Brant is a polo player as well as a publisher, newsprint magnate, and the latest megacollector to build his own museum. It’s basically the Versailles of polo fields; the surrounding area includes pastures (in one of which Jeff Koons’s flowering Puppy sits all alone, facing Mecca), a grandstand, and a large, flagstone clubhouse that architect Richard Gluckman has converted into an exhibition space.
“I live in Wilton, which isn’t far from here,” said the actor Christopher Walken, “and I have to say that, even for these parts, this is some big spread.”
The reception was nominally for artists in Brant’s collection, and Richard Serra, David Salle, Francesco Clemente, Donald Baechler, and Koons were there. But collectors far outnumbered artists, as did the dealers who cater to all of them (Larry Gagosian, Daniella Luxembourg, Gavin Brown, Sadie Coles, etc.). Two other Balloon Dog owners, Dakis Joannou and Eli Broad, came to pay their respects, as did collectors Irving Blum from Los Angeles, Pauline Karpidas from London, and Eugenio López from Mexico City. “This is fantastic,” said López. “Isn’t this marvelous?” Karpidas exclaimed. “It’s just great,” said Blum.
It wasn’t clear whether they were talking about the building, the setting, the crowd, or the art on display. Brant said he had designed the installation with Urs Fischer and a little help from dealers Tony Shafrazi and Jeffrey Deitch. “I don’t remember that piece,” said Metro Pictures’ Helen Winer to her business partner Janelle Reiring. They were standing over a small Mike Kelley blanket-and-stuffed-animal work on the floor. “When did we show that?”
“I never knew Dennis Hopper played a Nazi,” said Walken, coming out on the terrace where the crowd had drifted for cocktails. He had just taken his first gander at Piotr Uklanski’s suite of 164 head shots of actors who have all played Nazis in movies. “Jack Palance is there, too,” Walken added. “But I never want to see that movie.”
Shafrazi punched Hopper’s cell-phone number into his BlackBerry. “Julian Schnabel always does this, too,” Walken said. “Name comes up, a minute later Julian has him on the phone.” Shafrazi handed Walken the BlackBerry. “You played a Nazi, Dennis?” Walken said. “I never knew.”
A moment later, Brant joined his mother and nine children and other family members in front of the Balloon Dog for a group portrait by Todd Eberle. Brant invited Koons to be in the picture, and the ever-accommodating artist knelt down, front and center. Watching from the deck, Mera Rubell told Francesco Vezzoli, “I like an artist’s early work. What’s your thing with the late?”
“I’m interested in what an artist can show us at the end,” Vezzoli said. “And I like the decadence.”
Brant Loyalty (ArtForum)