Michael Govan said he wanted to host an event to rival the annual Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute ball in New York. And judging from the turnout at Saturday's first Art + Film gala, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art director is well on his way.
The star wattage on the red carpet on Wilshire Boulevard shone almost as bright as Chris Burden's "Urban Light" installation, which guests walked through to get to the party. Leonardo DiCaprio and Eva Chow co-hosted the event, which raised $3 million, and honored film maker Clint Eastwood and artist John Baldessari, whose work often incorporates film or film stills.
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Govan found a sponsorship partner in Gucci. The Italian fashion house dressed many guests, including Evan Rachel Wood, who looked ravishing in a black and gold Art Deco style dress hot off the spring 2012 runway. Gelila Puck wore a gown she made with Baldessari, along with a festive purple wig.
The crowd was a mix of film, fashion and art, representing Govan's broader vision for the museum's collections. Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz and shoe designer Christian Louboutin were there, as were Julian Schnabel, Ron Howard, Jon Hamm, Uma Thurman, Zoe Saldana, Jane Fonda, Kate Hudson, Amy Adams, Amy Poehler and Emily Blunt, who was smooching hubbie John Krasinski.
"We had been talking to them for a year and a half about the this," said Robert Triefus, Gucci's director of marketing and communications. "This museum is so important to L.A., and Michael has so much energy," he said, adding that Gucci intends for the commitment to LACMA to be long term.
"It's really a historic evening for us," said a beaming Govan, sipping Champagne and greeting his guests. Standing nearby was his wife Katherine Ross, wearing Balenciaga. (She is the U.S. brand consultant for Balenciaga, which is part of PPR's Gucci Group).
After drinks in the courtyard, guests moved into a tent for dinner. "If you think about the worlds of art and film, there are more artists here now than anywhere else in the history of civilization," Govan said of Los Angeles when he took the stage. "We intend to recognize motion pictures as one of the greatest art forms not only of our time but of all time." (Last month, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced plans to open a movie museum in as soon as three years, in an abandoned Miracle Mile department store near LACMA, the Petersen Automotive Museum and the George C. Page Museum.)
When accepting his award, Baldessari shared an epiphany he had at the Metropolitan Museum of Art early in his career: he was looking at a Van Gogh painting and imagining it as a strip of film, and what would come before it and after. "It changed the course of my work," he said. "If painting can be a frame of film, why can't film be a frame of a painting? That's what I've been working on."
DiCaprio introduced Eastwood, "Dirty Harry never ran into Mr. Clint Eastwood," he said, marveling over the actor-director's 50 plus years in the film business. "The moment you hear you get to work with Clint Eastwood, you feel you need to rise to the occasion." (Eastwood directed DiCaprio in the J. Edgar Hoover biopic "J. Edgar," which opens Wednesday.)
When it was Eastwood's turn, he returned the compliment. "I have worked with some pretty good actors, but none better than this young man."
"Paris has Cinematheque and New York has MOMA [The Museum of Modern Art]," he said. "L.A. deserves to have the best cinema museum in the world."
To close out the night, Stevie Wonder took the stage with his band. Between "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" and "Superstition," he had us dancing in the aisles.
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Top photos left to right: Leonardo DiCaprio, Evan Rachel Wood and Clint Eastwood attend LACMA's Art And Film Gala Honoring Clint Eastwood And John Baldessari at LACMA on November 5, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Bottom photos left to right: Uma Thurman, John Baldessari and Kate Bosworth at the event. Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.