Bard News & Events

Press Release

CCS Bard Receives Gift of $500,000 from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Main gallery in CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum to be named in Mapplethorpe’s honor

Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY, March 20, 2012 The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) has announced that it is the recipient of a $500,000 gift from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. The gift will be used to help support CCS Bard’s 20th Anniversary Next Decade campaign, which aims to raise funds over the next ten years to maintain the school’s internationally-renowned, world-class faculty and research and exhibition center, while reducing the financial burden on its students. In recognition of this gift, one of the three principal galleries in CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum of Art will be named The Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery. The official naming took place on March 17, 2012, at the start of CCS Bard’s 20th anniversary year calendar.

“I attended the opening celebrations for the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard twenty years ago,” says Michael Ward Stout, President of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, “I was aware of Marieluise Hessel’s extraordinary and dynamic dedication to the visual arts through her close association with Robert Mapplethorpe and her early support of his work. When the CCS Bard was founded, it was a unique program in the world. Under the extraordinary leadership of Leon Botstein and Tom Eccles, it has become an internationally-respected program, which refines, expands and develops the curator’s role in the presentation of art. The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation has long supported CCS Bard, and it is only appropriate that we recognize its twenty years of excellence with this gift.”

“CCS Bard is honored to be the recipient of this very generous gift from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation,” says Tom Eccles, Executive Director of CCS Bard. “This gift will help enable us to meet our goals with the CCS Bard 20th Anniversary Next Decade campaign and help us provide the highest quality of education for all students. With the campaign, CCS Bard looks towards the future of curatorial education with enthusiasm and excitement.”

Now recognized as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Robert Mapplethorpe, and his work, were pivotal in raising significant issues about the meaning of art in the context of censorship, freedom of speech, and government funding for the arts. It was in recognition of the significance and impact of his work that CCS Bard co-founder Marieluise Hessel first acquired photographs by Mapplethorpe for her collection beginning in the early 1980s. These works – now part of CCS Bard’s Hessel Collection – comprise over 80 classic images, one of the largest collections of Mapplethorpe photographs in the world.

CCS Bard’s exhibition, Matters of Fact, will include a selection of Mapplethorpe’s black and white photographs of flowers, accompanied by a 1988 audio recording of a conversation between the artist and Marieluise Hessel. Recorded nine months before Mapplethorpe died of AIDS, the intimate conversation raises questions of objectification and abstraction, race and representation, and desire and gender. It also touches on Hessel’s quest to acquire Mapplethorpe’s controversial X Portfolio and her intention to one day build a museum to house her collection. Matters of Fact is the first major exhibition of CCS Bard’s 20th anniversary year, and it will be on view at the Hessel Museum of Art from March 18 through May 27, 2012.

About The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc. was established by the artist in 1988, a year before his death. In establishing the Foundation’s philanthropic mandate, Mapplethorpe targeted the two areas of his greatest concern: support of medical research in the area of HIV/AIDS, and the promotion of photography as a fine art form deserving the same prominence as painting and sculpture. In keeping with its founder’s wishes, the Mapplethorpe Foundation has spent millions of dollars to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV infection by establishing research and care centers at major medical facilities such as Harvard University and Beth Israel in New York.

In the field of photography, the Foundation has funded numerous publications on photography, supported exhibitions and acquisitions at various art institutions and provided grants—in the form of funding or gifts of original Mapplethorpe works—to qualified art institutions, ranging from the world’s major art museums to small university galleries.

In addition to its charitable work, the Foundation works to maintain Mapplethorpe’s artistic legacy by organizing and/or lending to Mapplethorpe exhibitions around the world, preserving his archive of lifetime editioned prints, strictly maintaining the editions he established and placing his work in important collections around the world.

The Foundation retains extensive holdings of Mapplethorpe works, both editioned and unique, and will continue to make sales of art to fund its charitable endeavors, to lend and donate Mapplethorpe works in support of exhibitions and museums around the world and to manage and license the Mapplethorpe copyrights and other intellectual property.

About the Center for Curatorial Studies
The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) is an exhibition, education, and research center dedicated to the study of art and curatorial practices from the 1960s to the present day.

In addition to the CCS Bard Galleries and Hessel Museum of Art, the Center houses the Marieluise Hessel Collection, as well as an extensive library and curatorial archives that are accessible to the public. The Center’s two-year M.A. program in curatorial studies is specifically designed to deepen students’ understanding of the intellectual and practical tasks of curating contemporary art. Exhibitions are presented year-round in the CCS Bard Galleries and Hessel Museum of Art, providing students with the opportunity to work with world-renowned artists and curators. The exhibition program and the Hessel Collection also serve as the basis for a wide range of public programs and activities exploring art and its role in contemporary society.

The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College opened its doors in 1992. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012, CCS Bard will present a series of exhibitions by students as well as a roster of international artists working in a range of practices.

General information on the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College can be found on its newly re-launched website at:

# # #

MEDIA CONTACTS:            

For further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact:                                   

Elizabeth Reina-Longoria or Deirdre Maher
Blue Medium                                                          
Tel: +1 (212) 675-1800
E: or


Mark Primoff, Director of Communications
Tel: +1 845.758.7412      


Ramona Rosenberg, External Affairs Manager
Tel: +1 (845) 758-7574 

back to top

This event was last updated on 03-20-2012