Tonight is New York’s annual Tribeca Ball, a wild evening of art and celebration benefiting the New York Academy of Arts. Unlike your typical ballroom gala, this event invites guests into the studios of 100 emerging artists enrolled at the Academy, which serve as mini galleries for three hours as guests snap up new work. This year’s honoree is Peter Brant, collector and philanthropist, whose Brant Foundation show of artist Rob Pruitt is featured in the upcoming issue of Cultured.
Here, we speak with David Kratz, Academy President since 2009 and an MFA (2008) about what’s in store for this special event, which painters have his attention and where New York’s next art frontier will be.
You have a pretty extensive history with the Academy—first as a student, and in your role as President since 2009. Tell us what makes this institution so dear to you. There’s no other place, or education, like it. Being surrounded by a community of artists who are at the top of their game and in daily dialogue with each other is an incredibly inspiring experience. It’s also a way to get better fast.
It’s also noteworthy that you enrolled there in your late 40s, while most of your peers were in their 20s. Did you start a trend? No, the school has always had a wide range of students. There are artists of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. The mix is what makes it fascinating. And they’ve all run a gauntlet to get in. They’ve proven that they have the focus and the dedication to master the kinds of skills we teach. No matter what age they are, they are serious.
Do you have much time for your art these days? I try to paint from Friday to Monday every week at my house outside of the city. When I’m in the city I focus solely on the school.
Who are some of the contemporary painters you particularly admire? All-time heroes? Contemporary: Jonas Burgert, Walton Ford, John Alexander. All-time painter heros: Euan Euglow, Joaquim Sorolla, Alice Neal.
We’re big fans of Will Cotton (he created our December issue cover); whose idea was it to bring him into the event? Will attended the school in the 90’s and he’s currently a Senior Critic and teacher at the Academy. We’re big fans of his work. We normally do a tableau from art history but when we decided we wanted to do a contemporary one this year, Will was a natural choice. Besides, who doesn’t want to step into a fantasy Candyland at least for a moment.
Will you be posing in his tableaux? If I can get away from the front door before dinner, it will be my first stop!
More and more artists are priced out of the Manhattan stomping grounds that fueled their growth. What do you think the future holds? What’s the next frontier? I live in Brooklyn and love it. It’s a huge borough, there’s lots of room for more artists.