Dia Art Foundation
|Founders||Philippa de Menil|
|Jessica Morgan (director)|
|Endowment||$57 million (as of 2007)|
|Website||Dia Art Foundation website|
Dia Art Foundation is a nonprofit organization that initiates, supports, presents, and preserves art projects. It was established in 1974 by Philippa de Menil, the daughter of Houston arts patron Dominique de Menil and an heiress to the Schlumberger oil exploration fortune; art dealer Heiner Friedrich, Philippa's husband; and Helen Winkler, a Houston art historian. Dia provides support to projects "whose nature or scale would preclude other funding sources."
Dia holds a major collection of work by artists of the 1960s and 1970s, on view at Dia Beacon that opened in the Hudson Valley in 2003. Dia also presents exhibitions and programs at Dia Chelsea in New York City, located at 535, 541 and 545 West 22nd Street. In addition to its exhibition spaces at Dia Beacon and Dia Chelsea, Dia maintains and operates a constellation of commissions, long-term installations, and site-specific projects, notably focused on land art, nationally and internationally. Dia's permanent collection holdings include artworks by artists who came to prominence during the 1960s and 1970s, including Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and Andy Warhol. The art of this period represented a radical departure in artistic practice and is often large in scale; it is occasionally ephemeral or site-specific.
Currently, Dia commissions, supports, and presents site-specific installations and long-term exhibitions of work by these artists, as well as those of younger generations.
Heiner Friedrich was a German art dealer with galleries in Munich and Cologne which showed artists such as Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin. In 1973, Friedrich moved his galleries to New York City at 141 Wooster Street, now the site of The New York Earth Room. That year Friedrich traveled to Houston to visit the Rothko Chapel where he met Dominique de Menil's assistant Helen Winkler and was reintroduced to her daughter Philippa de Menil. Friedrich and Philippa de Menil would later both get divorces so they could marry each other in a 1979 Sufi ceremony and get a marriage license in 1982.
Friedrich, Winkler, and Philippa de Menil founded Dia in 1974. The goal of the organization was to fund artists creating work on scales or with underlying natures that the funding sources of the time could not support. Friedrich's plan was to create a funding system similar to patronage systems from the Renaissance. Robert Whitman, a performance artist funded by Dia, stated that Friedrich "wanted to make a Sistine Chapel, create a Shakespere." Friedrich had the vision and art contacts, while Philippa de Menil was heir to the Schlumberger oil fortune and had the money to support the idea.
Dia got its name from the Greek work "dia" which means "conduit." Friedrich explained the name choice with "'Dia' was chosen as a transitory term for an institution that would not be eternal but would make possible the presence of artworks on an extended, long-term basis" Dia first patronized a group of artists that included Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, La Monte Young, and Marian Zazeela. These artists received stipends, studios, and archivists in anticipation of one-man museums that Dia planned for several of them. Dia stayed away from press and was not well known through the '70s. The goal was for Dia to not have an identity and be a true "conduit" for the art works it was funding without adding themselves to it. An article by Phoebe Hoban in New York Magazine in 1985 called the foundation a "closely guarded secret" during this time period, references people calling it "the art Mafia," and notes that the organization didn't even have a letterhead.
Following a series of performance works and temporary exhibitions at Friedrich's gallery in SoHo, including the "Dream Festival" by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, Dia installed its first public artwork in 1975 at the Kunstmuseum Basel, in Basel, Switzerland. This artwork, Untitled (In memory of Urs Graf) by Dan Flavin, was installed in the museum's courtyard and consists of fluorescent tubes in varying colors outlining the space. This was followed in 1976 by a retrospective of six theater pieces by Robert Whitman
In 1977 Friedrich's gallery space was transformed into a permanent exhibition of Walter De Maria's The New York Earth Room and Dia's offices were moved to 107 Franklin Street where they planned the opening of three other works in 1977: Walter De Maria's The Vertical Earth Kilometer in Kassel Germany, and Lightning Field in New Mexico, as well as a permanent, multicolored, light installation by Dan Flavin stretching across three platforms at Grand Central Terminal in New York. The same year Dia purchased a volcanic crater in Arizona for James Turrell for his Roden Crater project (and later gave him approximately six million dollars to move the project forward). in 1979 the second location of Friedrich's gallery space, 393 West Broadway, was also given over to Walter De Maria for a permanent art installation, The Broken Kilometer.
