Hammer Museum Auction at Sotheby’s Will Benefit Artist Fund

By Peter Libbey


Artists can be reluctant to part with their work, especially if they’re not being paid. But on Thursday, the Hammer Museum at UCLAannounced that more than 35 contemporary artists, including Ed Ruscha and Vija Celmins, will donate pieces to raise money for the museum’s new Artist Fund. Their work will be auctioned off in New York at Sotheby’s in May.

Ann Philbin, the director of the Hammer, said that support is a testament to the closeness between the museum and the artists it exhibits. “Many of the artists in the auction have had long and deep relationships with the Hammer,” she said by email. “In a lot of cases we offered them their first museum show in Los Angeles.” Ms. Philbin cited Mark Grotjahn, Kaari Upson, Jonas Wood and Kevin Beasley as examples.

She also mentioned Mark Bradford, “a close friend and partner for the museum over the last 20 years,” whose first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, “Scorched Earth” was at the Hammer. Mr. Bradford’s contribution to the auction, a mixed-media painting titled “Scratch Pink” (2018), is estimated to sell for $2 to 3 million.

The auctions, set for May 16 and 17 at Sotheby’s New York, will be preceded by public exhibitions of the a work in Los Angeles at the UTA Artist Space April 17-20 and in New York at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning May 3.

The drive to raise money for the Artist Fund, which will support the work and exhibition of emerging artists, is a part of the Hammer’s $180 million dollar capital campaign. Since February 2018 the museum has raised more than $140 million of its goal.