A year of planning. Three days of partying. Perfection? Of course. (They’ve been at it for 14 years.) But this time, the city’s sexiest art auction saved the best for last.
by ROB BRINKLEY and ALAN PEPPARD
It somehow didn’t matter that the night’s fashion honoree wasn’t, at least in human form, there at all. A silvery digital bust of him rotated on video screens. Partygoers pulled on white-ponytail wigs and fingerless black-leather gloves and aped him for a photo-booth camera. And when guests floated back up the Rachofsky House driveway to their cars that night, they took home a piece of him: a glossy black watch, whose face bore the name of the Very Important Person who wasn’t at his own party: Karl Lagerfeld. This year’s Two x Two for AIDS and Art — the multi-event art auction that has raised more than $40 million for amfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art in 14 years — kicked off with said Karlfest, a rather stylish excuse for a peek at the art headed for the block two nights later. This annual first look is known as, indeed, First Look, and it often has a fashion-world spin compared with Saturday’s art-centric extravaganza. (Christian Siriano, for example, once came to show off a spring collection.) This year, Lagerfeld was The Chosen One, there in spirit only for a crowd as tightly edited as his last collection: Dallas art-world characters stirred with out-of-town artists, gallerists and collectors. Exhibit A? Encountered in less than four minutes’ time was an awestruck New Yorker Richard Phillips — this year’s honored artist, in his first foray to the Rachofsky House — and the Dallas bundle of cosmic energy known as Steve Wrubel, bounding about the house in a T-shirt airbrushed with the words “Karl x Karl,” his own homage to Two x Two, commissioned that very day at the State Fair of Texas. It cost him $14.99. —R.B.
Beneath Dallas’ gold-Rolex veneer lurks a secret cabal of the aesthetically attuned. Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Deedie Rose and Marguerite Hoffman are the chief majors. Rex Cumming and Mary Noel Lamont are members, too. October’s Two x Two for AIDS and Art gala was their annual conclave. If The Crystal Charity Ball is for the old guard and the Cattle Baron’s Ball is for the, well, for the cattle guard, then Two x Two is for the vanguard. Collectors who attend the annual black-tie dinner and art auction at the Rachofsky House do not know who LeRoy Neiman or G. Harvey were. They would never buy an S-Class Mercedes if a Joseph Cornell box could be had with the same money. This was the 14th year that the Rachofskys have opened their blinding-white, one-bedroom Richard Meier box for the benefit, whose proceeds are split between the Dallas Museum of Art and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. The two beneficiaries provide an alchemy that attracts the coolest of the cool, from within town and out: Sigourney, Shirley and Sharon have come; Kenneth Cole and Stanley Tucci are veritable fixtures. And there’s Jamie Niven, too, the son of actor David Niven and the chairman of Sotheby’s North & South America, who served as auctioneer again, and the singer-actor Alan Cumming, a frequent invitee here, who entertained and tossed off a stream of Scottish-lilted F-bombs that sounded more like endearments than Tourette’s. Tan, tall and dressed to enthrall, New Yorker Amy Phelan, the only woman who has been both a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and a trustee of the Guggenheim Foundation, was the gala chairman. When the money was counted, the whole take rang in at more than $4.5 million, just shy of the 2011 gala’s record-setting night of $4.9 million. Of course, that year, lightning was captured when the evening’s honored artist, Mark Grotjhan, had a painting sell for $1 million, a number for a charity auction that is “totally unheard of,” according to Howard Rachofksy. The 2012 artist-honoree Richard Phillips is no slacker. His donated painting of Lindsay Lohan, Lindsay V, whose estimated value was a cool $285,000, sold to a phone bidder for $15,000 more than that. —A.P.
The goodbye, in my opinion, should’ve been the hello. We writers choose our words carefully — or should — so please take a moment to fully savor the forthcoming noun: triumph. Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and fellow collectors Amy and Vernon Faulconer have created one, in a flat-fronted warehouse in North Dallas, next door to an auto-repair facility where you can also buy batteries and brakes. For inside the gray-painted monolith exists, veritably, the edgiest art space this side of the Dallas Contemporary. What once was the Rachofskys’ and Faulconers’ private warehouse has been reinvented by Droese Raney Architects as the slightly more public Warehouse — and Two x Two’s traditional Sunday brunch, a morning-after sendoff for the out-of-towners, served as its debut. We’d been tipped off about it months earlier, but nothing could prepare us for the sight: thousands and thousands of square feet of gray scored-concrete floors, divided into 16 (16!) galleries, each painted snow white, all under lofty ceilings, also snow-white. Indeed, it is art heaven. Within these pristinely finished walls is a MoMA-worthy outlay of works, made of plaster, steel, marble, velvet, twine, acrylic, glue, cardboard, Styrofoam, beeswax, human hair, hay and quail eggs, by Kassay, McCollum, Burri, Bourgeois, Irwin, Fontana, Manzoni, Moffett, Merz, Dumas and Doig. Over there, a Donald Judd. Over here, a Gerhard Richter. It was, and is, thrilling — even the bleary-eyed troupers who survived the hot and humid night before were jolted awake by the scope and quality of it all. The energy that morning was palpable, as if we’d all been dropped into a strange new, Sigmar Polke–painted world. The obvious question: When will it open to the public? It may not. “It may not look like it, but it is a warehouse,” man of the hour Howard Rachofsky told the gathered throng, in his untucked lavender shirt and lavender wingtip shoes. Much of the vision for the Warehouse is his, and he says the programming there will be “open-ended.” (Don’t expect official hours and a gift shop.) “We’re going to have fun collecting interesting things — but we’re going to use the space responsibly.” —R.B.