Last night, BOMB Magazine celebrated its 31st anniversary at Capitale in New York by honoring curator Klaus Biesenbach, playwright Marsha Norman, and sculptor Richard Serra. Patti Smith, Theresa Rebeck, and Hal Foster toasted the trio, along with BOMB's editor, Betsy Sussler. Each honoree was giving a pink BOMB created by Tom Otterness, an artist known for his public art works. It was an evening of back-patting, heavy pours, and Yves Klein blue suits.
Klaus Kertess, the chairman of BOMB, introduced Mr. Biesenbach at the star-studded affair by saying, "Klaus has clout -- so watch out." Patti Smith was the official toaster to MoMA's Curator At Large, however. As she took a moment to look out at the audience, she joked, "If you are applauding my glasses the frames are from Germany." In her pronounced way of speaking that could only come from Jersey, she referred to "Claws" as an innovator and risk-taker, and gushed, "William Blake was considered out of step in his time. He did not have a champion such as Klaus." The two met through Susan Sontag 15 years ago, and have been fast friends ever since. Biesenbach took to the stage dressed in a silvery-grey suit; his shock of white hair was flipped back and presumably combed with an incredible amount of product so that it was firmly secured to the top of his head. He hugged Patti, then left the pink bomb on the podium, forgetting to claim his prize at the end.
Theresa Rebeck, a writer for the TV hit, "Smash," was next up; she introduced the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman. After a few introductory comments, Norman got to the point, saying, "My time is a very hard time for women, and I kid you not about that -- women are the reason there are still people on the planet," which elicited a warm round of applause from the audience. It's perhaps not surprising that Norman is working on a new play addressing the issues facing womankind through a United Nations project. Hal Foster then introduced the staid sculptor Richard Serra by joking, "He's not famous for his light side." When Serra took to the stage, he drily replied, "I don't see myself the way other people see me and I would rather not." The art icon was the first to acknowledge BOMB's contribution to the world, saying, "it covers things that other magazines don't cover." Which is absolutely true, if we're being honest here.
L to R: Michael Stipe, Cindy Sherman, Mike Starn. Photograph courtesy of Patrick McMullan.
The end of the night was capped by a silent auction, which was attended by Michael Stipe, Kim Cattrall, James Franco, and other celebrities who your humble correspondent couldn't place (but we're sure Patrick McMullan's photographer did). Most of the auction was calm, until the last few minutes when the auctioneer yelped that there were only moments remaining. A gentleman crashed into me on his way to make a last bid, while others avoided the fray. Most works had only one or two names attached to them, but the Deana Lawson color print, "Girls With Oiled Faces" (2004) was the clear exception -- various claims were hastily scrawled on the slip, and then it was over. The crowd dispersed, the celebrities were nowhere to be seen, and the BOMB employees sighed, packed up the remaining prints, and then went home. In the end, the crowd understood the "party" part of the gala, but we're not sure if they understood the benefit.
Check out works from the silent auction below:
SANFORD BIGGERS Shake Still (Hair), 2009
LISA YUSKAVAGE Babie, 2004
CLIFFORD OWENS Photographs with an Audience (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), 2009
LUCY RAVEN The Letter A, 2012
SHIRIN NESHAT From 'Soliloquy' series, 1999
DEANA LAWSON Girls with Oiled Faces, 2004
JOAN JONAS Rainbow House I, 2009
SHARON HARPER Moon Studies and star Scratches, Rincon, P.R., 2006
JANE HAMMOND Paulette, 2011
ELENA BERRIOLO Silence, 2011