Young Paris takes over the Whitney Art Party

Published November 15, 2017

YOUNG PARIS PERFORMING AT THE PRE-PARTY DINNER. PHOTO BY ZACH HILTY / BFA.

The Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program was founded in 1968, and counts Jenny Holzer, Julian Schnabel, Kathryn Bigelow, Sarah Morris, and Félix González-Torres among its impressive body of alums. Last night, the Whitney held its annual Art Party to support their education initiatives—chief among them the ISP—and generally celebrate the much-beloved New York museum in all its zeitgeisty glory. A glittery mix of artists (Emma Sulkowicz, Joe Bradley, Trisha Baga, and Zoe Buckman were in attendance) models (Ashley Graham co-hosted) and musicians (the Misshapes DJ’d) mingled with well-heeled patrons late into the night.

“I love what I’m seeing. I love the vibe,” said genre-blending rapper Young Paris as he surveyed the gold-foil-wrapped theater before his pre-party dinner performance. “The Whitney is an amazing place. It feels like a risk to perform here, but art is all about taking risks—and I’m a walking piece of art.”

Seated near him was artist Willa Nasatir, whose photography exhibition ran at the museum this summer, and who teaches in their outreach program. “The Whitney’s legacy speaks for itself,” she said. “But what makes it special is how it seems to be always working to broaden its reach.” Of the many established and emerging artists there, they all seemed to genuinely agree on this point: the Whitney represents more than just a museum. “One of the most beautiful things they’ve given me is the opportunity to work in their education department, and inspire other artists,” said party co-host Raúl de Nieves, who made waves at the museum with his massive stained glass-esque installation for the Biennial this spring. “They opened doors to me.” For a young artist, said buzzy painter Jamian Juliano-Villani, the Whitney “means everything.”

Tucked in a quiet corner on the first floor, painter Toyin Ojih Odutola’s recently opened exhibition—her first solo museum show in New York—offered a moment of serenity, and perhaps a subtle reminder of what all the revelry was for: nurturing the next generation of art superstars.