Over the past months, I have had the opportunity to think a lot about the future of the art world. With my departure from the Museum of Contemporary Art, the death of Mike Kelley, and my increased responsibilities as a co-director of the foundation he began in 2007, I have been forced to think about both the changed landscape of the arts in Los Angeles and internationally. I have always known that my first responsibility is to the artists themselves and that they should be privileged in the mix of public collectors, critics, dealers, and curators that make up my world.
Artists have never let me down. With Mike (again) another world has revealed itself to me—artists foundations that support their own. I have had the good fortune to closely observe the great work of the Krasner, Pollock, Gotlieb, Warhol, Rauschenberg, and now the Mike Kelley Foundation. Artists are clearly becoming even more important in supporting artists and their ideas, not just the things they make. Surely one of the great bonuses of the commodification of art is that the artists can and are making a huge difference in the lives of future generation of less commercialized artists.
With the hundreds of artists foundations already existing in the U.S. and many more to be formed by the wealthiest generation of artists ever, their legacies will become among the most important not-for-profit institutions to directly support the arts.
PAUL SCHIMMEL was Chief Curator of MoCA Los Angeles from 1991 to 2012. He is currently Chairman of the Mike Kelley Foundation and Co-Curator of the Richard Hamilton retrospective.