The Artist as Philanthropist: The Emerging Field of Artist-Endowed Foundations

August 06, 2012
Monday, 10:30 a.m.
Farnsworth Auditorium
Please join us for a conversation about the emerging role of artist-endowed foundations as a force in cultural philanthropy. Christine J. Vincent, Study Director, The Aspen Institute’s National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations, and Christy MacLear, Executive Director, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, will discuss new research on this fast-growing field and highlight the activities of one of its leading institutions. The conversation will take place with Farnsworth Chief Curator Michael K. Komanecky. This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Farnsworth Collection. More information on this museum circle may be found here. Please note: This program is free of charge. For reservations, please email the Education Department at or by calling 207-596-0949
The Aspen Institute's Study, the first research effort to examine the field of private foundations endowed by visual artists in the U.S., documented 300 foundations, many created in the past two decades, holding $3 billion in assets, half in art and intellectual property. Bearing names such as Haring, Lichtenstein, Mapplethorpe, Pollock-Krasner, and Warhol, these organizations make grants to nonprofits and to artists and scholars. They steward art collections and archives, contribute artwork to museums, operate artist residency centers, and conduct cultural and educational programs. Some focus solely in the arts while others tackle social issues, such as HIV/AIDS, environmental conservation, animal welfare, and mental health. In 2008, the aggregate value of grants paid by the top 30 foundations was more than $52 million. The Study’s report may be viewed online at
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (RRF) was formed by the artist (1925-2008) during his lifetime to promote awareness of the causes and groups close to his heart. Following the conversion of Rauschenberg’s Estate into the Foundation, RRF oversees the management of Robert Rauschenberg’s artwork, including its exhibition and scholarship, as well as the growth of philanthropy programs central to Rauschenberg’s concerns during his lifetime. RRF’s operations now include scholarship & curatorial activities at 381 Lafayette, Rauschenberg’s New York home and studio; exploratory projects at RRF’s 19th Street Project Space; philanthropic programs focused on activism; innovation & collaboration; art and education; and seed-funding grass-roots arts organizations; and, finally, the Captiva Artists Residency. The Foundation’s programs and resources are detailed online at
Christine J. Vincent is Study Director of the Aspen Institute's National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations. A leader in cultural philanthropy and education, she is a former Ford Foundation deputy director for media, arts and culture and a former president of Maine College of Art. Her work with the Aspen Institute is supported by venerable arts donors, including the Ford, Getty, and Luce Foundations, as well as prominent artist-endowed foundations, such as those of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Mitchell, and Robert Rauschenberg. Her advisory clients include the Jay DeFeo Trust, Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, among others. 
Christy MacLear is the Inaugural Executive Director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Her expertise is in the strategy and start-up planning for large scale art, architectural and design related projects. Prior positions include being the Inaugural Executive Director of the Philip Johnson Glass House, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in New Canaan, Connecticut; Director of a Cultural & Urban Design Project in Chicago which moved Lakeshore Drive to create a lake-front park; and the Manager of Strategic Planning for Walt Disney Company's “Celebration” Project. Christy is on the advisory committee for Harvard's Historic Homes, Stanford's Arts Committee and Cranbrook's National Advisory Committee. She has a degree from Stanford University in Architectural History and Urban Design and an MBA from Wharton where she graduated as a Barnes Fellow.

Christine J. Vincent
Christine J. Vincent. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan


Christy MacLear

Christy MacLear. Photo by Carsten Fleck

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