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Lorna Simpson, Rirkrit Tiravanija and other artists donate works to benefit New York charities

The Artists Support initiative will donate 100% of proceeds to local organisations

Lorna Simpson, Queen Butterfly (2020) © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by James Wang

As artists worldwide continue to mobilise to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their communities, the New York-based blue-chip artists Lorna Simpson, Louise Lawler, Rirkrit Tiravanija and others have donated works to benefit a grass-roots initiative that donates all proceeds to local charities.

The non-profit Artists Support project, launched in December by the art historian Clara Zevi and the Brooklyn-based artist Oscar Tiné, has so far raised more than $70,000 for local organisations, including the Coalition for the Homeless and the New York Food Bank.

“When the pandemic hit, we began looking at what museums and galleries were doing to help and saw a space for something that was fully charitable and that could be powered by artists,” Zevi says. “And the model worked, which is the most incredible part of it all.”

The basic idea of the initiative is that “the artists donate to charities of their choice, the donor makes a donation and receives a work in return, and the charities get a no-frills donation”, Zevi says. “Everyone involved benefits, and it’s something that is totally self-sustainable.”

While the project may seem quixotic as the art world grapples with severe financial disruption, it has received “tremendous support” from galleries including Gladstone and Sprüth Magers as well as Metro Pictures, which just announced that it is closing its doors, Zevi says. “The fact that people want to do charitable work at a time like this is truly moving.”

The project features prints ranging from $3,000 to $35,000, including a collage that Simpson created during lockdown titled Queen Butterfly (2020) and Tiravanija’s Untitled 2008 (Fifty Dollar The Days of This Society is Numbered) (2008)—an ongoing series critiquing capitalist culture, of which another example belongs to the Museum of Modern Art.