“I’ve never seen so many celebrities in one place in my life,” said one artist at Saturday night’s 2023 LACMA Art+Film Gala.
How star-studded is the 12th annual event? A world-famous star was famous enough to ask — in a true “stars are just like us” moment — “I’d really like to go up and meet them.”
His friend urged him, “Go do it.”
“The thing is, I always play it cool,” the star grumbled. “I always play it cool.”
He could have been talking about any number of A-list talent among the few hundred guests seated inside the Gucci-sponsored gala. Leonardo DiCaprio, Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt, A$AP Rocky, Blackpinks Rose, Billie Eilish, Keanu Reeves, Andrew Garfield, Jessica Chastain and Pedro Pascal were just a few of the names who graced the evening, which raised $5 million. To support LACMA’s film-focused curatorial programming and the wider mission of the museum.
Each year, the LAKMA Art+Film Gala – co-hosted by DiCaprio and Eva Chow – celebrates a visual artist and film director and brings together the worlds of cinema and fine art. This year’s honoree is David Fincher – his latest film the killer Stars Michael Fassbender — and artist and activist Judy Baca, who gained fame for the half-mile-long mural. The Great Wall of Los AngelesOne of the longest artworks in the world.
After guests enjoyed cocktail hour outside and VIPs posed for their requisite photos in front of Chris Burton’s LA streetlights — which served as the party’s red carpet — the party moved inside for dinner by Michelin-star chef Mattia Agassi. Beverly Hills’ Gucci Osteria in collaboration with chef Joachim Splichl.
The Hollywood Reporter Jodie Turner-Smith was spotted catching up with Quinta Brunson, Odessa A’Zion and Eilish. Salma Hayek and husband Francois-Henri Pinault — who owns Gucci’s parent company Kering, as well as the new owner of CAA — sat down with Jessica Chastain, who wore a metallic Gucci gown. Paris Hilton and mom Kathy Hilton pose with Kardashian. Coleman Domingo, star Rustinwas in conversation with David Oyelowo, lead of the new Paramount+ series Attorneys: Boss Reeves. And new Gucci creative director Sabato di Sarno has appeared with everyone from Julia Garner and Elliott Page to Heidi Klum and Jodie Comer.
Conversations focused mostly on the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike and whether it was going to be resolved, addressed by Fincher in his speech from the stage. “We need to put these highly skilled people back to work. We have to do it very soon,” said the director, who was introduced by Pitt, who starred in three of Fincher’s films.
Pitt joked about Fincher’s exacting standards during filming. “Here’s something you hear on a David Fincher shoot: ‘Let’s shoot this now before we all lose our will to live.’ ‘Okay, we have the unfocused version. Now let’s try the focused one.’ ‘It’s not my own fault.’ And a personal preference: ‘I want you to be happy, but that’s Saturdays and Sundays.'” The actor praised the director, adding, “Working with him, you know what excellence looks like. His films — they’ve always challenged our sense of security. He says Like, ‘If we don’t juggle chainsaws, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.'” and praised Fincher for “the countless technological advances he brought to our industry” for helping advance the careers of many cinematographers. And for all the career advice he generously gave to “aspiring young directors”. Pitt added about the popular Netflix feature, “He even created a ‘skip intro’ button that you can use tonight.”
In his speech, Fincher recalled being a child who wanted to be an artist — “draining fistfuls of my father’s large ballpoints, losing days in little aesthetic endurance contests” — before giving up drawing. As for his eventual career choice, Fincher said, “I don’t think I ever looked at animation as art because it takes so many real artists to get through a given day.” However, he came from that subject. “I’ve met more capital-A artists in Los Angeles than anywhere else I’ve lived or worked … The desert here has absorbed the sweat and tears of generations of filmmakers, capable of an instinctive understanding of their craft, effortless style, lyrical insight and deep solutions.”
In response to Martin Scorsese’s recent comments about cinema’s decline, Fincher continued: “I’d like to take this opportunity to emphasize that cinema is not dead. It’s not even close. Man has been painting for over 30,000 years, and he has been playing with over 100 building blocks of cinema. We are rarely able to hold our head up or roll over. We don’t even crawl. Real cinema, the resonant play of ideas and behaviors against narrative structures, faked, obscured, or ignored, is not diminished by the advent of sound or color or streaming. It has evolved, and it will continue to do so, but we must challenge it, test its tensile strength, and not be shy to question its consequences and merits.
Eva Longoria introduced Baca, a visual artist who praised the muralist for creating “community-oriented public art projects” and “making his mark all over this city, from K-Town to Boyle Heights, San to Boyle Heights.” From Fernando Valley to Echo Park, the Venice Boardwalk to the 110 Freeway, Judy has worked with communities across Los Angeles to transform the city’s blank walls into beautiful monuments to its people, past and present. Longoria added, “Baka didn’t want to make art that only people in galleries could see. In fact, we were outside and she said, ‘Can you believe I’m here in LAKMA? The whole existence of my art is to combat this.’ That’s why he created many murals on the street for people to enjoy, because you don’t have to be in an institution to be an artist. She understands the power of art, how art gives voice to the disenfranchised, and the ability of public spaces to hear their stories. He wanted to create art in the service of social change and social justice.
Baka co-created with over 400 youth The Great Wall of Los Angeles, which tells the city’s history through images and stories from traditionally underrepresented communities. “Hundreds, probably thousands, of people are on stage with me tonight,” he accepted his honor, saying, “I’ve spent half my life listening to and painting missing people in the scorching sun with 400 young people on the L.A. River.” The river, hardened in concrete, tattooed the scar where the river once ran, telling the story of the disappearance of people. Paca is currently planning to extend the Los Angeles Great Wall by a mile, Andrew W. Thanks to a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, and as part of an exhibit this coming June at LACMA — Painting on the River of Angels — new sections of the artwork are being created, which will eventually be moved to the L.A. River to join the mural.
To kick off the evening, LACMA CEO and Director Michael Cowan welcomed guests and told of the progress of the new Peter Zumthor-designed museum building under construction, “We’re happy to report tonight – we’re 70 percent done.”
The evening was a major LA moment for Gucci’s di Sarno, who joined the house last January and showed his first collection in Milan in September. At the LAKMA Art+Film Gala, designer Gucci launched his first evening wear collection for the luxury label called Ancora Note. A host of models wore the event, including Mariacarla Boscono, Vittoria Ceretti, Kirsty Hume, Abe Lee, Jiahui Zhang, Fadia Cope, Nyajuk, Violet Hume, Heather Strongarm, Agel Akol, Camilla Orner and Sam Case.
The evening featured past art honorees Catherine Opie, Helen Bashjian and Ed Rusha, museum directors Ann Philbin of the Hammer, Catherine Fleming of the Getty, Jacqueline Stewart of the Academy Museum and Sandra Jackson-Dumont of the Lucas Museum. of Narrative Art; and a host of artists including Glenn Ligon, Greg Ito, Avol Erisku, Mary Weatherford, Jonas Wood, Analia Saban, Charles Gaines, Chase Hall and Lauren Halsey.
After dinner, guests headed back outside, where Jennifer Lopez, joined by Ben Affleck, introduced the night’s artist, Lenny Kravitz, who played an ear-splitting set.
The gala was sponsored by Audi, which brought the stars to the event in electric vehicles and drove many to Chateau Marmont, the site of the unofficial afterparty.