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Quentin Tarantino, Barbara Kruger honored at starry LACMA gala

Quentin Tarantino, Barbara Kruger honored at starry LACMA gala
At LACMA's Art + Film Gala on Saturday are, from left, LACMA director Michael Govan, Gucci creative director Frida Giannini, Art + Film Gala co-chair Eva Chow, Barbara Kruger and Quentin Tarantino. (Charley Gallay / Getty Images)

Boy George, Quentin Tarantino, Barbara Kruger, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Scott, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West rubbing elbows in the same room?

No, it wasn’t a fever dream. It was the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art + Film Gala, now in its fourth year of bringing together the worlds of art, film, music, fashion and philanthropy, to raise funds for the museum’s curatorial activities.

On Saturday night, LACMA raised a lot of funds, nearly $4 million, in its annual event, which honored two of the great pulp figures of our time who create, as LACMA director Michael Govan put it, "culturally introspective" works.

Artist Kruger turned her experience as a graphic designer at magazines into conceptual art, using culturally critiquing slogans such as, “I shop therefore I am” and “Your body is a battleground.” And filmmaker Tarantino turned his love of movie history into a body of work characterized by satirical, and at times brutal, sendups of neo-noir, spaghetti westerns, martial arts and blaxploitation genres, in such films as “Jackie Brown,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill” and “Django Unchained.”

The event was sponsored by Gucci, with creative director Frida Giannini as gala co-chair, and co-hosted by DiCaprio and Eva Chow.

Chow said, "I am crazy about both of their work and feel they have so many things in common. They are visually very strong, but they both use words and language mixed into their art. So it just made sense."

Guests, including Kate Hudson, Amy Adams, James Franco, Florence Welch, Kirsten Dunst and Jennifer Lopez -- all dressed in Gucci -- walked the red carpet in front of Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” assemblage of lampposts on Wilshire Boulevard. Cocktails were served near the grand entrance, and dinner under a tent bathed in dramatic red light.

Actress Salma Hayek Pinault, who is married to Francois-Henri Pinault, chief of Gucci parent company Kering, was dressed in an incredible crystal-embroidered white Gucci gown. She reflected on the sexy snake dancer role in Tarantino’s 1996 film “From Dusk Till Dawn” that launched her career in Hollywood. “When I read the script, I said, ‘What is this thing about pouring whiskey on my leg?’ And someone told me Quentin has a foot fetish. Then, when we were doing the scene, and I was dancing, George Clooney said, ‘Wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense. Salma comes down, passes all of us, and only dances for Quentin.’ And Quentin said, ‘Yes. … I wrote it.’ ”

A man who knows what he wants.

After dinner, the speeches began. Kruger said of Tarantino, "When watching his films, I have often found myself thinking on many occasions, 'Wow, I wish I had done that.' And I think that's the highest compliment one artist can pay another."

Tarantino returned the compliment, saying he was honored to be celebrating the symbiosis of his and Kruger's work, particularly the way that work speaks for itself and invites individual interpretation. "I love to talk. And I love to talk about movies. I don't really love to talk about my movies. … I want to put the work out there. I don't want to try to decipher it for you. If I have to do that, maybe I didn't do a good enough job," he said.

Many of those not dressed in Gucci chose to represent L.A.’s fashion scene. Govan’s wife, fashion consultant Katherine Ross, wore an emerald green silk halter gown by L.A. designer Juan Carlos Obando and drop earrings by L.A.’s Irene Neuwirth. Vintage clothing guru Cameron Silver chose a silvery sequin tuxedo jacket by L.A.’s Anthony Franco.

And China Chow wore a brown Hershey wrapper gown by Jeremy Scott, the L.A.-based designer who is now the creative director of Moschino. In a neat Halloween trick, Chow was pulling Hershey minis from her décolletage and giving them to guests, until she realized the treats had turned to soup from her body heat.

"I was looking to get on the worst-dressed list," she joked when asked why she chose the delicious gown. "I don't know, with the iconic logo and pop art, it seemed fitting. Plus it's the day after Halloween. … But I really wore it for Boy George," she winked.

To cap off the night, Boy George and Culture Club reunited onstage for a short set that included old favorites "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" and "Karma Chameleon," and, in a nod to Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," the soul classic, "Son of a Preacher Man."

And there was Chow right up front, warming up the crowd and getting us all dancing.

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