Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Trend: Artist's Foundations

artists who have foundations include Joan Mitchell, Keith Haring, and William deKooning

Artist's Foundations

Funding is a constant worry for artists living in Kansas.  Not only is it a tough market, many resources no longer exist, such as the Kansas Arts Commission. However, a new source of funding for artists may come from the recent trend in grants from artist's foundations.  Although government and corporate support for the arts is decreasing, artist's foundations are increasing in number and revenue, and they are looking for ways to help artists as part of their mission statements.  Local artist Amber Hansen was awarded a Warhol Foundation grant for her project A Story of Chickens, and we see funding for exhibitions and donations of work to museums by these foundations.

Artists who have foundations include the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Pollack-Krasner Foundation, the Keith Haring Foundation and the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Some of the most generous foundations are from artists still living such as The Alex Katz Foundation and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.  Museums have become dependent on these foundations. For instance, a gift of 200 photographs by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation helped create a photography gallery and program at the Guggenheim Museum.

In addition to funding artists and museum exhibitions, these foundations oversee individual artist's legacies by documenting and protecting work.  However, concerns of liability and cost have led many foundations such as the Warhol Foundation and the Pollack-Krasner Foundation ( the largest donor to individual artists) to make the decision not to fund costly authenticating of work, freeing funds that now may go toward helping working artists.

More on Foundations 
A report by the Aspen Institute in 2011 surprised people who cover art news when they found that there are over 300 artist- endowed foundations and assets are around $2.7 billion.  Although these assets are relatively small in the art world, these foundations focus on grant making for museums, arts related research and publications, arts education, scholarships, and programs for living artists. According to a study, most artists foundations tend to be small,  holding less than $5 million dollars in assets, and the assets are mostly in the form of works of art. The bigger foundations, such as the Warhol Foundation, awarded $14 million in cash grants to arts organizations last year.

The foundations are important to the arts because many fund artists directly.  After Hurricane Katrina, the Joan Mitchell Foundation gave cash awards to artists who were financially struggling after the disaster. The foundations also have an impact on the content of exhibitions in museums.  The Warhol foundation withdrew funds from one if its exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. after it withdrew a work for reasons of content.  Citing "blatant censorship, " the Foundation has vowed not to fund any further exhibitions at Smithsonian museums.

Traditional foundations still give the most money to the arts.  For instance, in one year, the Ford Foundation awarded $54 million dollars.

In the decade between 1996-2005, artist-endowed foundations almost doubled in number and their combined assets more than tripled. Many living artists are setting up foundations that will be activated when they die, meaning that the trend will continue.

Info taken from the study from the Aspen Institute, pub Philanthropy News Digest Jan 2011 and 
The Artist as Philanthropist, Art News, Jan 2012
A Matter of Opinion, Art News, Feb 2012
Sleeping with the Giant of Philantrhopy The Art Newspaper, January 2011

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