An orange extension cord scrolled the words “See you soon” in cursive loops across the otherwise bare gallery wall on the fourth floor of the Marcel Breuer–designed building that has long been home to the Whitney Museum. On a neighboring wall a similar cord advised to “Stay tuned.” Indeed, the museum’s 2014 gala was a night equal parts anticipation and nostalgia—the last event to be held in the Breuer Building before the museum moves downtown to its new Renzo Piano–designed home in the Meatpacking District. To celebrate the historic evening, the museum honored the 98 living artists who have been the subjects of a solo exhibition in the building. In homage, David Stark and his team hung paper lanterns, one for each artist, with the artist’s name scrawled across in various fonts and sizes—a meme that was repeated as wallpaper with all the Whitney’s artists on all four walls surrounding the diners and later at the Studio Party on the Flour Shop’s iced sugar cookies (I took a bite out of Ellsworth Kelly). As dinner began, museum director Adam Weinberg welcomed guests and noted proudly, “It’s so rare to go to an event like this and look around and see things that are not just things but things that tell you a story about the museum.” After calling attention to the 98 honorees and asking those present to stand, Weinberg assured everyone, “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning, this is a continuation,” and explained that the new building’s opening date is easy to remember since it is a palindrome: 5.1.15. He ended his speech by telling the crowd, “There’s no art in this building tonight, so you can really go wild!” Of course, that is exactly what happened post-dinner at the after-hours Studio Party. Before revelers decamped to the fourth floor, they were treated to a performance by the surprise musical guest Elvis Costello, who sang a trio of hits. One of the tables for Louis Vuitton (the brand was the gala’s sponsor) was situated directly in front of the stage, and Vuitton-clad guests including Alexia Niedzielski and Riley Keough, granddaughter of another musical Elvis, were rapt listeners. Costello concluded his set with a wave and said, “See you down at the new digs!”
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