Last night, underneath Isa Genzken’s 36-foot-tall Rose II sculpture and surrounded by favorites like Picasso’s She-Goat and Auguste Rodin’s Monument to Balzac, MoMA threw its annual “Party in the Garden” gala. This year the garden fête honored artist Kara Walker, whose first large-scale public work, A Subtlety, was shown at the Domino Sugar Factory, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last year and whose piece, Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart, is currently on view at MoMA as a part of the museum’s “Scenes for a New Heritage” exhibition. The monumental black and white cut-paper silhouette critiques the traditional and widely accepted narratives of the antebellum south, beauty, and sexuality, and how they have stayed with us as the “Gone” in the title alludes to the seminal film, Gone with the Wind.
With DJ sets by Chromeo and The Misshapes, the night also honored the prolific sculptor Richard Serra, who has over 70 works in MoMA's permanent collection and who had a retrospective at the museum in 2007. The night was also marked by a protest led by about 100 museum staff who held signs that read “Modern Art, Ancient Wages” and “MoMA, Don’t Cut Our Healthcare,” in an effort to draw attention to the museum’s request for their workers to take on extra healthcare cost. One particularly clever sign read, “Last Year: Matisse Cut-Outs. This Year: MoMA Health Care Cuts?”
But the protest outside did not sour the full-blown party taking place inside. As the dinner concluded, The Weeknd took the stage to cap the night off with a 30 minute performance. We spotted artists Ryder Ripps and Jeanette Hayes singing along in the rain to hits "Earned It," and "Or Naw." "New York is the best city, I'm so happy to be back playing at MoMA," the Canadian singer said from the garden stage overlooking Joan Miro’s Moonbird sculpture. “Tonight is the high of the high, the Weeknd is fantastic,“ said Ripps of the R&B singer. “I’m a very good dancer, I can’t hold it in,” he added when we saw him dancing on some couches in a white linen suit as the Grammy nominated artist played "Often."