The Whitney American Art Award gala attracted collectors, artists, and admirers alike to a lofty far west Chelsea venue last night. “I’m not artistic. Well, you could say my art is on the tennis court,” John McEnroe told Style.com. The tennis ace chatted with Peter M. Brant, who was one of the honorees of the evening, before he did a quick browse of the work up for sale. One memorable digital print of a dollhouse landscape by James Casebere was tagged at $25,000. “I do love and collect art,” McEnroe said more seriously. “There’s this one guy that I think is pretty good. You might have heard of him: Vincent van Gogh?”
The casual atmosphere carried through dinner and a performance by McEnroe’s wife, Patty Smyth. The strong turnout, which included Diane von Furstenberg, Julian Schnabel, and Anh Duong, brought in more than $1.5 million. With teenage sons in tow, Stephanie Seymour Brant discussed modern art—one of her favorite periods. “That’s such a tough question,” she said when asked about her favorite artists. Although when pushed, she conceded, “I do love Urs Fischer‘s work.” The artist was seated just nearby.
Brant, her husband, was perhaps more decisive. He has been an avid supporter of Jeff Koons’ oversize sculptures for some time. When he took the stage to accept his award alongside the Henry Luce Foundation and Ogilvy & Mather, he said, “I’m deeply honored. This fills me with great emotion I can’t express. Thanks to my mother and father, who taught me that this world had more to offer than war and sports.”