If lush green paddocks, a pig roast, an abundance of celebrities, artists, art dealers, pretty young hipsters, collectors and, yes, champagne, could determine quality in art, then the New York-based painter Josh Smith, may have just hit the big time.
At the May 7th opening of his solo show, The American Dream, at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, in Greenwich, Connecticut, cultural heavy-hitters showed up in droves to pay homage to their powerful host's most recent endorsement. Like a present-day Gatsby, newsprint magnate and mega-collector Peter Brant opened his converted barn to Smith's buttery large-scale paintings. Loosely rendered fish, skeletons, and a giant, exceedingly goofy, dinosaur, were all apparently dashed off in a single frenzied month.
The fabulously dressed guests, the hushed, high-octane vibe (everything--from the valet parking to the catering--ran like a well-oiled machine), the spectacular sky, accented with the occasional fluffy white cloud, gave the party a magical feel, as if we were witnessing the American Dream incarnate.
Yet it was hard not to feel a tad skeptical about the pleased-as-punch smiles of Christopher Walken and Naomi Campbell, not to mention art stars Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel, and Maurizio Cattalan. And what about those dealers? They all looked like best friends! It was as if the gorgeous day, and Brant's star-studded event, somehow made Smith's paintings wonderful by extension.