Art Dubai: Sheik Your Booty



The spirit of Andy Warhol was alive and well in “The Art of the Party”—one of the more unusual of the Global Art Talks by curators, writers, and art VIPs flown in to lend intellectual capital to the Art Dubai fair from March 17–22. The panel starred Bob Colacello, promoting his book OUT, in conversation with Simon De Pury, who discussed the essential link between the party and successful business, curator Jerome Sans, and Le Baron DJs Benjamin Moreau and Samuel Boutruche, perhaps more notable for their connoisseurship of Belvedere than for art, but ultimately the ring-leaders when the sun set. With most galleries seeing fewer and smaller sales at fairs, and corporate sponsors beginning to bail, the party itself might be all that remains. Is the requisite art fair refreshment a necessary distraction, or is it a subject worthy of an official panel discussion?

What would an art fair be without the opening parties? Especially in today’s precarious market, the scene is as much about networking, keeping on the radar, and creating desire. As Jerome Sans stated during the panel and referencing Warhol, “It happens at night, in the dark, not behind our desks,” while he and De Pury simultaneously tapped their feet to the DJs live music accompanying Sans’ slide show on the recent history of the convergence of art and party—from Gordon Matta Clark’s Food restaurant, Area Nightclub and Studio 54 to Leigh Bowery and Culture Club’s performances.

Like their predecessors, Gavin Brown’s DJ posse of Spencer Sweeney and Ben Brunnemer, who for years played the down and dirty rock parties at the art fairs in response to the exclusive fancy dinners, the Le Baron DJs now regularly travel from their Paris home to ignite art events in Miami, New York, and Dubai. After all, it’s a rare art to throw a good party: bringing together the right people at the right location, with the right lighting and the right energy. At Le Baron’s parties, people seem to pose less, they lose control and have fun. One gallerist confided: “If you don’t dance your ass off and have someone to flirt with at the fair, the days are just too long. And the big sales happen outside the booth anyway.”