New York Stragglers–Mostly Models–Party at Pace for Annie Leibovitz Show

With most of the art world in Miami, Pace Gallery on W. 22nd Street brought in the fashion crowd for the opening of Annie Leibovitz’s “Pilgrimage,” on view at the gallery December 1-3 before traveling to the Smithsonian. The party was hosted by Vogue and Anna Wintour and super models in evening gowns were sipping white wine among Ms. Leibovitz’s photographs. David Byrne, looking (as usual) a little stressed, scooted out of the building just as we were walking in. The designer Thakoon was sneaking by models and Vogue employees wearing his dresses. Karen Elson, by the way, is paler in person than we imagined.

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Chuck Close stood out among all the high fashion: he was wearing a jumpsuit plastered with bright green patterns and parachute-type pants that hugged his ankles. He said he’s been collecting African fabrics with his girlfriend.

“This is all I wear now,” he said to Gallerist. “No more black.” He inspected the outfit and added: “This is conservative.”

A waiter walked up and offered us some avocado concoction on a cracker.

“I want that,” Mr. Close said, “But you have to feed it to me.”

We scooped up the canapé and placed it in Mr. Close’s mouth like it was a communion wafer. It wasn’t Miami Beach, but it was all right.

By this time, a line of people had formed around Ms. Leibovitz, all looking for autographs. She greeted them with smiles, but still seemed a little reluctant about the attention.

“I was alone in the gallery earlier today,” she said. “And I really saw the work as a body of work. And my searching in it. God knows what. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m searching for.”

Portraiture is, of course, Ms. Leibovitz’s claim to fame. That’s what the show focuses on, though in a decidedly unexpected way. There are no people in these photographs, only objects and rooms: there is a row of books from Sigmund Freud’s library; Pete Seeger’s cluttered workroom in his house in upstate New York; Virginia Woolf’s writing studio in East Sussex. She lets possessions and things build the picture of her subjects, rather than the subjects themselves.

Near the entrance, Peter Macgill, president of the Pace/MacGill gallery–Pace’s branch for photography–who helped bring the show to New York, was admiring a dramatic photograph of the top hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated.

“That’s maybe as good a portrait of Lincoln as we’ve ever seen,” Mr. MacGill said.

The party cleared out around 8 p.m. A number of people in the room had planes to catch.

[All photos by Alexander Porter/]

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