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We feel honored to have welcomed over 200 artists, artist’s family members and artist’s estate managers from all over the world to the Institute for Artists’ Estates inaugural conference to discuss successful artist estate planning and management. Our expectations were exceeded in every respect due to highly the inspiring talks and an amazing audience. We would like to thank all of you who made this event possible. The next conference will take place in 2018; detailed information to be announced in summer 2017.

Please find selected press coverage on the past conference here:

Opening Lecture: “Timeless, Authorless”

John C. Welchman, Chair of the Mike Kelly Foundation for the Arts and Professor of Modern Art History at UC San Diego gave the opening lecture. Welchman’s lecture sought to highlight a number of existential issues related to the functioning of a foundation. Welchman asked how we might approach cultural ventriloquism, how we can speak for an artist, which is essentially the work of an artist’s foundation. He further noted the “new beaurocratic temporality in which few things can be done quickly and everything must of course be done properly” that many foundations are confronted with. Welchman made a case for learning from the way Mike Kelley approached donating, education, and the public within his work, but also added that there are a number of difficulties associated with speaking for an artist—how can one ever really know what at artist would have done after all. Mike Kelley is good example of someone who makes this task very difficult because he “satirized virtually all of the things foundations do.” He thought very deeply, and rather against the grain, about acts of giving. Reflecting on Kelley’s approach to art and life in general, we might ask: “How do we channel, contain, apportion, even censor the darker side of the foundation cosmos?”

“All Fathers Die, Not These!” Artists’ Estate Management as a Family Affair

Family members are usually the first people to be faced with an artist’s estate after his or her death, and families are also often the staunchest supporters in perpetuating an artist’s oeuvre. In this panel, the audience heard about the first-hand experience of a number of family members of artists. Magda Salvesen, author of the book Artists’ Estates: Reputations in Trust and curator of the Estate of Jon Schueler, who also moderated, introduced this very personal panel.

Mayen Beckmann, granddaughter of the German Expressionist Max Beckmann and manager of the Beckmann Estate, began by noting the she had not expected to takeover her grandfathers estate, which was originally split between family in the US and Germany. Her mother had formerly been the holder after inheriting from her husband, Peter Beckmann, the son of Max Beckmann. She (and her family) had to fight to have much of the estate since Beckmann’s heirs in the US had made plans without discussing them with the heirs in Germany. In her comments, Mayen Beckmann stressed the relationship she had with her grandfather’s paintings having grown up surrounded by them, and though she had not planned on stewarding her grandfather’s legacy it was a role for which she had a natural talent.

Mary Moore, daughter of British sculptor Henry Moore and manager of the Henry Moore Estate, spoke about the artists’ vision, and made a case for it being the most important thing for a foundation. She further spoke about growing up with Moore, about how she was “thinking, eating, breathing sculpture” for much of her youth—which continued into adulthood. After delving into the details of growing up with sculpture so much a part of her life, she noted how the care of her father’s estate was a “duty”; she further added that she thought the personal aspect, i.e., having a family member involved, adds something of the artist into the institution.

Flavin Judd, son of US-American artist Donald Judd and Co-President of the Judd Foundation, further highlighted the need for a personal connection with respect to an artist’s wishes, arguing that in his case it was absolutely necessary for he and his sister, Rainer Judd, to assert their father’s wishes with respect to the foundation. Immediately after Donald Judd passed away lawyers and others weren’t very helpful since they were trying to get the family to sell Judd’s properties; and the SoHo building, which was in quite bad shape, was thought not worthwhile. Despite this, Flavin and Rainer kept the property and thought long-term, eventually raising enough capital to renovate the property on Spring Street, in New York City’s SoHo district. Judd spoke passionately about the need for the apartment/studio on Spring Street as well as the property in Marfa, Texas, arguing that they were necessary for understanding the “context” of Donald Judd’s work.

