The Whitney Presents Google's Marissa Mayer With Its American Art Award
There were plenty of construction materials lying around at last night's 20th annual Whitney American Art Award and Groundbreaking Gala, from teal shovels hung like chandeliers to orange construction netting bouquets used as centerpieces.
"The decor is really just kickass—minimal and low-cost," said art collector Amy Phelan as she peered up at the shovels. Phelan, along with everyone else, left her hard hat at home for the party at the future site of the museum—a tract of Manhattan's Meatpacking District that is being reimagined by architect Renzo Piano—and opted to wear a decorative headpiece instead. "I was inspired by the Royal Wedding; I would say it's downtown chic with a royal twist."
Phelan was joined at the dinner by other art world types like Lorna Simpson, Richard Tuttle, and Tauba Auerbach. Google's Marissa Mayer, who was being honored with the 2011 American Art Award, created by Ellsworth Kelly, was quick to admit that she's not one of them.
"My mom is an art teacher, and when I was little she had me do a watercolor of a geranium," Mayer told Style.com before dinner. "I realized I wasn't very good when I looked at her painting and the real geranium and saw that mine looked nothing like either of those things."
Mayer might not be artistically inclined, but the Google exec has led the way in honoring inventions and designs on the company's homepage through the "doodles" program, inviting world-renowned artists to create custom art for the site. (Currently, Google is partnering with the Whitney Museum to promote the Doodle 4 Google contest.) After Mayer received her award, Debbie Harry stepped on stage. "Have you had any dessert yet?" she asked. Harry answered her own question, serving up a batch of Blondie songs to sweeten up the evening.