On Tuesday night, the Aperture Foundation threw its annual benefit party. This year it was a tribute to Robert Frank, titled The Open Road, and 800 people crowded into Terminal 5 at Chelsea Piers. Frank himself was in attendance for his tribute, and could be seen around the dining room surrounded by handlers and admirers. To start the program, the president of the Hermès Foundation, Pierre-Alexis Dumas, gave a moving speech on the importance of photography in his life, announcing a new partnership of the two foundations, to begin in 2015.
During the main course, Alec Soth, Billy Bragg, Joe Purdy, and Isaac Gale did a civil rights-infused folk musical accompaniment to a slide show of images, which pertained to the road trip-ish theme of the evening. In the back, there was a brightly lit photobooth provided by Instagram, where guests posed, drinks in hand, with props, in front of a highway backdrop.
As plates were cleared the live auction started, the highlight being the print donated by Frank himself, an image of two windowsills crowded with faces, taken from the street, titled Hoboken, New Jersey, which went for $95,000. Throughout the evening, a silent auction by Artsy went on by the entrance. Carter Cleveland, Artsy’s CEO, spoke of his excitement about being able to present big-name artists on the same platform as emerging artists. The evening had a 100 percent sell-through rate, raising $271,000 for the foundation.
The Kills came on stage during dessert (a kind of deconstructed s’more), and did a loud rock and roll set that would have been at home at Glastonbury, to the emptying floor of bidders. A Terminal 5 waiter put his wine bottle down and his hand over his heart. “I love them,” he said. “I just wanna rip my vest off and dance.”