The Wee Hours: Art and Ponies through Rosé-Colored Glasses in Greenwich

A champagne afternoon in Brant land.

dom p brunch The Wee Hours: Art and Ponies through Rosé Colored Glasses in Greenwich

Richard Geoffroy, Olivier Zahm, Dree Hemingway

THE SUNDAY TRAIN TO GREENWICH left near the brunch hour and wound fast from Grand Central up out of the city, through the tree-dotted commuter towns, decrepit cities and expanses of green space. Just across the Connecticut border we stopped and at the taxi stand we spotted an editor from Interview magazine in red, bulb-shaped sunglasses. Her date wore a chrome sport coat with mannered rips below the lapels. We were going to the same address. “The Brant Foundation,” the editor said, and the cab took us there, sliding by the outsize faux-Place Vendôme homes that inhabit North Street.

The Observer looked up to see the stone building built by Peter Brant, the billionaire art dealer whose mansion lay across the street. It was stuck there, a rock fortress of art, surrounded by finely manicured grass that first rose up and then flattened into an immaculate polo field.

The man in the ripped chrome sport coat was talking with the editor about Josh Smith, an artist who writes his name in childish script on canvasses the size of elephants, and whose show had recently opened at the Brant Foundation.

“Peter lives there,” the editor said, pointing toward Mr. Brant’s mansion. It was completely obscured by foliage. “Can you see the puppy?” Puppy is a two-story, canine-shape topiary artwork by Jeff Koons, wrapped in kaleidoscopic vegetation.

On the wooden patio flanking the entrance, white-jacketed waiters set the table with placards, and once The Observer procured a flute of rosé, by Dom Pérignon, Allison Brant—whose father had opted to stay on in Basel after the art fair—led us through the Smith exhibition. The paintings were very much in his style—his name in various shades and scripts, the curling serifs of the letters repeated, one after another, lining the walls down to the barnlike skyroom.

“He did it with cranes, in a few weeks, here at the foundation,” Ms. Brant reported. She was talking about the work depicting a T. rex, which rose dramatically toward the ceiling. It was a fire-breathing dinosaur of a kid’s imagination: enormous and crude, surrounded by volcanoes. Beside it was another painting of the same size. “Josh Smith,” the painting said. Olivier Zahm knelt to take a picture. The exhibition is called “The American Dream.”

The Observer looked at our empty glass of rosé and went upstairs for another. We had several, and then it was time for lunch, presided over by Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave, the man who oversees every bottle of vintage. “We believe in the power of Champagne, the family method,” Mr. Geoffroy said. He was flown in for the day from France. “So raise your glasses, and toast,” he said. We did. The bubbly was the Dom Pérignon Oenotheque 1996.

There was to be a polo match but it was canceled, and a scrimmage would have to do. There were just lakes on the pitch, we heard.

As dessert cheeses arrived, a steed galloped toward the deck, the rider swinging his polo mallet up and around his head. The fashion designer Johan Linderberg walked over to watch his date, Dree Hemingway, run her hands through the mane.

“I never ride,” she said. The model sat with The Observer on the steps and had a cigarette. The green field spun like a carousel in the lenses of Ms. Hemingway’s black, crescent sunglasses. She had recently moved from the Lower East Side to the West Village. “I just got the cutest red bike,” Ms. Hemingway said. We were now standing together and the wind peeled from the green. “Do you bike? I’ll help you find a new one.” And then with a peck to our cheek, she hopped into a car with Mr. Linderberg back to the city.

Everyone was leaving, it appeared, but there would be a quick detour to see the Puppy. Someone said they had the code for the gate, but when we arrived it would not open. And so The Observer craned our neck, and over the wrought-iron spokes we could just see it, the live flowers piled all over the body, the floral beast in the Brant front yard.