In the first ten years, Dia was spending up to $5 million a year on less than twelve artists, funding art commissions and living expenses for individual artists between $2,500 and $17,500 a month. The foundation spent over $30 million dollars in less than 10 years amassing over 900 works and a small real estate empire. Philippa de Menil summed up how fast Dia did so much with "The reason we accomplished so much in terms of projects is that we just forged ahead and didn't worry about overspending."
Philippa de Menil's husband, Francesco Pellizzi, was on the original six-member board, and Dominique and Christophe de Menil were on the advisory council. Starting in 1979, the foundation hired architect Richard Gluckman and started looking for reinforced-concrete structures suitable for showing art. Gluckman helped locate Dia's present Chelsea building on West 23rd Street for a planned Cy Twombly museum, a performance space for Robert Whitman on West 19th Street, and the Mercantile Exchange on Harrison Street for Young and Zazeela. In 1980, Dia opened the Masjid Al-Fara, a Sufi mosque replete with Flavin light works and living quarters for Muzaffer Ozak, in a former firehouse at 155 Mercer Street.
The first years of Dia are marked with management issues, including paying taxes on properties that could be tax exempt and other extravagant spending. The mismanagement became so severe that by 1985 the New York state attorney general began an investigation into the foundation's practices. The financial difficulties during the 1980s reduced Dia's annual expenditures from $5 million in 1984 to 1.2 million in 1987, accompanied by Heiner Friedrich's departure and the end of Philippa de Menil's financial support though she continued to hold a position on Dia's board, the only holdover from the previous board.
Philippa de Menil's mother, Dominique de Menil, stepped in, ousted Friedrich and installed Ashton Hawkins, an executive vice president at the Metropolitan Museum, as Dia's chairman. Along with Hawkins, the new board members included Lois de Menil, John C. Evans, future United States Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, Margaret Douglas-Hamilton, and Herbert Brownell. Lois de Menil summed up the financial distress Dia was in with "We were absolutely appalled at the state of acute financial distress...There was a $5-million Citibank debt to pay, projected costs of $5-million, no operating budget, and no visible income." The new board dealt with many threatened and actual lawsuits from artist claiming the foundation broke contractual obligations.
With a new board in place, Charles Wright was hired as director and Gary Garrels as curator. The mosque was removed from 155 Mercer Street. La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela had to leave the Harrison Street building, which was then sold for $5.5 million. By the end of 1987, real-estate and art sales had brought in about $17 million to pay the debt and start an endowment. The foundation was renamed the Dia Center for the Arts and a program of poetry readings, performances, lectures and publications was begun.
In 2015 Jessica Morgan joined Dia as the new director. While Dia holds works by under 50 artist, Morgan focused new collecting on works by women and international artist to diversify the largely white and male collection. This push culminated in the acquisition of Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt. Morgan also ended the drive to build a new building in Chelsea and instead focused on joining three buildings the Foundation already owns and using raised funds to support the endowment. A $78 million capital campaign was announced in June 2018 and the target was raised to $90 million in May 2019. When asked about this sudden change from building a new building to a much smaller scope of construction in an interview in Artnet Morgan explained, "We’re very different from the Guggenheim or MoMA, where we think of specific buildings as being the landmark institutions. Dia has always followed a different route, which was finding spaces where the artists could share their vision with us." The New Dia Chelsea is scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2020 followed by updates, renovations, and expansions at other spaces under the Dia purview. A new gallery will open in SoHo in a retail space Dia has rented out for 10 years, 11,000 additional square feet of gallery space at Dia Beacon will be opened, and the climate control systems for The New York Earth Room and The Broken Kilometer will be overhauled so the works can remain open all year. These physical updates to buildings Dia owns are planned to use less than 25% of the funds raised from the capital campaign.
Locations and sites
Dia Beacon, Riggio Galleries
Dia Beacon, Riggio Galleries in Beacon, New York, is located in a former printing plant built in 1929 by Nabisco. When it opened in 2003 with 160,000 square feet (15,000 m2) of exhibition space, it became one of the largest museums to open in the United States since the Museum of Modern Art opened in the late 1930s.
Each gallery was designed specifically for the art it contains. The space is limited to the works of 25 artists, including:
- Andy Warhol's 1978–79 multipart work Shadows, which wraps around the walls of a single big room;
- selections from Dan Flavin's series of fluorescent light monuments to V. Tatlin (1964–81), displayed in a room the size of a football field;
- Richard Serra's monumental steel sculptures Torqued Ellipses; and
- Michael Heizer's North, East, South, West (1967/2002).
