Diane Keaton Confused by Hammer Museum Honor: "What Have I Done to Warrant It?"

Diane Keaton - P 2015
Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The contemporary art museum's star-studded Gala in the Garden toasted the actress along with artist Paul McCarthy.

Diane Keaton: an impossibly cool Oscar-winning actress who is passionate about architecture, interior design and red wine with ice cubes. Paul McCarthy: an envelope-pushing artist who sometimes mixes vulgarity with nostalgia and who iced critics last year with a Parisian sculpture resembling a butt plug.

Sure, the two may be strange bedfellows, but Saturday night they shared a stage as the top honorees at the Hammer Museum’s Gala in the Garden, the contemporary art museum’s 13th annual fundraising event sponsored by fashion house Bottega Veneta. The celebration is always a hot gathering of a demographic that's distinctly L.A. ­­— artists, actors, celebrities, industry power players, philanthropists and fashionistas (many wearing Bottega, naturally).

It was also just hot. Temperatures in the area topped 90 degrees on Oct. 10, so it was unusual for conversations during the two-hour cocktail soiree (which preceded the gala dinner prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef Suzanne Goin) to not include mention of the current heat wave. However, more interesting was the talk concerning the night’s honorees, and the positive spin on an event that accomplishes the rare feat of feeling both glamorous and intimate, and creative and important (last year's gala raised $2.5 million for the Hammer). 

"It’s a great collision isn’t it?" asked a Bottega Veneta-clad Sam Taylor Johnson, one of the night’s co-chairs along with husband Aaron Taylor Johnson, Julia Roberts and Danny Moder, and Bottega’s Tomas Maier. "I can’t think of anything that straddles the worlds of Diane Keaton and Paul McCarthy. Two completely different disciplines and styles of artists, but at the same time both very forefront artistic-thinking people."

Diane Keaton (L) and Hammer Museum Director Annie Philbin by Donato Sardella/Getty Images.

Keaton lobbied questions with humility at THR while walking (handler-free) through the museum's upper balcony, right after she wrapped up a conversation with recent Oscar winner Patricia Arquette and beau Eric White. "It’s hot, but here I am being honored in a turtleneck. I don’t exactly understand why I’m being honored, but I’m really happy about it. You know what I mean? It’s a little unusual, don’t you say? What have I done to warrant it?" she inquired with a smile. "I keep thinking, 'Why did Ann do it?' "

She’s speaking, of course, about Hammer Museum Director Ann Philbin, who received just as much, if not more, attention than any of the night’s A-list guests. And that list is long: Keaton, Roberts and Arquette were joined by Jimmy Iovine and fiancee Liberty Ross, Elizabeth Banks, Salma Hayek, Will Ferrell and wife Viveca Paulin, Sarah Paulson, Amanda Peet, Matt Bomer and husband Simon Halls, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Ashley Olsen, Armie Hammer and wife Elizabeth Chambers, Marisa Tomei, Selma Blair, Kiernan Shipka, Sela Ward, Mia Maestro, Liz Goldwyn, Catherine Opie, Mark Bradford, John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha, Avery Singer, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Michael Maltzan, Waldo Fernandez, Glenn Kaino and wife Corey Lynn Calter, and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

(L-R) Will Ferrell, Julia Roberts and Mark Bradford by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.

CAA was also well represented with agents Kevin Huvane, Maha Dakhil and Thao NguyenEmma Stone did the honors of presenting to Keaton, while iconic artist Matthew Barney feted McCarthy. In addition to the aforementioned artists, big names from L.A.’s museum scene milling about included Michael GovanPhilippe Vergne and Paul Schimmel.Jane Lynch hosted the affair, while Aloe Blacc also handled the mic, performing a string of his hit songs following dinner. But even before Stone or Barney got a chance to applaud the night’s honorees, guests were eager to get the ball rolling.  

