Art

How to Make Artist Donations Go All the Way

Curator Clara Zevi and artist Oscar Tiné band together to help artists make the most of their generosity.

Kat Herriman

1. Pamela Hanson, Lara
Pamela Hanson’s Lara, 2008. Gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm). Donating to Harlem Children’s Zone. Courtesy of the artist.

This year saw a profound shift in the nonprofit landscape, as in-person fundraisers like galas were swiped off the table of possibilities along with so many clattering plates. Turning inwards for support, arts institutions cannibalized those they are meant to support, tasking artists with the burden of creating something compelling to sell while adding layers of expenses—production costs in the case of editions and the all the trimmings that go into confecting a benefit auction. This didn’t sit right with Clara Zevi, a curator and art historian, nor with her friend, artist Oscar Tiné, who together decided they could provide a lynchpin service to those artists who did want to give back in this moment. Their idea was simple: with a company of two and no overhead, they could place new and old works by living artists with buyers who’d commit the piece’s value to a charity of the artist’s choice. They called the organization Artists Support, which is indeed the largest hope Zevi and Tine have for their new side gig. There are no financial gains to be had here, but rather satisfaction in the value made together.

When Zevi first mentioned the project to me in late summer, I was surprised that galleries hadn’t gotten to the idea first, as it is a way for people like Zevi to leverage skills and networks to channel money easily toward the causes that artists care about. The idea struck a chord: their launch last week included artists such as Lorna Simpson, Louise Lawler and Hiroshi Sugimoto. There was something hopeful to me about their endeavor: curators and artists donating time and resources together to ensure a 100% transmission of funds. The marketplace continues to rage with landmark contemporary auctions and waves of nomadic pop-up spaces, so why not use the demand for blue chip work to enrich causes outside of art’s immediate purview?

 

Lorna Simpson’s Queen Butterfly, 2020. A collage on paper framed: 20 13/16 x 18 7/8 in. (52.9 x 47.9 cm).  Donating to Until Freedom. © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by James Wang.
Lorna Simpson’s Queen Butterfly, 2020. A collage on paper framed: 20 13/16 x 18 7/8 in. (52.9 x 47.9 cm). Donating to Until Freedom. © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by James Wang.
artist.   Kembra Pfahler and Rick Owens’ Untitled, 2016. Digital c-print framed: 26 x 19.5 in. (66 x 49.5 cm). Donating to Food Bank For New York City. Courtesy of the artist and Emalin, London.
artist. Kembra Pfahler and Rick Owens’ Untitled, 2016. Digital c-print framed: 26 x 19.5 in. (66 x 49.5 cm). Donating to Food Bank For New York City. Courtesy of the artist and Emalin, London.
Stephen Shore’s Texas Hots, 2693 South Park Avenue, Lackawanna, New York, October 25, 1977, 1977 (printed 2015). A chromogenic color print; unframed: 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.1 cm). Donating to: The Photography Program at Bard Materials Fund.
Stephen Shore’s Texas Hots, 2693 South Park Avenue, Lackawanna, New York, October 25, 1977, 1977 (printed 2015). A chromogenic color print; unframed: 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.1 cm). Donating to: The Photography Program at Bard Materials Fund.