Art to End Mass Incarceration

Agnes Gund, patron of the arts and president emerita of MoMA, has sold one of her most valuable paintings for the purpose of creating a fund that supports criminal justice reform and seeks to reduce mass incarceration in the United States.

The new Art for Justice Fund will be administered through the Ford Foundation and will make grants to organizations who have a track record in criminal justice reform. The fund will also support art-related programs on mass incarceration.

The fund will start with $100 million in funding and will grow as others make commitments to it through the sale of their art. 

Founding donors include Laurie M. Tisch, Kenneth I. Chenault, the philanthropist Jo Carole Lauder; the financier Daniel S. Loeb; and Brooke Neidich, a Whitney trustee.

 Roy Lichtenstein’s “Masterpiece” (1962), which was sold to the collector Steven A. Cohen through Acquavella Gallery for $165 million, including fees

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Masterpiece” (1962), which was sold to the collector Steven A. Cohen through Acquavella Gallery for $165 million, including fees

I love this quote from the New York Times article announcing the fund:

“There’s long been this criticism that people who have the means to acquire fine art are allowed to surround themselves with beautiful things while they are unwilling to look at the ugly realities that sometimes shape a community or a culture or a country,” said Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. “Using this art to actually respond to over-incarceration or racial inequality or social injustice is a powerful idea.”

And another one from Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation:

“The larger idea is to raise awareness among a community of art collectors that they can use their influence and their collections to advance social justice,” said Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation’s president. “Art has meaning on a wall, but it also has meaning when it is monetized.”