Cindy Sherman, VS Angels, and Seal at the Whitney Museum's Annual Gala
It took 30 years of negotiating, but the Whitney Museum of American Art finally opened for business at its new Renzo Piano-designed downtown location in May 2015. The move was a fraught one, filled with false starts, but it made perfect sense Tuesday night when the museum’s annual gala took over the fifth floor gallery space with its dual view of the Hudson River on one side, and the lower Manhattan skyline — and the tail end of the Chelsea Highline — on the other. “Look at this space,” said artist Chuck Close, gesturing widely. “I love the new Whitney.” A mixed crowd populated the gallery — socialites in a sea of Gucci, and artists and art dealers in a combination of Comme Des Garçons and sneakers. Designer Pamella Roland, a co-chair of the gala, showed up with guests Vanessa Williams and Victoria’s Secret model Josephine Skriver (both clad in her designs, of course). Neither Williams nor Skriver had visited the museum yet, as Williams put it, “as just an average citizen,” yet even a year after its inauguration, the event was an ecstatic celebration of the new space. To cap it all off, a performance by Seal. Wasn’t he married to someone famous? one guest pondered. As he finished with his still-catchy crooner “Kiss By A Rose,” guests began to migrate downstairs to the afterparty, where Whitney artist-designed temporary tattoos awaited. It was already after 10 p.m., past Skriver’s bedtime; she had a 5 a.m. wakeup call to work out at the Dogpound with Nigel Barker, seated at Roland’s table two places down, before a shoot. The guests whisked off — as did Seal, destined for Cannes that night. The main event had ended — and raised an even $5 million in the process.