It’s Fashion Week, the opening of the fall art season, and there are hundreds of parties. So how does an art opening compete -- especially one for a reclusive middle-aged artist who all but disappeared in the 1990s? It’s possible if the curators are banking heir Andy Valmorbida and Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld, son of former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, who cashed in on their vast celebrity connections for the opening reception of “Richard Hambleton: A Retrospective” on Friday night, Sept. 9, 2011.
Valmorbida and Restoin-Roitfeld, along with Giorgio Armani, enlisted the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate Olsen, Owen Wilson, Shala Monroque and an army of models to celebrate the reemergence of the street artist who was long ago considered more famous than contemporaries Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Perhaps even more amazingly, the duo convinced Hambleton himself to show up. (The artist had succumbed to a heroin addiction and holed up inside his Lower East Side apartment for decades.)
Hanging on two floors at the uptown Phillips de Pury & Company headquarters building at Park Avenue and East 57th Street were 50 Hambleton works dating back to 1982. They ranged from the artist’s iconic lurking, jumping and squatting “Shadowman” paintings to canvases of expressionistic Marlboro Men on horseback to his recent series of metallic landscapes called, simply, “Beautiful Paintings.” Also on view are 20 shots of Hambleton street works by photographer Hank O’Neal.
The exhibition, which is only open Sept. 10-13, 2011, debuted in New York in 2009 before traveling to Milan, Moscow, Cannes and London, and finally returning to the city for its grand exit.
Later that night, VIPs headed downtown for the after-party at Indochine, where an ice-cream truck was strategically parked outside handing out copies of Dasha Zhukova’s new Garage magazine. Inside, the 1980s Fleetwood Mac on the speakers, the gaudy palm-printed wallpaper and the pre-Bloomberg attitude toward indoor smoking made for a kind of revival of Hambleton’s heyday.
Socialites perched atop banquette backs and, at a side table, a bleached-blonde Lindsay Lohan appeared to be behaving herself. Nonetheless, when a photographer came over to snap a photo she blocked her face with an ice bucket.
A couple hours later, many of the guests had decamped for a Jade Jagger party at the Dream Downtown Hotel. Not Anthony Haden-Guest, however, who was leaning solo against a pillar at the edge of the room. He was heading to a bar in the Lower East Side to party with an even younger crowd. At around 2:30 am, we ran into him there and waved goodnight. “What do you mean?” he said. “You’re not coming to Santos Party House?”