JASON WU TALKS ART, AUCTIONS AND AIDS AWARENESS
In 1991 a group of activists, doctors, and people with HIV formed the first community-driven coalition with the goal of studying new treatments for the disease: Twenty-five years later, the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) has helped develop 20 different medicines approved by the FDA and continues to make advances in the field. Tonight, ACRIA joins forces with the fashion, art, and design worlds for its 23rd annual Unframed auction to benefit the Artists Ending AIDS Fund. The event at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, is chaired by fashion icon Jason Wu, who has long been involved with ACRIA' s mission to provide support and education to communities suffering from or at risk for the disease. We spoke with the designer about his involvement with the group, his interest in art, and his thoughts on the auction.
Architectural Digest: How did you get involved with ACRIA?
Jason Wu: My relationship with ACRIA formed very organically. I am very passionate about their mission of education and furthering understanding of the newest developments in the fight against AIDS. I am very pleased that we have ACRIA as a platform for New York's creative communities to be more engaged with this issue.
AD: What's the relationship between the art, fashion, and design worlds and HIV research?
JW: The Unframed auction has been an event that, for the past 23 years, has brought together some of the most influential artists and designers for a cause that we truly believe in. Many of us, including myself, believe that activism through art is important, and Unframed is an outlet that allows us to come together to maintain progress in HIV research.
AD: Where do you go to buy art?
JW: In New York the Gagosian Gallery always has really interesting and provocative exhibitions.
AD: What do you look for when buying art?
JW: I usually gravitate toward pieces that trigger an immediate inspiration. I particularly like works by Cy Twombly.
AD: What's one of the most unusual places you've ever bought great art?
JW: I was vacationing in Uruguay, staying at Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio. In my suite was this great artwork by local artist Marcelo Legrand. The Estancia staff actually arranged a visit for me to meet Marcelo! I had to have one of his ink murals, which is now in my New York studio-it's quite the souvenir.
AD: What are some of your favorite works that you own?
JW: A 2016 Hunt Slonem oil-on-wood painting. I had the opportunity to meet Hunt, and I was enthralled by his wild array of paintings, sculptures, and his remarkable studio.
AD: Did any of the works in the auction surprise you? What's one work you' re really excited about?
JW: This year's works are all so incredibly strong. I was definitely moved by Costa Vece' s collages; there's something subtle yet striking about them. As far as work I'm excited about, I think Glenn Ligon is an exceptional artist who not only creates inspiring works but also has proven to be an extremely important cultural voice. I'm thrilled that Unframed will be exhibiting his fantastic work this year.
AD: What is the importance of charity auctions?
JW: Charity auctions, especially Unframed, act as a way to benefit these organizations that better our society while also offering an occasion to come together and celebrate some of the best contemporary artists. This year's participants have been so generous in donating their works to continue progress in HIV research. I'm delighted to be part of this event, and I am looking forward to seeing ACRIA maintain this progress. As artists and designers, the best thing we can do is create work that can in turn give back to the community.