Dia collaborated with Robert Irwin and architect OpenOffice to formulate the plan for the museum building and its exterior setting. The grounds include an entrance court, and parking lot with a grove of flowering fruit trees and a formal garden, both of which were designed by Irwin.
According to The New York Times, it cost $50 million to build, with Leonard Riggio contributing at least $35 million of that amount; the remainder of the construction funds came from the Lannan Foundation ($10 million), Ann Tenenbaum and her husband Thomas H. Lee ($2.5 million), among others. As of 2007 its annual operating costs are about $3 million a year.
Dia Bridgehampton, previously known as the Dan Flavin Art Institute, is a museum in Bridgehampton, New York opened in 1983 to houses nine fluorescent light works by Dan Flavin on permanent display. Besides the permanent exhibit there is also a gallery for temporary exhibitions and a display on the history of the building.
In October 1987, when Dia Chelsea opened its main space, it attracted about 16,000 to 17,000 visitors a year. Before it closed for renovations in February 2004, attendance had grown to about 60,000. The extent of the repairs needed prompted the foundation to sell the building for $38.55 million in December 2007.
Dia began as an institution dedicated to supporting long-term projects by living artists, and for several years, it was trying to raise money to build a space for such endeavors in Manhattan, after outgrowing its two locations on West 22nd Street in Chelsea and closing them in 2004. The foundation's board abandoned plans on opening a museum at the entrance to the High Line in 2006 after losing its longtime director, Michael Govan, and its chairman and benefactor, Leonard Riggio.
In November 2009 Dia's Director, Philippe Vergne, announced plans to reopen in Chelsea on West 22nd Street. In 2011, after years of negotiations, Dia bought the former Alcamo Marble building at 541 West 22nd Street, located between its former space at No. 545 and its existing six-story building at No. 535, for $11.5 million. Inside, these three existing brick buildings will be woven together to create three interconnected galleries on the ground floor. According to plans, the new Dia, designed by architect Roger Duffy, will include 15,670 square feet of gallery space and 3,625 square feet of rooftop for outdoor exhibitions like Dan Graham's Rooftop Urban Park Project (1991), an architectural pavilion fashioned from two-way mirrored glass that was originally installed on the roof of No. 548.
In 2015, incoming Dia Director Jessica Morgan reactivated three properties already owned by Dia in Chelsea at 535, 541 and 545 West 22nd Street, including re-launching the space at 545 West 22nd Street with an exhibition of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. From September 2016, Hauser & Wirth took over the old four-story space at 548 West 22nd Street as a temporary home while constructing its new building at no. 542. To adapt the space, the gallery enlisted Annabelle Selldorf.
In 2018, Dia announced a multi-year plan to revitalize its programmatic sites, including the renovation of Dia's current spaces at West 22nd Street to create a unified, 32,500-square-foot facility, including 20,000 square feet of integrated, street-level exhibition and programming space across their three contiguous buildings. The new, renovated Dia Chelsea will open in Fall 2020 and will present exhibitions, public programs and lectures, and will return Dia’s bookstore to Chelsea.
Over Dia's first ten years, its founders assembled a collection of a select group of artists. Among those whose work was commissioned and collected at that time are Joseph Beuys, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo, Fred Sandback, Cy Twombly, Robert Whitman, and La Monte Young. In 1979 the Dia Art Foundation acquired Shadows (1978–79), the monumental painting installation by Andy Warhol consisting of 102 canvases, as a single entity from the artist during its inaugural exhibition at the Heiner Friedrich Gallery in New York.
In 1991 Dia gave the Menil Collection in Houston six of its best works by Twombly in anticipation of the Twombly Gallery that opened there in 1995. In anticipation of the opening of Dia Beacon, Dia augmented its core collection with focused acquisitions. The first of these was made in 1997, when Board Chairman Leonard Riggio and his family gave the Foundation three sculptures from Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses series (1996–97), sculptures created for an exhibition at Dia Chelsea; it was the first acquisition for Dia's permanent collection in over ten years, a $2 million purchase made by Riggio. With support from the Lannan Foundation, the artists themselves, and others, the collection has expanded with gifts, purchases, and long-term loans of works by other artists from that same generation—Bernd and Hilla Becher, Louise Bourgeois, Hanne Darboven, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Robert Smithson, and Lawrence Weiner—as well as additional works by artists already represented.
