The Life of the Party Throws One of His Own
If it was Monday night and you were in an apartment just like yours, only infinitely nicer and better situated, then you’d found yourself at the opening reception of Paintings by Hanuk (one name only, please). Because Hanuk is an inescapable enthusiast of the New York party scene, you were shoulder to shoulder with half of the people you’d find out on any given night: photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Vogue editor Sally Singer (cohosts, with art PR Bettina Prentice), designers Prabal Gurung, Eddie Borgo, and Camilla Staerk, TV personality Bevy Smith, W‘s Vanessa Lawrence, and everyone else Hanuk has, by way of his party photos, made a momentary celebrity. (The artist, in fact, was flitting around, grouping portraits and snapping as usual—”It wouldn’t be a party without it,” one guest quipped—despite being the main attraction himself.) Hanuk is so well-known as a party documentarian—his signature shot includes him kissing his subject on the cheek, and he’s bussed everyone from James Franco to Philip Crangi to Mickey Boardman—that it might have been news to a few of the attendees that he paints at all. But there, on a large wall at The Line, Vanessa Traina Snow’s apartment-turned-store, were thirty canvases in not-quite-matching pairs. They are brightly colored flat planes with undulating shapes and dots, a bit like Miró filtered through pop. All around, would-be buyers were calling out the color combinations of their favorites.
Before painting, before photography, Hanuk trained as a fashion designer. (He once won an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation grant for his collection.) But life wended him away from toiles and toward canvas. “I didn’t want to make clothes anymore,” he said last night. “You know, I love making clothes. But that shit costs, like, $8,000. No one’s going to buy it. So I said, You know what? Painting.”
Those paintings, when sold as pairs, did in fact cost $8,000. But Hanuk loved the idea of them splitting up, having them find new partners and new homes, so they were sold individually, too. He was visibly energized by the prospect of new meetings and new acquaintances being made between them. Which, no coincidence, could also describe his entire social M.O., not to mention his party. (He is forever introducing one partygoer to another as he smashes them together to take a picture.) “Like with a key?” he said mischievously when the idea was presented to him. And with that, and camera held high overhead, he dove into a new crowd for the next photo op.
For information, visit hanuk.com.
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