This week, the very one that saw Donald Trump call for a total elimination of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities, the art world carried on as usual—that is to say, it opened buzzy exhibitions, and dutifully organized splashy parties to celebrate them. The Whitney Museum literally plowed ahead with its festivities when the snowstorm Stella forced the institution to shift its long-awaited opening of the 2017 Whitney Biennial from Tuesday to Wednesday night, meaning a few civilians got to sneak into the VIP opening with the likes of Zoë Kravitz and Julianne Moore. Thanks in part to its 30-something curators, the occasion somehow seemed to attract an even younger showing than that at the Frick Collection's Young Fellows Ball the next night, which was once again hosted by the designer Carolina Herrera, this time with a collection of J. M. W. Turner paintings. See how the two parties measured up, here.


The Whitney: The Whitney Museum, which has now truly settled into its new Renzo Piano-designed home along the Hudson River with its first-ever downtown biennial.

The Frick: The Frick Collection all the way up on East 70th Street, home to plenty of marble, ionic columns, and a courtyard complete with a fountain.

Host committee:

The Whitney: Curators Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks and Whitney Museum director Adam Weinberg.

The Frick: Carolina Herrera, along with chairmen like W's Rickie De Sole and Nicky Hilton Rothschild, who swam with the art crowd this week after turning up at the Art Production Fund's (much wetter) gala.

Tiffany & Co. present the Whitney Biennial VIP Opening - Inside
Installation by Ajay Kurian at the VIP Opening of the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Guest list:

The Whitney: VIPs like Julianne Moore, Zoë Kravitz, Tavi Gevinson, Zosia Mamet, and St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark); artists like Raúl de Nieves, Ajay Kurian, Jordan Wolfson, and Chloe Wise; and all the patrons, press, and other art-world names who made it after Tuesday's cancellation.

The Frick: Six-hundred-plus high-society patrons of the arts, including the designer Wes Gordon.

Dress code:

The Whitney: Plainclothes mixed with the full-on looks from celebs, like St. Vincent's head-to-toe Opening Ceremony ruffles.

The Frick: Gowns upon gowns, either by or mimicking Carolina Herrera, and all doing their best to follow the dress code of "luminescent black tie."

2017 Whitney Biennial Presented By Tiffany & Co.
Petra Collins and Tavi Gevinson at the VIP Opening of the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images


The Whitney: Bowls of candied nuts for visitors to snack on while waiting at the packed open bars, which stretched from the downstairs lobby all the way up to the eighth floor, where visitors could also take in the Basquiats and Harings in the museum's concurrent '80s painting show—after depositing their drinks, of course.

The Frick: Champagne, champagne, champagne, which also had to be kept a certain distance from the art, making for opulent hallways full of endless abandoned, half-empty flutes.


Eye candy:

The Whitney: Forget '80s painting: the real star, after three years, 200-plus studio visits, one heartbreaking election, and an unquantifiable amount of hype regarding the show's two young curators, was the 2017 Whitney Biennial. That meant everything from ultraviolent VR by Jordan Wolfson to floor-to-ceiling paintings by Dana Schutz to powerful scenes of black domestic life by both Deana Lawson and Henry Taylor.

The Frick: The always-stunning permanent collection, plus a new special exhibition of 19th-century paintings by J. M. W. Turner that spotlight his affinity for ports.

Tiffany & Co. presents the Whitney Biennial VIP Opening - Arrivals
Julianne Moore at the VIP Opening of the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

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