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July 22 2014

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The Style World’s Art Buyers On Their Whitney Acquisitions

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Tomorrow night, the Whitney throws its annual Art Party, presented by the BCBG Max Azria Group, where, beneath the air-kisses, clinking glasses, and sartorial appreciation, a good cause lurks: the museum’s Independent Study program, the beneficiary of the evening’s silent auction. Artists from Cecily Brown to Lawrence Weiner have donated works this year, and if past years are any indication, they should go fast. Style.com checked in with a few past buyers to find out what they snapped up and what they’re hoping to grab this year.

Adam Lippes
Designer, ADAM

Lippes (above right), who’s on the host committee of the event this year, came away last time with one of Rachel Owens’ glass-shard pieces (above left). “I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time,” Lippes told Style.com. “This is very strong and powerful, especially in this animal head shape.” (We’re not sure we see it, but art is in the eye of the beholder.) But powerful is right—with its jagged glass, we wondered if hanging the work at home posed a problem. “Actually, I’m afraid to touch it!” the designer said with a laugh. “I am hiring someone to hang it so I don’t sustain serious injuries.”


Lauren Goodman
Stylist and NOWNESS Fashion Editor

The newly appointed NOWNESS fashion editor (above right) snapped up one of JP Munro’s mythology-inspired works on paper (above left) at the 2006 auction. “I’ve always loved Greek mythology,” she told us. “So I thought this piece was pretty magical.” Magic on a budget, that is. “Also,” she explained, “my old boss Joe Zee told me you get great deals on art at auction.”


Eugenia Kim
Designer, Eugenia Kim

Milliner Eugenia Kim (above right) bought Ann Craven’s painting of a bird (above left) in 2009. “I think it’s a happy, pretty little painting,” she said, nothing that she’s got a soft spot for animal paintings—and a growing collection of them. “I actually have a menagerie [of paintings] in my apartment,” she continued. “This one’s a warbler, FYI. I know most of the species, just because I used to study those kind of things.” (Growing up, she’d learn about animal after animal, trying to get her mother to get one for her as a pet. She eventually wound up with a dog, Cottontail, who later found part-time work as a Eugenia Kim hat model.) Among the many benefits of her collection? It’s hypoallergenic. “I’m kind of allergic to a lot of animals,” she admits, “so I like them as images.”


Lubov Azria
Chief Creative Officer, BCBG Max Azria Group

Azria is celebrating her fourth year as the party’s sponsor this year, and very likely, fourth year as an art patron. In recent years, she and husband Max have focused on photographs, nabbing a Louise Lawler, which is displayed in her office (pictured above), in 2009, and a set of Drew Heitzler photographs (pictured below), displayed in Max’s, in 2008. “I’m the type of person, I don’t know who it’s by until I buy it—it has to be more of an emotional connection,” she says with a laugh. “When I purchased it and saw it was Louise Lawler, I was excited.”

And what about Max’s Heitzlers? “Every time we go to the event, we sort of split up—Max and I do our own thing, and at the end we end up with all this beautiful art,” Mrs. Azria explained. “I think this particular work was very personal to Max; it kind of reminded him of fifties, sixties [era] photographs, and also combining a certain vision. I like it as well. I was really surprised that we bid on it, because I didn’t think it was his taste. But I was really happy to see that we got both.”

And in her case, the art won’t be confined to the block. “I’m actually wearing Liz Magic Laser,” Azria told us of her outfit for the night, created by the up-and-coming artist. (The dress code: “downtown dressed up.”) “We did four or five [wearable] pieces that [are part of] an exhibit that’s going to travel throughout our stores and bring awareness to the Whitney and showcase the artists. I’m very excited.”


Hunt Slonem
Artist

Any purchase is a compliment, but there’s something special about an artwork being bought by a fellow artist. “I couldn’t resist,” artist Hunt Slonem told us of his winning bid for the Ellen Harvey piece (pictured with Slonem, left) he walked away with in 2008. “I like pictures with some kind of religious implication. It related to my early works, as well—I used to paint saints all the time.” It’s been given prime real estate, too. “I have it currently in my map room of my studio, so I look at it often.”

“They said it was love at first sight,” he remembered. “It doesn’t happen all the time.”

Photos: Courtesy of Adam Lippes (Lippes portrait); Garance Dore (Goodman portrait); Courtesy of Eugenia Kim (Kim portrait); Courtesy of BCBG Max Azria (Azria portrait); Stephen Davis Phillips (Hunt Slonem); all other images courtesy of the Whitney Museum.

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