It was drizzling heavily by the time Dia:Beacon's spring benefit honoring iconic L.A.-based Light and Space artist Robert Irwin began last Sunday afternoon; by the time dessert was served, rain was pouring down in sheets. But the crowd -which included artists Rita Ackerman, Carl Andre, Ken Okiishi, and David Salle; collectors Peter Brant, Arne Glimcher, Beth DeWoody, and Firooz Zahedi; and gallerists Stefania Bortolami and Gavin Brown- remained upbeat, maintaining a thunderous chatter throughout a family-style lunch served in one of Dia:Beacon's many large, minimally designed open spaces. Towards the end of the meal, guests were seen bypassing their usual smoke break in favor of trading hits from an vape pen, perhaps a result of the change in scenery. (When in the Hudson Valley...?)
The event included a preview for Irwin's famous installation Excursus: Homage to the Square³, which opened on Monday seventeen years after its debut at Dia Art Foundation's former exhibition space in Manhattan, and will be on view for two years.
Irwin's Excursus, a trippy maze of eighteen identical chambers lit by fluorescent lights (wrapped in varying patterns of colored gels, a departure from Prologue: x18³), was inspired by Josef Albers' Homage to the Square painting series. At Dia:Beacon, however, the installation -displayed in a heavily shaded room, for maximum effect- felt almost like a scaled-down replication of the museum itself, which Irwin himself had a hand in designing.
Throughout the afternoon, guests broke off in quiet groups of three of four to wander through Excursus while their children, wearing neon rave necklaces, sipped leftover cappuccinos and raced each other past works by Richard Serra, Blinky Palermo, Michael Heizer, Dan Flavin, and John Chamberlain. Bags filled with party favors- including a spearmint-scented Aesop sunscreen (SPF 50, ironically, considering the weather)- dangled from the wrists of adults as they traded hugs and business cards.
During her introductory toast, Dia Art Foundation Director Jessica Morgan commented on the relationship between Irwin's piece and the institution itself, saying, "Time and space is an essential component of Dia, which takes its name from the Greek word [meaning "through"]. Dia is now approaching its 40th anniversary and hopefully there will be much more of both."