Leonardo DiCaprio, Tracee Ellis Ross and Gayle King Hit New York Art Parties


Outside the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday night, the wind was howling as broken umbrellas blew across South Street like urban tumbleweeds.

But, inside the former ferry building that houses Cipriani South Street, Tracee Ellis Ross looked right at home standing on a stage welcoming guests to the New Museum’s Spring Gala.

The “black-ish” actress twirled to reveal a sky-blue bodysuit — which looked a little like a swimsuit — under a black-and-blue sleeveless dress.

“I wanted to wear something worthy of the artistic celebration at hand,” she later explained of the outfit, a hand-painted creation by Francesco Risso for Marni.

As the annual spring ritual of courting New York’s patrons kicks into gear, Ms. Ross, the evening’s host, was one of more than 500 artists, philanthropists and other notables from the cultural world who stood and sipped at the event, which honored the artists Mickalene Thomas and George Condo. The night raised $2.1 million for the New Museum, which will be temporarily closed until 2025 for an expansion that will nearly double its exhibition space.

Guests included Leonardo DiCaprio, who slipped in quietly during cocktail hour with his art adviser, Ralph DeLuca, to congratulate Mr. Condo, a friend of his; the photographer Cindy Sherman; and the artist Jeff Koons.

They mingled with museum leaders, among them Max Hollein, the director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum; and Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Ms. Thomas, who is known for her large-scale acrylic paintings of Black women in states of leisure, said she was recently inspired by her fellow artists, among them Derrick Adams, Mark Bradford, Lauren Halsey, Simone Leigh and Kehinde Wiley.

All of them are working to “create platforms and experiences that empower communities to make a positive impact on society,” she said.

After cocktails, attendees moved into the Great Hall for a live auction and dinner — burrata with grape tomatoes, and salmon with leek sauce — followed by a musical performance from the singer-songwriter Deon Jones.

After a couple of songs, some attendees began streaming for the exit, while others approached the purple-and-green stage and danced rather than face the rain.

On Thursday evening, as the rain passed and the sun emerged, art-world fixtures again gathered, this time at the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown for a Black Arts Council benefit.

The group, founded in 1993 by Agnes Gund, David Rockefeller Jr. and Akosua Barthwell Evans, helps to acquire pieces by Black artists for the museum. It also supports exhibitions of work by Black artists and facilitates opportunities for Black artists and professionals at MoMA.

“What’s impressed me about the group is the commitment to open up art so that everyone would feel comfortable coming to the museum,” said Dr. Barthwell Evans, adding, “the commitment to not having the museum be a barrier, but welcoming.”

This year’s benefit, which drew about 250 people and raised around $500,000, honored the artist Glenn Ligon and the scholar and lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill, who is currently a scholar in residence at MoMA.

In the lobby of the museum, attendees chatted over cocktails. Glenn Lowry, the director of MoMA, greeted the artist Linda Goode Bryant. Ms. Golden stood with Mr. Ligon, near Gayle King, the broadcast journalist, and Scott Rothkopf, the director of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Around 8 p.m., the crowd moved upstairs for a dinner featuring burrata with fennel and halibut with spring vegetables.

“Evenings like this are about celebration, about recognizing how everyone in this room contributes to such an amazing cultural ecosystem here in New York,” Mr. Lowry said during a speech onstage. “Black Arts Council is, of course, integral to the work we do.”

Dinner was followed with a performance by Cautious Clay & the Community — known for dreamy R&B songs — and a dessert buffet with mini doughnuts, banana pudding and confetti cake.



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