The Observer walked up the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s marble staircase last Thursday night. Tea lights set along the stairs cast a strange light on the familiar scene. It was the Met’s annual Young Member’s Party, where bluebloods and yuppie wannabes gather to celebrate the museum with an open bar.
In addition to booze, the Alexander McQueen exhibit was open for ticketed guests. Processing through an empty hallway filled with Durer etchings, we made our way to the “Savage Beauty” Alexander McQueen exhibit.
Walking into the gallery, a quote from Mr. McQueen was inscribed in gold lettering on the jet black wall: “I’m a romantic schizophrenic.” Those choice words sum up the entire exhibit. Fanciful, deeply romantic and totally macabre, the collection was arranged around a central haunted-house motif. Eerie tracks of whistling wind and howling dogs played in the background while some specific installations had their own spectral soundtracks including a Mozart adagio and the theme song to Shindler’s List.
The guests, half art/fashion aficionados, half vagrant semi-socialites, filed through the exhibit commenting on the pieces. The latter loudly balked at the exotic costumes, while the former tried to appreciate the deviant designs in quiet.
Downstairs hundreds of festive twenty-somethings filled the Carol and Milton Petrie Sculpture Court. A fascinating mélange of genteel ivy-league bankers and spray-tanned social-climbers mingled and drank heavily amidst the priceless marble sculptures. Lily Pulitzer dresses, oxford shirts, and brooks brother’s blazers all featured prominently.
The Observer walked up to a group of three young women and asked why they liked events at the Met. “It’s like a diverse group of people, like everybody’s kind of the same age range, and they’re not trashy,” replied a buxom, bronzed Long Islander. Her blonde Turkish friend gave a similar response. “In order to hear about this I guess you have to like have certain friends, like go to the same places and have a refined like lifestyle.”
The cheery mood was not marred by the giant sculpture of two men being taken to their execution. The morose scene was largely ignored by revelers. One older man did take notice of the particular montage, however. “Looks like he blew up his hedge fund,” he reflected, gesturing to one of the figures with a rope around his neck. “Shorted gold at the wrong time.”
We left the party, walking through the long gallery of “Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.” A giant limestone statue of a Mayan deity stood stoically watching crowds of tipsy youngsters depart.