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Arty or party? The stars divide at MOCA's 30th birthday

November 15, 2009 |  4:40 pm

The transformative power of art has nothing on the transformative power of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie -- who turned L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art's 30th anniversary gala into a contender for social event of the decade Saturday night.

Brad-and-Angie-ENT MOCA trustees and tons of bold names stepped out for shmoozing and a much-hyped performance art piece from Francesco Vezzoli, the center of which was Lady Gaga unveiling her new single "Speechless."

We were mostly speechless over the sheer star presence, like at Grey Goose vodka's pre-ceremony cocktail hour -- where Guy Ritchie worked the room solo swilling a martini, French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld pouted and Kate Beckinsale allowed passers-by to watch as she radiated insane beauty.

Below the bash's elevated bar was the heavily curated anniversary art collection, which required, before viewing, that any booze be checked at the door. Quelle horreur!

The brave names ditching their bubbly for art's sake: Chloe Sevigny, Eva Mendes, Zoe Saldana, Diablo Cody, Neil Patrick Harris and James Franco.

Those who preferred to stay on the surface to sip?

Marisa Tomei, Shirley Manson, Pharrell Williams, Beckinsale and husband Len Wiseman, k.d. lang, Brett Ratner, Shia LaBeouf's new gal pal Carey Mulligan, and Rachel Zoe with husband Rodger Berman.

Brangelina's presence claimed most of the whisper traffic, with word buzzing around the party that the pair got an exclusive Friday viewing of Gaga and company rehearsing Vezzoli's work.

GagaENT The lady herself hit the stage in a Swarovski-adorned white evening gown by Miuccia Prada and a Frank Gehry-designed headpiece, before changing into a simple black shift to dine with David LaChapelle (and dine she did, removing her poker face to dig into some coq au vin). And in true Gaga form, showcasing art-within-art-within-art, collaborator Jonas Akerlund followed her all night with a camera crew to document the journey to MOCA.

After the gala, actor Joaquin Phoenix and designer sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte hosted a gathering for supporters at West Hollywood's new Prism Gallery, where the likes of Tom Ford, Sienna Miller and restaurateur Harry Morton were part of a packed house.

-- Matt Donnelly

Photos: Lady Gaga and artist Francesco Vezzoli perform at the MOCA New 30th Anniversary Gala, above. The piano, designed by Damien Hirst, later sold for almost a half-million bucks. Below, James Franco and actress Ahna O'Reilly arrive at the Nov. 14, 2009, gala in L.A. Credit: Ann Johansson / For The Los Angeles Times.

James Additional dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip's Division of Fabulous Parties:

A gala celebration for MOCA

Francesco Vezzoli escorts Lady Gaga to MOCA

Photo gallery: Celebs on the MOCA red carpet

Photo gallery: On the scene at MOCA's bash

Lady Gaga premieres 'Bad Romance,' in which she disrobes

Tuning in for some face time with Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga brings 'Gossip Girl' some 'Bad Romance'

Stylish links approved by the Ministry of Gossip:

A fashionable turnout to MOCA's 30th

Marc Jacobs and Rodarte at New York Fashion Week

Tom Ford tux part of Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' fashion comeback

Why's everyone hating on Angelina Jolie? 

In today's forecast: Angelina, Hugh, Barack and Bender the Futurama robot