Jane Fonda and the Art World Take On Big Oil

jane fonda

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Jane Fonda.

Gagosian’s Bevery Hills outpost played host on Tuesday night to a benefit, co-hosted by Jane Fonda and mega-gallerist Larry Gagosian, with a special performance by John Legend, to support a campaign to protect frontline communities in California from the harmful effects of oil drilling.

Organized in collaboration with Christie’s, the event featured an exhibition of works donated by a starry list of contemporary artists—Charles Gaines, Alex Israel, Marilyn Minter, Christina Quarles, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie, and Hank Willis Thomas among them—to fund the Campaign for a Healthy and Safe California, which Fonda is helping to spearhead.

larry gagosian

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Larry Gagosian.

chrissy teigen, john legend

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, who co-hosted the event.

john legend performs

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Legend performing.

The event raised more than $10 million for the campaign, which is focused is on getting voters to reject an attempt by oil companies to repeal SB1137, a bill California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law in 2022. The bill provides setbacks that prohibit the drilling of new wells within 3,200 feet of homes, parks, schools, and playgrounds, and requires oil companies to ensure that existing wells near and within areas where people live—which have been linked to an array of environmental and health hazards—are made safer. A referendum on SB1137 is on the state ballot this November.

Some of the pieces donated by the artists will be auctioned as part of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale in May, while others will be presented for sale in a separate show this summer at Gagosian. Five of the donated works—by Opie, Ruscha, Francesca Gabbiani, Mark Grotjahn, and Marilyn Minter—have already been sold.

ed ruschas ups downs 2023

Brica Wilcox Courtesy the artist and Gagosian © Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha’s Ups Downs, 2023.

jennifer meyer kelly sawyer patricof leslie mann derek blasberg

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Jennifer Meyer, Kelly Sawyer Patricof, Leslie Mann, and Derek Blasberg.

catherine opie

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Artist Catherine Opie.

chelsea handler, maria shriver

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Chelsea Handler and Maria Shriver.

leslie mann, judd apatow

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Mann and Judd Apatow.

Last month, Fonda participated in a press conference along with Governor Newsom, a Democrat, and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, in a bipartisan show of support for the restrictions on drilling in California, one of the nation’s largest oil-producing states.

Among the speakers at that press conference and at Tuesday’s benefit was Nalleli Cobo, a 23-year-old activist who successfully lobbied to get the oil wells near her family’s home in South Central Los Angeles shut down. Cobo, who was diagnosed with reproductive cancer at the age of 19, offered a stark assessment of the harms that the pollution produced by these wells can have on air quality and nearby communities. “Clean air is a basic and fundamental human right,” she said. “The oil industry has no place in our backyards.”

nalleli cobo, jane fonda, wendy schmidt

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Fonda, center, with Nalleli Cobo, left, and event co-host Wendy Schmidt, right.

katherine ross

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Katherine Ross.

michael govan larry gagosian

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

LACMA CEO and director Michael Govan and Larry Gagosian.

karen bass

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.

“I am thrilled to be able to use my love of art to propel the fight against climate injustice,” said Fonda, a longtime environmental activist, who was famously arrested at five times as part of the weekly Fire Drill Friday demonstrations she launched in Washington, D.C. with Greenpeace in 2019.

“Jane has been a great friend for over 40 years,” Gagosian said. “It’s a must-win in November, and I am incredibly grateful to the generous artists who are helping us ensure a safe and healthy California for generations to come.”

Legend’s mini-set included renditions of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” followed by a DJ set from Marley’s granddaughter Zuri Marley.

chrissy teigen, jane fonda

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Teigen and Fonda.

nathaniel mary quinn, eddie ruscha, francesca gabbiani

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Artists Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Eddie Ruscha, and Francesca Gabbiani.

alex israel

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Artist Alex Israel and Alex Marshall of Christie’s.

christina quarles, pilar corrias

Linnea Stephan/BFA.com

Artist Christina Quarles and gallerist Pilar Corrias.

zuri marley

Virisa Yong/BFA.com

Zuri Marley.