The art of parties and beyond

By Franklin Melendez...  

Ancient Chinese aristocrats exalted canary yellow, Napoleon preferred royal purple and fashion king Valentino, with his UV-assisted glow, can't live without his own color. No, not that one. Red! On an extensive PR tour to promote his documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor, the couturier hit the Taschen store in Beverly Hills to autograph copies of Valentino: A Grand Epic, a silk-encased tome chronicling his venerated reign and favored shade of crimson. Like a Warhol portrait come to life, he provided a suitably colorful kick-off to the latest edition of LA Art Weekend.

Alas, the weekend was a little tamer than previous years—less champers, no private cars. But bad times or not, art is serious business and should apparently be observed responsibly, not in a bubbly haze. Highlights included Elliot Hundley’s encyclopedic installation at Regen Projects, consisting of fragile assemblages based on Hekabe, a character in an elaborate Greek tragedy (think classic Melrose Place, but with more draping and gladiators). I cursed myself for not paying more attention in high school, but loved the outré wardrobe.

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Valentino, LA Art WeekendMike Mills, Miranda July, LA Art Weekend
ValentinoMike Mills & Miranda July

This was followed by a jolly Q&A at the Hammer with the Rodarte and Mike Mills, the husband-to-be of performance artist and filmmaker Miranda July, for whom the Mulleavy sisters are whipping up a top secret wedding dress. I was tempted to inquire more during the question portion, but a particularly breathy grad student's aggressive musings about post-something aesthetics made me think better of it. The reception at the Standard, Downtown—aka the Cheers of L.A.—soothed my unease (mostly with lots of liquor), but neither Lady July nor the Mulleavy girls would divulge further details. I found refuge with Chloé's marketing director Oliver LeGrande; we talked about the new L.A. Chloé store, swapping words like “wedges” and "boutique" for “installation” and “assemblage.”

Saturday was a party for something called Postpolis!, which sounds like a Greek dessert, but was apparently a blog party. Even as a blogger, I fail to see the draw as a social event. Meanwhile, in Culver City, it was the opening of Kehinde Wiley’s latest exhibition, World Stage: Brazil, large-scale heroic portraits of gorgeous Brazilian men in the style of patrician portraiture. The press release went on about “objectification” and “gazing,” but I just wanted to commission a painting of Lorenzo Martone. He's Brazilian, no?

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Kehinde Wiley, LA Art WeekendKehinde Wiley, LA Art Weekend
Kehinde Wiley

Sunday we were lured to Venice for a book trade, which turned into a brainy exercise in literariness. I hid my battered copies of Us Weekly and the Body Issue of Vogue, and considered popping into a Barnes & Noble for something more enlightened. Later, I bumped into Jeffrey Deitch at LACMA. I was about to inquire whether or not he flew coach (recession and all), but I was distracted by a large John Baldessari painting of a man with his face covered by an orange color block. It looked familiar, although I couldn't quite place who it reminded me of. The riddle plagued me for the remainder of the weekend, dispelled only by a citrusy mimosa and a golden sunset.



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