"For all of us, (Diane Keaton) is so wonderful and so funny and enigmatic," Roberts, in Bottega, explained to THR. "It’s a thrill to be here on a night when she’s being honored." (Roberts also explained why she and Moder returned to the Hammer for Gala in the Garden: "It’s a beautiful event and social enough and you get to meet incredible artists and see incredible art in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s so stunning here. They raise money to support such a great concept of what a museum should be by bringing art to people.")

Meanwhile, Arquette confirmed that Keaton’s humble attitude is not an act. "She’s every actress’ hero. She’s free, alive, amazing and like a life force," she explained. "It’s not at all about the ego. Her work is totally pure and raw and not in any way self-conscious. She’s an artist in the way she puts together houses and visual spaces and her own self. The way she has moved through the world is like art."

Many of the approximately 600 guests at Gala in the Garden moved through the gallery spaces to check out the art on view and to enjoy an air-conditioned respite from the outdoors. Martin was seen showing off the Lawren Harris exhibit he curated for the Hammer, "The Idea of North," while artist Frances Stark took time to chat with Ferrell about her installation "Uh-Oh: Frances Stark 1991-2015." (A full list of the Hammer's exhibitions can be found here.)

"I feel like I’m on ecstasy," Stark laughed to THR, describing the giddy emotion of seeing so many notable faces perusing her work. "Will Ferrell is here, and then I saw the guy who was the head of my graduate program in the '90s, and then I saw one of my professors from the '90s."

Speaking of sightings, Lynch detailed how she’s quite happy admiring people like Keaton from afar. "I don’t know her personally, and I don’t need to meet her either. I would love to, of course, but if it doesn’t happen tonight, that’s OK," she laughed. "You don’t always need to meet people but instead can bask in the glory of their artistry."

Despite being a stranger, Lynch, who next toplines Angel from Hell on CBS, knows a lot about Keaton. "She is a huge fan of art. I have always loved her homes in Architectural Digest. She had a beautiful Spanish home, and she got into craftsman right before that. I’m a big architecture buff so I know how much she loves it," she said. "And she’s also just an amazing actress."

Aloe Blacc (L) and Jane Lynch by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images. 

Of Keaton's many film roles, Bomer and Halls singled out Annie Hall, for which the actress won an Oscar in 1978, as their favorite. "I would also have to add Marvin’s Room," Halls noted. "We are huge Diane Keaton fans."

Though the couple looked fresh and dapper, they laughed that they were recovering from Bomer’s birthday celebration the night before at downtown hotspot Redbird. (The American Horror Story: Hotel star turned 38 on Oct. 11.) Back to the gala: "It’s nice to support a museum like this that offers free exhibits to the public and celebrates contemporary artists and the people who are influencing art right now," explained Bomer, also in a bold-printed Bottega suit. Summarized Halls: "It’s indicative of how L.A. has become such a cultural center — you can feel the shift from New York to L.A. with all these interesting young artists and museums from the Hammer to LACMA, MOCA and the Broad."

At 36, Blacc can still be categorized as a younger artist, and he gushed to THR about how grateful he was to be included on the night’s roster. "They told me that Sia performed last year and Katy Perry the year before that, so I thought somebody made a mistake when they invited me," laughed Blacc, accompanied by his pregnant wife, Maya Jupiter. "I love the idea of performing in a museum, and I’m a sucker for performing at galas because I know that I’m using my voice to help raise money for a cause."

Bomer’s AHS: Hotel pal Paulson described the important role Keaton has played in her life since the two starred together in The Other Sister in 1999. It’s a sweet story, and it summarizes why Keaton is such a beloved member of the acting community. "I was apoplectic when the movie ended because I became very close to her and attached to her and she very kindly said, 'We don’t have to say goodbye, we’re going to be friends.' I thought it would never be," Paulson remembered, joined at the event by best friend Peet, both in Bottega dresses. "We spoke once a week and would have dinner twice a month, and 20 years later she’s still a very, very, very powerful female presence in my life. She has always encouraged me to shun the bullshit of this business. She’s an incredible role model to have. My friendship with her is a real true friendship. She helps form choices that I make in my life — not even work choices, but life choices. She's an incredible lady."