Art Philanthropy in 2023

December 8, 2023

We explore recent high-profile philanthropic initiatives in the art world.

Philanthropy has been a longstanding aspect of the art world, with artists, galleries, collectors, and auction houses actively contributing to charitable causes. While one-off charity events have been prominent, the integration of a consistent philanthropic element in the art market also now exists. 

Access by Art Basel, Powered by Arcual:

Art Basel launched a new online sales platform for Art Basel Miami Beach, Access by Art Basel, which integrates charitable donations seamlessly into art commerce.

Collectors can make purchase requests on artworks with a customisable donation pledge, supporting The Miami Foundation and The International Committee of the Red Cross. Payments are processed effortlessly within the online platform, ensuring both the gallery and the beneficiary receive their payout split automatically.

Philanthropy in the Cultural Landscape:

Private foundations established by artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Mitchell, Andy Warhol, and Helen Frankenthaler play a significant role in cultural philanthropy and heritage stewardship.

Tracey Emin exemplifies artist-driven philanthropy, having raised millions for various charities and establishing TKE Studios to support emerging artists through the Tracey Emin Foundation.

Spectacle Charity Auctions:

Auction houses like Phillips, Sotheby’s, and Christie’s have hosted high-profile charity auctions, raising substantial amounts for various organizations.

In 2023, Christie’s "Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection" sale dedicated $1,622,249,500 to philanthropy in accordance with Paul G. Allen’s wishes, while Sotheby’s auctions raised over $430 million for 240 charitable organisations in 2022.

Empowering Galleries and Collectors:

Access by Art Basel enhances opportunities for collectors to engage with top-tier artworks, breaking down barriers and providing access to galleries that might otherwise be inaccessible. In the current climate of social, environmental, and political awareness, Access facilitates greater collaboration between galleries, artists, and collectors to champion causes seamlessly.

Pictured: Maja Ruznic, Winged Hero (After Klee), 2023. Courtesy of Karma and the artist.