Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in Bakst Costume with Fleurs du Mal, 1911-12, Oil on canvas, (104 1/4” x 63 7/8”), Whitney Studio Mural Panel Westbury. Artist: Howard Gardiner Cushing (1869-1916)

By The Newport Art Museum

On Friday, July 19, 2019 the Newport Art Museum will host its annual summer fundraiser, the Artists’ Ball, a tradition that dates back to 1927. One of the most highly anticipated and lively cultural events of Newport’s summer season, the Art Museum’s festive Artists’ Ball attracts cultural and civic leaders, artists, collectors, supporters, and art-world notables. The proceeds from this special event support the Art Museum’s expanded exhibitions, collection, programs, community outreach, and preservation of its historically significant buildings.

Artists’ Ball 2019 co-chairs, Anne Baker, Charlie Burns, Monique Coleman and The Hon. Esmond Harmsworth, have organized an unforgettable evening, featuring a towering flower wall, captivating tent décor, a Gilded Age-inspired menu and one-of-a-kind artworks to be auctioned by one of Christie’s top auctioneers. Suggested attire for the evening is: Festive – in the spirit of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

Guests will also have the opportunity to view two extraordinary exhibitions in the Cushing Building: rarely seen sculptures by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and two panels from the Whitney Studio Mural of 1911-1912 by Howard Gardiner Cushing, along with Cushing’s iconic portrait of Ida Rubinstein and other paintings. The striking murals by Mr. Cushing were created for and installed in Mrs. Whitney’s studio in Old Westbury, New York. This selective viewing of two panels marks the premiere public unveiling of these renowned works.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney is best known as an art patron and founder of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Yet she also had a significant career as a sculptor, exhibiting throughout the United States and Europe and receiving major commissions and awards. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: Sculpture is the first exhibition of Whitney’s art since her death in 1942 and her third exhibition at the Newport Art Museum. The exhibition was organized by the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. Mrs. Whitney played a significant role in the founding of the Newport Art Museum and was an active member of its first Artists’ Council. Additionally, she set in motion and assisted in fundraising for the Cushing Memorial Gallery, which was dedicated to her close friend and fellow Newport artist, Howard Gardiner Cushing. The building’s foundational cornerstone was laid a century ago in 1919 and the classically-styled gallery was completed in 1920 by the architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich.

The inscription on the building reads: “this building was erected by the friends of Howard Gardiner Cushing who we remember with affection the joy of his companionship and his power to make them see as he saw the beautiful things of life.” Taking inspiration from these heartfelt words, the title of this special exhibition is: Howard Gardiner Cushing: The Beautiful Things of Life, which will be on view from June 15 through October 6, 2019.

Seth Watsky, an Associate Vice President from Christie’s, will auction two artworks produced by six notable artists in the Exquisite Corpse style of collective assembly. Artists David Barnes, Nick Benson and Rupert Nesbitt have created the first figure and artists Sue McNally, Jessica Rosner and Susannah Strong have created the second. These improbable one-of-a-kind images harken back to the Surrealists’ parlour game and the Paris avant-garde of the early 20th century, which included artists such as André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, and others. What a suitable reference for the Artists’ Ball.

Additional auction items include an evening in New York City followed by a special viewing of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s studio in Old Westbury. More auction items to be announced.

Immediately following the live auction, the auctioneer will lead a paddle raise to garner additional support for the Museum’s exhibition program, collection, community outreach and historic preservation.

Celebrity DJ Mad Marj will be in charge of the dance floor from 8:30 pm on. She has been spinning at some of the hottest parties from Manhattan’s East Village to London and Paris. Her clients include Tory Burch, Versace, W Magazine, Bulgari and Longchamp, to mention only a few, and she has performed with New Order, Skrillex and Estelle.

The Newport Art Museum enjoys an exceptional history and as the institution moves further forward into the 21st century, its founding members and the visionary artists who left their marks will be forever appreciated, remembered and serve as inspiration for the Museum’s future endeavors.