Take Home A Nude Honors Artist John Alexander, Raises $1.1 Million
Oct 13, 2017, 09:56am
By: Bettina Zilkha - Style & Design
The New York Academy of Arts (NYAA) held its 26th annual fall party and auction, Take Home A Nude, on Wednesday night at Sotheby's. The evening, honoring artist John Alexander, featured a silent auction followed by a live auction of works by Peter Beard, Ross Bleckner, Christo, Will Cotton, Patrick Demarchelier, Eric Fischl, Eric Freeman, Damian Loeb, Ryan McGinness, and Kiki Smith, and portrait commissions by Margaret Bowland and Nan Goldin, among others. The evening raised $1.1 million for student scholarships and programs at NYAA.
After the auction, guests made their way to dinner, where the centerpiece was a tableau vivant of "nude" models being sketched by NYAA students. There was no lack of bold-face names to appreciate the skills at hand, including Caroline Kennedy and Ed Schlossberg, Princess Beatrice, Lorne Michaels, Naomi Watts, Chris Noth, Brooke Shields and Liev Schreiber.
"Tonight is all because of one crazy Texan, our honoree John Alexander," said NYAA President David Kratz.
Alexander, who has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, has a winning personality and a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humor. He was visibly moved when he accepted his honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Kratz.
"So many of my friends are here tonight, and they are asking me about the cause: 'What the fuck do they do?'," said Alexander to uproarious laughter. "NYAA educates young people. It's what they do, and they do it very well. In some people's opinion, mine in particular, greatness in art today is unfortunately measured by the amount of money something is worth. That's a very dangerous way to look at anything cultural. I believe that great art has more than just commercial value: it has a spirit, a significance in some kind of soulful, meaningful way. For example, just because something is large, flashy, and makes a lot of noise doesn't necessarily mean that it's of any consequence other than it's a phenomenon. I believe that great art is something that touches you internally."
Many of Alexander's supporters and friends also collect his work, including Richard Mishaan, one of the evening's Chairs.
"John Alexander is a national treasure," said Mishaan. "He's a real master painter. My wife Marcia studied under him once, and she said, 'he has the skills and the technique of a Pre-Raphaelite.' He's in every major museum in America. He's been somewhat under the radar, yet his craft is very important. John is also the most loving man alive, and he's not a person who likes to call attention to himself, so tonight is really special."