Hélène Vandenberghe, daughter of Belgian painter Philippe Vandenberg and co-manager of the Estate Philippe Vandenbergalso focused on the familial connection, noting how she and her two brothers closed their father’s studio immediately after his death in order to try to figure out how to shape his legacy. This move allowed the siblings to reflect on Philippe Vandenberg’s oeuvre and determine what they thought should be done with it.

The audience asked whether or not being intimate with an artist might help one to understand the work better. There was a difference of opinion on how important context is; some think distance is good, so that you don’t always view artwork through the lens of one’s father’s work. But others, like Flavin Judd, stressed that the connection really does put the heirs in the best position to work with an estate or foundation.

This was a very personal panel, with all the panelists revealing intimate details about their relationship with their father (or grandfather in the case of Mayen Beckmann). But they also revealed numerous things that would be helpful for any artist estate or foundation, such as the importance of the work’s interpretation and how to handle pressure from lawyers and galleries.

Heirs and others who inherit an artist’s work are at the forefront of those bridging the gap between an oeuvre and its reception by the general public, which was traditionally the remit of art historians and museums.

Building The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Christy MacLear, Executive Director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, next spoke about building the Rauschenberg Foundation. Rauschenberg, who MacLear notes thought about his legacy before he died, “ticked all the boxes” that he was interested in when he was thinking about setting up his foundation. From arts education to the environment, the Rauschenberg Foundation impacts several areas of life that the artist found worthy of support. Since his death the Foundation has extended its board membership, including an environmental scientist, which helps to build a bridge between Rauschenberg’s interests and the community at large. But like Hélène Vandenberghe, MacLear spoke of how important it was to understand one’s assets so that one might create a “time horizon”—a timeframe within which certain goals should be accomplished. And like many of the speakers up to this point, MacLear emphasized the importance of understanding the artist’s “values,” which in turn helps the heirs and foundation decide what to do with the assets. In other words, understanding an artist’s values or interests can help one to apportion assets so that all the goals for the foundation are reached.

Going somewhat against the trend, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation decided to open up copyright so that anyone can use images of Rauschenberg’s work free of charge. The decision came after the Foundation saw how many mistakes were being made in date/title attributions and thought it would be better to allow scholars and other interested parties to take charge, and ensure the titles, years, and other relevant data was correct. This is in keeping with the Foundation’s belief in “art as a communicative currency.”

Back to Square One: Jean Arp – Repositioning of a Long-established Estate

Loretta Würtenberger, Director of the Institute for Artists’ Estates, spoke about repositioning a long-established estate, that of Jean Arp’s. Having passed away in 1966, Hans Arp left no children and his second wife and widow – Marguerite Arp-Hagenbach, who was a great collector in her own right – bequeathed his estate to a non-profit foundation founded in 1977: The Stiftung Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp e.V. After a successful start, the foundation ended up thirty years later being involved in discussions about posthumous casting and was struggling to find the right strategy for the future. It was at this time that Loretta Würtenberger and her husband Daniel Tümpel became involved in consulting the board of the Stiftung Arp e.V. In order to refocus discussions back to Arp’s relevance for art history as one of the great masters of sculpture of the 20th century and to reinvigorate the estate, there were three areas of focus: academia, museums/curatorial, and the market. Each of these areas required a proactive approach, often incentivizing people to take another look at Arp’s work. The Arp Archive, for example, was set up in Berlin and made accessible, allowing visitors to see different work that has not been seen before, to see work different from the few canonical pieces already well-known to people.

Artists Estates and Museums

This panel, chaired by Arie Hartog, Director of the Museum Gerhard Marcks, looked at the relationship between artists’ estates and foundations. A museum might seem a natural place to turn for relatives of a deceased artist after all.

