new york times

No More Federal Funding for the Arts?

Trump poster in Iowa

Leaked details regarding the Trump Administration's planned budget proposal suggest that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are all on the chopping block. The NEH and NEA reportedly will be terminated and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting sold off.

In terms of the federal budget, it has been well documented that the support for the arts makes up a vanishingly small portion of the federal budget (less than .001% annually).

De-funding the NEA and NEH have long been a goal of some conservative members of Congress, who consistently point to a handful of controversial exhibitions that received some NEA funding. However, the NEA provides thousands of grants to recipients across the nation, including to many areas where citizens have little local access to cultural resources.

As Graham Bowley of the NYT notes, the NEA and NEH had already taken significant hits even before Trump's election, having been evicted from their offices to make way for the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC. In an apt sign of the times, renovation of the Trump Hotel cost over USD $200 million, which exceeds the entire budgets of the NEA and NEH combined.

Trump Administration Policies to Disrupt International Art Collaborations


The Trump Administration's sweeping, if ambiguous, new immigration policies will have profound effects on international, collaborative arts programming. Thomas P. Campbell, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, recognizes that the new policies will undermine efforts to improve relationships with the effected nations through art and cultural exchange:

“Scholarly exchanges and international collaborations are key to our ongoing work, and we are very concerned that a number of programs we have in place could be threatened, just at a time when the world needs more, not less, exchange and mutual understanding.”

Met curator Kim Benzel notes that the exhibitions likely to be disrupted would have provided a focus on themes of freedom and human rights in a historical, cross-cultural context:

“[The impact of Trump Administration policies] is particularly ironic, given that the earliest formulation of what we recognize today as the concept of habeas corpus was expressed in the Codex Hammurabi, an ancient Iraqi monument about justice, set up in public so that all citizens could access their rights.” 

“It was one of the many contributions of Iraq to the world, and in this case, to democracy itself,” she added. “Where and how did things go so wrong?”

Richard Prince Disavows Portrait of Ivanka Trump -- Owned by Ivanka Trump

richard prince tweet

Renowned appropriation artist Richard Prince has disavowed authorship of a portrait of Ivanka Trump that was featured in his series of works-based on Instagram images, "New Portraits," and is owned by Ms. Trump. Prince has reportedly refunded the USD $36,000 which Ms. Trump paid for the work in 2014 and "denounced" the work as "fake" on his Twitter account.

Prince further elaborated, "It’s a way of me saying to them I don’t want my work in your possession. I don’t want anything to do with your family."

In keeping with the phenomenon whereby any efforts to attack the Trumps seem to only end up benefiting them, the Times suggests that the monetary value of the work will likely increase -- the artist's disavowal notwithstanding.

The Times quotes art advisor and former Sotheby's executive Joshua Holdeman: “As far as the market is concerned, if an artist says a work isn’t by him, but it’s clear that he made it and presented it as his work, well it kind of is what it is. My intuition about this is that when history plays out, this will probably end up being a more culturally rich object than if this whole episode hasn’t happened.”

Christie's 100 Million Dollar Man Departs for Private Gallery


Today marks a major shift in the art world ecosystem with the announcement that Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's, is leaving the auction house to join private dealer Dominique Levy. Gorvy has been responsible for a string of recent record sales at Christie's, including Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger ($180 million) and Modigliani's "Nu Couche" ($170 million).