Hammer Museum to Honor Writer Tony Kushner, Artist Robert Gober

Joan Marcus
Tony Kushner

Viola Davis will be on hand Oct. 5 to pay tribute to the Oscar-nominated "Lincoln" scribe at the Los Angeles museum's 11th annual Gala in the Garden.

Robert Gober and Tony Kushner will be honored Oct. 5 at the Hammer Museum’s 11th annual Gala in the Garden, which raises money for the museum’s exhibitions and free public programs.  

Gober — who has collaborated with the Hammer Museum and will curate a section of an exhibition in the fall — is a sculptor whose work deals with themes of sexuality, relationships, nature, politics and religion. Memories from his childhood and various day-to-day objects (i.e. sinks, doors) often fill his work, and some of his most famous pieces are large-scale installations, some of which make use of running water and theatrical lighting.

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Kushner penned the Pullitzer-prize winning play Angels in America, which was later turned into an Emmy-winning HBO miniseries, and Caroline or Change. He also wrote the screenplays for Steven Spielberg’s Munich, and most recently, Lincoln, for which Kushner received an Oscar nomination.

Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum, believes the two to be multidimensional visionaries.

"Tony and Bob are not just extraordinary artists, they've both also made enormous contributions to the social and political landscape," she says. "They're activists and highly thoughtful people whose work really resonates on many different levels."

Artist and past honoree Charles Ray will pay tribute to Gober, and actor Viola Davis will toast Kushner at the event. Actors Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks will serve as co-chairs with Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta.

Bottega Veneta, a luxury fashion brand that Philbin calls “very creative minded,” has partnered with the Hammer Museum to put on the event.

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Last year, the Gala raised more than $2 million. This year, Philbin hopes to achieve the same goal.

"It's really our only big fundraiser of the year. We completely depend on it to underwrite our exhibitions and programs," Philbin says.

She notes: “It’s about a quarter of all the money we have to raise every year.”

Last year's honorees were artists Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman, and the night was capped with a performance by Katy Perry.

Board members at the Hammer Museum from the entertainment industry include honorary director Armie Hammer, the great-grandson of museum founder Armand Hammer; president Michael Rubel of CAA; producers Marcy Carsey and David Hoberman; UTA's Peter Benedek and Jeremy Zimmer; and WME's George Freeman.