Joost Declercq, Director of the Dhondt-Dhaenens Museum and former director of the Hartung Foundation, spoke about his multifaceted relation to museums, governments, galleries, and artists, which he said “was the most important thing”—“it’s not about objects, it’s about artists,” as he reiterated. He was formerly director of the Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman’s estate. Hartung only mentioned that “he wanted a foundation” and this gave those setting up the foundation freedom with its remit. Though they did struggle with Hartung’s public perception, which had faded by time of his death—he was considered bourgeois—the foundation was able to address this by opening up the archive and by building accommodation where artists and curators could stay. In this case, many of those involved were artists, which as “positive” thing, and helped to reinvigorate interest in Hartung’s work. Problems with museums, who wanted the works divided up between them, and the financial problems associated with running a large foundation, were partially alleviated by the money and assets left by Hartung.
Declercq emphasized that “a museum is never able to have the emotional energy a foundation or estate has.” Museums cannot be conscious of the market, and so a foundation (or estate) is better placed to invigorate a deceased artist’s oeuvre. The Hartung Estate also invested in ICT—information and communication technology—to get the images of the artist into the public. Opening a foundation allows you to reflect on the complete body of art produced by an artist.

Thomas Köhler, Director of Berlinische Galerie, explained the origin of the Berlinische Galerie, which was established as a place for art made in Berlin. The founders did not have a collection, however, and so were looking for artists’ estates to purchase. They are still working on the first estates the Galerie acquired. You never know how important an artist will be, so it is important to rediscover and reevaluate those artists whose estates the Galerie cares for. You need time, space, and money. While museums are slow and need to be selective, they are deliberate, and very thorough at sorting out art historically important items. And they are well positioned to accept estates in a limited form. Can be the basis of very visionary work.

Arie Hartog noted that heritage is not a matter of what we like now—it has a broader and longer scope. Speaking about Gerhard Marcks, Hartog told us how he was well known at his time (1920s), but then was mostly forgotten until he began making war memorials.
Marcks was concerned that people did not like his work and therefore wanted to have a foundation so the public might discover it after his death. After searching for a city to house his estate, and after many rejections, Bremen agreed to host it. In addition to working on the legacy of Gerhard Marcks, Hartog and the Marcks-Haus are also concerned with modern and contemporary (figurative) sculpture more generally. Questions from the audience regarded taking on complete estates and gift-to-loan/loan-to-gift models. The panelists noted that is difficult for museums to take on complete estates due to limited space and money.

Strategies for Artists’ Archives

Dirk Boll, Managing Director Continental Europe at Christie`s, chaired the panel on the importance of archives for artists’ estates.

Dietmar Elger, Head of the Gerhard Richter Archive in Dresden at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, told the audience about the founding of the archive. The Archive has been has been in existence as an institution of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden since 2006. He noted how the estate and the archive will separate upon Richter’s death, and are already seperate insofar as the studio and the archive are independent. Elgar began collecting material for the archive early, before there even was an archive, having worked as Richter’s secretary, and so the collection is quite deep. He explained the function of the archive as mainly helping with research, since the Archive has a massive collection of material related to Richter and his work; they have catalogues where Richter’s work appears, all the published writings on Richter, and they organize the catalogues raisonnés. They also responsible for writing certificates of authenticity.

Barry Rosen, prominent artist’s estate advisor, who has advised numerous artists’ estates, including Eva Hesse and Dieter Roth, approaches the topic somewhat philosophically, asking about the ” ‘Why’ of an archive?”. -“Why do we want an artist’s archive, or why do we want to preserve them? Basically, we are interested in what artists make, and so the things associated with that person and their creations have an intrinsic interest based on our interest in the artwork.” Rosen has advised different estates, like the Hesse, Chihuly, Roth, and Ida Appleboorg. His experience has led him to be cautious of totalizing models of how to reinvigorate or reposition an artist, instead focussing on the uniqueness of each artist’s estate and situation.

Audience questions concerned the future of archiving, and in particular its digital future. Dietmar Elgar noted that the Richter Archive uses a database, but also tries to keep hard copies of everything. While Barry Rosen wondered if the future isn’t already here, with institutions like the Getty Research Institute buying archives and digitalizing them, like that of Allan Kaprow’s.