In recent years, Dia has focused on broadening its collection to spotlight a more diverse and international mix of artists. Female artists who have been added to the permanent collection include Mary Corse, Nancy Holt, Dorothea Rockburne, Michelle Stuart and Anne Truitt. In 2017, Dia acquired work by Kishio Suga and Lee Ufan, bringing seminal work from the 1960s Mono-ha movement in Japan into the collection to promote greater understanding of work being made internationally during this period. In 2017, Robert Ryman, a key Dia artist, donated 21 of his works to the institution, making Dia's Ryman holdings unparalleled in any other public collection.
In 1985, Dia Art Foundation for the first time auctioned off 18 works at Sotheby's, including pieces by Cy Twombly and Barnett Newman, for $1.3 million. In 2013, the foundation announced its plan to sell another group of paintings and sculptures — including pieces by Twombly, Chamberlain and Barnett Newman — at Sotheby's, this time hoping to raise at least $20 million for an acquisition budget and to pay for 30 works that have been on long-term loan to Dia from the Lannan Foundation. In response, founders Heiner Friedrich and Fariha de Menil filed suit in New York Supreme Court, seeking an injunction against the foundation and Sotheby's while raising the possibility that some of the works might not be legally owned by Dia but constitute long-term loans from the Friedrichs. However, the lawsuit was dropped shortly after, and the consigned works raised $38.4 million.
Long-term and affiliated projects
Michael Govan, the former director of Dia under whose direction Dia Beacon was constructed, estimates that before Philippa de Menil's family forced her to sharply cut back on funding—an act precipitated by the 1980s oil glut's effect on the Schlumberger fortune—Dia spent "at least $40 million" on a series of installations that Dia continues to maintain.
Among those 1970s and early 1980s projects are works by Walter De Maria, including The Lightning Field (1977), near Quemado, New Mexico; and The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), in New York City. In addition, Dia maintains the Dan Flavin Art Institute, a former church in Bridgehampton, New York converted in the 1980s into an installation of works by Flavin. The installation of work by Donald Judd and John Chamberlain, in Marfa, Texas, was begun by Judd; Dia gave the project $4 million between 1980 and 1986, before cutting off the financial support due to Dia's financial crisis; a lawsuit threatened by Judd led to the establishment of the Chinati Foundation with support from Dia.
The Dia Art Foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization. Current programs are supported in part by funds from the members of the Board of Trustees, foundations (such as the Lannan Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts), and other friends of the institution. As of 2013, Dia' endowment stands at around $55 million.
Board of Trustees
Among others, the Dia Art Foundation's board includes collectors Frances Bowes and Howard Rachofsky. Under new director Jessica Morgan's leadership, the Greek shipping magnate George Economou, investor and philanthropist Jeffrey Perelman, and Ra Hee Hong Lee, Irene Panagopoulos, Jane Skinner and James Murdoch joined. Artist trustees have included Brice Marden, Robert Ryman, and George Condo.
- Randy Kennedy (September 10, 2014), Dia Art Foundation Appoints a Tate Modern Curator as Its Director The New York Times.
- Nocera, Joe (October 14, 2007). "The Patron Gets a Divorce". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- Bob Colacello (September 1996), Remains of the Dia Vanity Fair.
- Glueck, Grace (October 3, 1989). "To Get His Museum, Opening in '92". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
- Hoban, Phoebe. Medicis for a Moment: The Collapse of the Dia Dream. New York Magazine. November 25, 1985. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
- About Dia. Dia Art Foundation. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Kimmelman, Michael. (September 15, 1996), At Dia, Fresh Wounds and a Fresh Start The New York Times. September 15, 1996. Retrieved August 22, 2020
- Anne Barnard (August 13, 2010), In Lower Manhattan, 2 Mosques Have Firm Roots The New York Times.
- Glueck, Grace. Dia Foundation, Back From Brink, Opens New Center. New York Times. October 7, 1987. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
- Goldstein, Andrew. Is It Time for a Land Art Renaissance? Jessica Morgan on Her Ambitious Vision for Dia in New York and Far, Far Beyond. Artnet. May 17, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Goldstein, Andrew.‘There Were Women Working Then, Too’: How Dia Director Jessica Morgan Is Breaking Open the (Male) Canon of Postwar Art. Artnet. May 15, 2019. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Dafoe, Taylor. Dia Is Consolidating Its Little-Known Real Estate Empire in New York to Create a Major New Art Facility in Chelsea. Artnet. May 6, 2019. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
- Halperin, Julia. Dia Owns More Art Spaces Than You Think, and Now They’re Spending $78 Million to Run Them All Better. Artnet. June 5, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
- Dia Bridgehampton. Dia Art Foundation. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
- Saltz, Jerry, "Remembering Dia, at the End of an Era", vulture.com, March 12, 2010. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- Carol Vogel (May 9, 2005). "Dia Art Foundation Plans an Upscale Move". The New York Times.
