They are both former Los Angeles residents who returned to town over the weekend to be honored by the museum that they used to frequent in their younger, wilder days.
On Saturday, Martin Scorsese and David Hockney were in L.A. for the third annual Art + Film Gala held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The gala dinner, which drew a celebrity-heavy crowd of approximately 600 guests to the LACMA campus, raised a little more than $4.1 million, according to museum officials. The amount tops last year’s gala haul of about $3.5 million.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who stars in Scorsese’s forthcoming movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” co-chaired the gala with museum trustee Eva Chow. The actor spent much of the evening conversing with Scorsese at a table that included LACMA board co-chair and former Warner Bros. executive Terry Semel as well as actors Warren Beatty and Jane Fonda.
In a brief speech, Hockney reminded the crowd that he first came to L.A. nearly 50 years ago in January 1964. The artist ended up spending close to three decades living in Southern California, on and off, before moving back to his native England. In his speech, the 76-year-old Hockney joked that “I was only on location in England.”
Hockney is the subject of a new LACMA exhibition, “Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos,” which runs at the Resnick Pavilion through Jan. 20. The show features video installations Hockney created by mounting cameras on a car as he drove through the Yorkshire countryside. He also has a major exhibition running at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.
Later in the evening, Scorsese gave a speech recalling that he used to be a regular at LACMA’s film screenings at the Bing Theater. “We spent so many hours here watching films,” he said. He also mentioned that Hockney’s art was an influence for his 1976 movie “Taxi Driver."
In 2009, Scorsese penned an open letter published in The Times that criticized LACMA for its decision to end the majority of its film screenings. Since then, the museum has relaunched its film program and has mounted a number of film-themed exhibitions, including recent shows devoted to Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton.
Scorsese touched on film preservation and listed a number of cinematic moments that have special meaning for him. (How many people in the room could say they’ve seen Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “Three Times”?)
The evening concluded with an appearance by Sting, who performed a handful of his best known songs. (The singer noted that he was wearing a suit by Gucci, the gala’s official sponsor.)
LACMA Director Michael Govan said in brief interview that he hopes the annual gala will bridge the worlds of art and film, which he said still exist separately in L.A. He said a gala featuring art-world luminaries sitting side-by-side with Hollywood stars “could only happen in L.A.”
The museum has been cooperating with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on the planned construction of a new academy museum on the LACMA campus. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in an interview that the $300-million capital campaign has passed the half-way point and is closing in on the two-thirds mark.
Also in attendance Saturday was renowned French director Agnès Varda, who is the subject of a new LACMA exhibition of her art work. A former L.A. resident herself, Varda said in an interview that she enjoys coming back to Southern California. “There is beauty and the ridiculous here,” she said.
Saturday’s gala was attended by a number of prominent visual artists, including past gala honorees John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha, as well as Catherine Opie, Barbara Kruger, Urs Fischer and Doug Aitken.
Hollywood executives in attendance included Paramount’s Brad Grey, who recently joined the LACMA board of trustees. Disney’s Bob Iger was also present with his wife, Willow Bay, another LACMA trustee.
Notable movie actors who put in an appearance included Tom Hanks and his “Captain Phillips” co-star Catherine Keener, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Will Ferrell, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zoe Saldana, Sacha Baron Cohen, James Franco, Kate Hudson, Salma Hayek, Kate Beckinsdale and Jamie Bell.