Institutional News

Art for Access launch yields more than $3.1 million to support scholarships

The launch of Bennington College’s new Art for Access initiative has yielded more than $3.1 million to establish the College’s inaugural Art for Access scholarship fund, which will provide financial aid for talented students who otherwise would not be able to afford a Bennington education.

Art for Access

The program, announced in September 2018, has two goals: to develop and expand the works of art in the College’s holdings to be used for teaching and enrichment; and, through the sale of selected works at regular intervals, to provide funding for student scholarships.

“Art for Access embodies the values that are central to Bennington College as an incubator of artistic groundbreakers and a leader in expanding access for deserving students,” said Bennington College President Mariko Silver. “Very few colleges could undertake such an effort as this, and it is a testament to the College's history of bringing extraordinary art to the world. Since Bennington’s founding, our art holdings were intended to be dynamic and changing. They are guided by the principle that we do what best supports our students and their education.”

This past fall, five paintings from the College’s holdings—all gifted without restriction years ago—were selected to be sold through Christie’s for the Art for Access launch. Christie’s sold Julian Dupre’s La moisson, 1887; Norman Bluhm’s Arondite, 1963; Diego Rivera’s Communards (Comuna de Paris), 1928; and George’s Mathieu’s Untitled, 1956 at their New York and Paris auctions in late fall. Helen Frankenthaler’s large-scale canvas Red Square, 1959, was sold privately after the auction.

“It has been an honor for our team at Christie’s to partner with Bennington College on the launch and successful inaugural funding of its Art for Access Scholarships,” said Bonnie Brennan, Deputy Chairman, Americas at Christie’s. “For Christie’s, this project signifies our ongoing commitment to working together with institutional clients to support transformative fundraising initiatives. It is gratifying for us as a company to know that the proceeds from our sales efforts will provide meaningful benefit to future Bennington students as they begin their journey with such a distinguished institution.”

Bennington College has established an Art for Access Committee comprised of alumni, parents, friends, and faculty with expertise across the visual arts to guide the effort and to seek new gifts of art. The Art for Access effort has already inspired new gifts to the College, including works by Richard Anuszkiewicz, Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Oskar Kokoschka, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and Michael Steiner, as well as a promised gift of a major, large-scale painting by Helen Frankenthaler from 1974. The committee is co-chaired by two Bennington College trustees, Michael Hecht and Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan ’91.

“We are thrilled to have such an impressive group of individuals who are committed to ensuring access, who have a deep understanding of Bennington’s approach to education and art, as well as who are extraordinarily well-connected in the art world,” said Paige Bartels, Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships. “The committee will broaden the College’s network and bring new resources that will benefit our current and future students in myriad ways.”

The Art for Access Committee members: Michael Hecht (co-chair), Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan ’91 (co-chair), Josh Blackwell ’95, Mark Coleman P ’18, Jeanne Collins Elderfield, Barbara Ushkow Deane ’51, Liz Deschenes, Andrea Fiuczynski ’85, Anna Gaskell ’92, Harold Koda, Lise Motherwell ’77, Will Ransom ’04, Ellen Safir ’66, Lincoln Schatz ’86, Andy Spence.