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Panelists to Discuss Growing Role of Artist-endowed Foundations in Cultural Philanthropy

For Immediate Release
July 10, 2015

Williamstown, MA—The Clark Art Institute and The Aspen Institute present “The Artist as Philanthropist,” a panel discussion exploring the rise of private foundations created by visual artists, on Saturday, July 25 at 2:30 pm. The discussion, free and open to the public, will be held in the Hunter Studio at the Lunder Center at Stone Hill on the Clark’s campus.

Bearing names such as Rauschenberg, Mitchell, Pollock-Krasner, Frankenthaler, Lichtenstein, Haring, and Warhol, artist-endowed foundations are a rapidly emerging force in cultural philanthropy and artistic heritage stewardship. The panel discussion explores the emerging role of artist-endowed foundations as a force in cultural philanthropy and in the stewardship of America’s artistic heritage. Panelists will highlight pioneering research by the Aspen Institute, published as National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations, documenting the rise in private foundations created in the United States by visual artists.

The Aspen Institute's study, the first research effort to examine this small but fast-growing field, has documented more than 360 foundations—many created in the past two decades—holding $3.5 billion in assets, including $2 billion in art and intellectual property. These organizations make grants to nonprofits and to artists and scholars. They steward art collections and archives, operate study centers, contribute artwork to museums, manage artist residency facilities, and conduct art education programs. Some focus solely on the arts while others also address social issues, such as HIV/AIDS, environmental conservation, animal welfare, and mental health.

Panelists include Christa Blatchford, CEO, Joan Mitchell Foundation; Elizabeth Smith, executive director, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation; Nancy Mowll Mathews, author of the Maurice and Charles Prendergast catalogue raisonné; Stephen K. Urice, professor of law, University of Miami School of Law; and Christine J. Vincent, project director, The Aspen Institute's Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative. Jennifer Dowley, president, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, will serve as panel moderator.

This event is generously sponsored by Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, open to the public with more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open daily in July and August, 10 am to 5 pm; open September through June, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit or call 413 458 2303.

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