Authenticating Picasso – Issues and Strategic Considerations 

Claudia Andrieu, Head of Legal Affairs at the Picasso Administration, spoke about the complex process of authentication with regards to the work of Pablo Picasso. She notes how authentication remains a large problem, with the Picasso estate receiving more than 1,000 requests for authentication per year. The stakes are not only high because Picasso’s prices are among the highest in the world, but also because so much of his person— like his signature, his image, etc.— is used for various purposes around the world. There was not choice but to try to preserve the legacy of Picasso. Authentication comes from an authority and can impose its decision—it is an act of power. The Picasso Administration was set up to deal with the painter’s rights in order to stop the booming of unauthorized use. At an earlier time, the art dealers defeated the Succession Picasso in authentication matters; the French court in 1989 granted Claude Ruiz Picasso the right to administer the estate of Picasso. In the intervening time Claude Picasso and the family had to fight an onslaught of fakes. For Picasso the provenance of an artwork is the only way to ensure authenticity.

Catalogues Raisonnés

Friederike Gräfin von Brühl, art lawyer and partner at KL Gates, moderated the panel on catalogues raisonnés—a very important aspect of artists’ foundations that was mentioned by several speakers. It is an interesting instrument that can be used by artists’ estate, since it can have something to say about authenticity, or what is included and not included, which in turn can effect the perception of the artist’s oeuvre as well as the prices of certain works.

First, Arie Hartog, Director of the Museum Gerhard Marcks, told the audience how a catalogue raisonné helped to reestablish the work of Gerhard Marcks, without it Marcks may have been mostly forgotten by art history. There was a large oeuvre and so a catalogue raisonné tried to keep up with the canonical editions, and served as a clear guiding line for the estate. After a number of other books, the Marcks Haus began to think of rules for catalogues raisonnés, and together with the Association of Sculpture Museums in Germany has made a set of guidelines for catalogues raisonnés. One rule is to use two dates: a date of conception and the date of the actual casting. But there are many reasons to have a catalogue raisonné and the story of Marcks is only one example of how important to an artist’s oeuvre.

David Nash, founder/owner of New York gallery Mitchell-Innes and Nash, treated the conference to a history of the catalogue raisonné of Cézanne, beginning in 1936. The initial catalogue proved to be very inadequate, while the John Rewald edition published in 1996 was a vast improvement. However, it only provided very few color photographs, which Nash found lamentable, so he determined to make a better one—initially only a colour supplement. He made the decision to add Jayne Warman and Walter Feichelnfeldt, who had worked on the original Rewald edition. The decision to go digital was difficult because the financial cost was extremely high. In the end he came to be very much in its favor. It is free, has wonderful colourful images, is constantly updated, and users can make side-by-side comparisons. Nash and his colleagues have updated the catalogue raisonné, adding works and also omitting works that were previously included.

Andrea C. Theil, Catalogue Raisonné Manager and Researcher at the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, emphasized taking your time with a catalogue raisonné. Theil explained the foundations research methodology; they use in-house and exterior research teams combined with physical examination, which can be quite difficult to secure. These techniques can yield new information, which can in turn inform the catalogue raisonné even more. But this is the best way to provide the most information. The Lichtenstein catalogue raisonné will be published online, after initially planning on a printed version, in its entirety in 2020. It will possibly to have a printed “summary” to be published sometime after.

A number of questions from the audience concerned the importance of catalogues raisonnés, but all agree that they are important for keeping an artist’s legacy alive. A further interesting question was about what to include in the catalogue raisonné, after all some artists throw away works (as Lichtenstein did), deny them (as Francis Bacon did), or insist while they not be included (as Jasper Johns did).

Strategies for Mid-Size Artists’ Estates

Volker Diehl, of the Volker Diehl Gallery, moderated a panel that included Hélène Vandenberghe, Muna Tseng, and Mark Waugh.

