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A Who’s Who of L.A.’s Art World Bids Farewell to a Champion

The actor Owen Wilson chatted with the artist Ed Ruscha. The artist Kara Walker spoke of art and activism. k.d. lang brought the house down singing “Hallelujah.”

It was Ann Philbin’s final gala as she prepared to step down after 25 years as the director of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, an institution she transformed into a contemporary art destination, helping reshape the city’s art scene. The crowd that toasted her accomplishments Saturday night was a testament to the strength of that scene: major artists, Hollywood royalty, well-heeled collectors and fellow museum directors.

Even the celebrity roast was A-list. “I know we are all gathered here to sing the praises of Annie Philbin,” the actor Will Ferrell said during dinner. “I, for one, am not. I hate the fact that I’m here — can’t stand this place.”

The dinner was held in the museum’s courtyard.Credit…Michelle Groskopf for The New York Times

The Artists

“She would put artists at the table at galas like this before we were who we were,” the artist Mark Bradford said from the stage. “She would bring you into the room; she would sit you at the table; she’d give you a little wink, like, well, it’s on you now.”

In a testament to Philbin’s strong relationships with artists, many turned out for the event on Saturday, including Barbara Kruger, Charles Gaines, Jennifer Guidi, Glenn Ligon, Rodney McMillian, Mary Weatherford and Jonas Wood.

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