie is going to Art Dubai (warm, but not a holiday) and putting the strategic plans for Art14 to bed.
IN THE AUCTION, a copy of Kate: The Kate Moss Book signed by Kate Moss went for a modest £500, in line with low prices for other more fashion-related items like a Giles Deacon water-colour (£1,000) and a signed copy of Vivienne Westwood’s heavy-duty book (£1,400). The appetite was for the artier lots.
Pictured above: Sabina Bryntesson’s cap-hoodie-burqa combinations at the Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Plus Fashion gala
The mixture of art and fashion, while long-established, did not sit well with some of the art-world luminaries in attendance; one felt that it was both old hat and not quite right for Whitechapel’s audience. This was reflected in the seeming preponderance of fashion people at the gala – it felt like there were fewer heavy-hitting artists than last year.
Guests included Iwona Blazwick OBE, Whitechapel Gallery Director, Nadja Swarovski, Member of Swarovski’s Executive Board, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, Art Plus Chair, Justine Picardie, Harper’s Bazaar Editor-in-Chief, Agi & Sam, Francesca Amfitheatrof, Charles Avery, Fiona Banner, Edouard Benveniste-Schuler, Bishi Bhattacharya, Zarina Bhimji, Lara Bohinc, Dinos Chapman, Eudon Choi, Veronica Chou, Nancy Dell’Olio, Jasmine Guinness, Otis Ferry, Bella Freud, Nicholas Kirkwood, Christian Marclay, Maureen Paley, Peter Pilotto, Mark-Francis Romanovsky, Greta Scacchi, Marios Schwab, Conrad Shawcross, Bob and Roberta Smith, Brigitte Stepputtis, Edward Tang, Christopher Taylor, Philip Treacy, Julie Verhoeven, Sue Webster and Tim Noble.