- "Dia Leaving Chelsea—Gallery Granddaddy Sells Building for $38.5 M." The New York Observer. December 11, 2007. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
The museum, housed in a four-story brick building, closed for renovations in 2004 but never reopened due to the extent of repairs needed. [Dia's director, Jeffrey] Weiss said he was pleased by the high sales price, and said the money will be invested and likely used to purchase its next space.
- Carol Vogel (October 25, 2006). "Dia Art Foundation Calls Off Museum Project". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
- Carol Vogel (November 5, 2009). "Dia Plans to Return to Its Chelsea Roots". The New York Times.
- Carol Vogel (May 24, 2012). "Dia Outlines New Plan for Building in Chelsea". The New York Times.
- Anny Shaw (September 29, 2015), Dia abandons previous plans for new building in Chelsea The Art Newspaper.
- Robin Pogrebin (June 9, 2016), Hauser & Wirth Gallery to Take Over Former Dia Space in Chelsea The New York Times.
- "Dia to Revitalize Its Constellation of Sites". Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- Foundation, Dia Art. "Dia | About | Dia Reveals Comprehensive, Multi-Year Plan to Strengthen Mission And Revitalize its Constellation of Sites in New York". www.diaart.org. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- "Andy Warhol: Shadows", September 25, 2011 – January 15, 2012 Archived July 10, 2012, at Archive.today Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
- Carol Vogel (June 27, 2013), Dia Foundation to Sell Works to Start Acquisition Fund The New York Times.
- "Mary Corse and Dorothea Rockburne get their due at Dia Beacon". www.theartnewspaper.com. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- "Dia Acquires 'Sun Tunnels,' Its First Piece of Land Art by a Woman". Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- "Mary Corse and Dorothea Rockburne get their due at Dia Beacon". www.theartnewspaper.com. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- Foundation, Dia Art. "Dia | Program | Michelle Stuart". www.diaart.org. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- Battaglia, Andy (2017-02-02). "Dia Art Foundation Acquires Anne Truitt Works". ARTnews. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- Twersky, Carolyn (2017-07-10). "Dia Art Foundation Acquires Works by Lee Ufan and Kishio Suga". ARTnews. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- Foundation, Dia Art. "Dia | About | Dia Art Foundation Adds Works by Lee Ufan and Kishio Suga to Its Collection". www.diaart.org. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- Foundation, Dia Art. "Dia | About | Dia Art Foundation Receives Historic Gift from Robert Ryman and The Greenwich Collection, Ltd". www.diaart.org. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
- Randy Kennedy (November 12, 2013), Dia's Auction of Artworks Is to Proceed The New York Times.
- FILED: NEW YORK COUNTY CLERK 11/07/2013 New York Supreme Court.
- Randy Kennedy (November 7, 2013), 2 Founders of Dia Sue to Stop Art Auction The New York Times.
- Katya Kazakina and Philip Boroff (November 14, 2013), Warhol 'Crash', Steve Cohen's Richter Lift Sotheby's Sale Bloomberg.
- Walter De Maria The Lightning Field
- Walter De Maria The New York Earth Room
- Walter De Maria The Broken Kilometer
- Glueck, Grace (October 7, 1987). "Dia Foundation, Back From Brink, Opens New Center". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
Dia had supported the installation from 1980 to 1986 with more than $4 million. When it withdrew from the project, Mr. Judd threatened a lawsuit, contending the foundation had reneged on some provisions of a contract. As a way to avert the threatened lawsuit, an independent entity called the Chinati Foundation was set up, to raise funds on its own. Under this arrangement, Dia has contributed its art and real-estate interests in Marfa, along with nearly $800,000 over five years to complete certain projects.
- Ted Loos (October 18, 2013), Sotheby's Magazine: Dia Goes Back To The Future Sotheby's.
- "Dia Elects Six New Members to Its Board of Trustees". R+A. 2018-05-04. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
- Graham Bowley and Judith H. Dobrzynski (March 19, 2015), New Dia Trustees The New York Times.
- Randy Kennedy (March 1, 2016), Dia Art Foundation Adds Two Board Members The New York Times.
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