Hélène Vandenberghe noted how all estates have one thing in common: art. And the goal of all foundations and estates is to preserve the work and keep it alive in the world.Vandenberghe and her two brothers run the estate of their father, Philippe Vandenberg, along with a staff of seven (with an annual budget of ca. 70,0000 euros). She gave three suggestions, based on her experience, of how to do this.The first is to manage the heritage and studio of the artist. But in order to do this one needs to truly understand the quality of the artwork—can it hold up in an international context? Vandenberghe decided to close the studio and look at her father’s artwork in detail. At the end of this reflective and questioning period she and her bothers entered a civil partnership, which is a contract between parties that stipulates how they share communal capital.
A second way to keep the art alive is to stimulate research; one can make a catalogue raisonné, create an archive, or focus on re-interpretation. A combination of all three presents a strong strategy at reinvigorating interest in an artist. Vandenberghe also stressed the need for a database, while she noted how the estate established a partnership with the university, which houses and works on the archive. A third way of keeping an artist’s work alive and relevant is to make an artist’s oeuvre accessible (as the Jean Arp estate has done). Opening a studio to the public encourages attention, as does having other artists being interested in the work—artists have been the best ambassadors for the estate, and really help to keep a deceased artist’s work contemporary. One can also try to get the support of an international gallery, which will open up the artist’s work to avenues of reception and sales. Lastly, social media helps in getting the art out into the public, and at the end it is younger people who will bring the work into the future.

Muna Tseng, a dancer and sister of photographer Tseng Kwong Chi as well as the manager of the estate, raised the issue of speaking for an artist and allowed her brother to speak for himself by quoting a lengthy passage written by him. “The artist says it best,” summarizes Muna Tseng’s approach to her brother’s estate, and she further believes that creating a narrative for the artwork, thinking about how to present it, and how to tell the story of the artist are all necessary ingredients for an interesting and successful artist’s estate. She spoke with Kwong Chi Tseng before he died, and so was able to learn a lot about his “vision,” as she put it. He wanted to be acknowledge of a global artist of his time—1979–89. A
difficult, but necessary task is developing a proper narrative, deciding how and where to place an artist in the arc of art history. She routinely asked: “What would Kwong Chi do?” and recognised the need to find ways of engaging with the art market over time. The estate places original photographs in good collections and museums, and prints a limited number of posthumous editions according the same standards Kwong Chi used. They also license images for commercial use, and maintain a digital presence on social media. Muna Tseng ended by speaking eloquently about the importance of a personal connection for an artist’s estate.

Mark Waugh, Head of Research and Innovation at DACS, focussed on the strategies of dissemination and knowledge sharing. DACS is a not-for-profit visual artists’ rights management organization, which also helps artists become aware of legacy planning. Waugh asked what it means to be a large or mid-size estate, and noted that we usually answer this along financial parameters. However, this might not necessarily relate to the cultural value of those estates. Understanding the cultural value, even of small or minor estates, is key to helping artists safeguard cultural heritage. Art360 is funded by Arts Council England and supported by the expertise of partners the Art Fund, DACS, The Henry Moore Foundation, and The National Archives. It explores how cultural heritage in the visual arts can be safeguarded for future generations. The program helps artists to understand the nature of their archive, which in turn will help small estates understand legacy strategies.

In the discussion, Muna Tseng noted how her work began organically. She discussed the vision with her brother before he passed. Volker Diehl asked Mark Waugh whether he thought the best way to help an estate is to speak with the artist while they are still alive, to which Waugh replied that that is certainly the most efficient way. “It is about an artist dictating what they think is important based on a dialogue,” stated Waugh. Diehl asked Vandenberghe about support for estates in Belgium. She answered that one can do a lot on one’s own, with the help of some guidelines. The Philippe Vandenberg estate supports itself 100% with the sale of works. Muna Tseng also noted that her brother’s estate gains capital through the sale, including the sale of posthumous editions. A member of the audience asked how is recording the past actually going to help artists in the present and direct them towards the future. Mark Waugh replied that they try to help artists introduce studio practices that assist with archiving.