Creative Capital and Los Angeles Review of Books Look Back on 20 Years of Groundbreaking Art

Creative Capital has always focused on helping artists make their most ambitious work a reality, providing support and resources for realizing their creative visions and achieving long-term success, however each artist defines it. That means that since Creative Capital was founded in 1999, we have advocated for two decades’ worth of artistic work with a fierce commitment to freedom of expression. It’s been no small feat—through the Creative Capital Award, we have given over $45 million dedicated to 561 projects by 700 artists across the country.

With that in mind, Creative Capital has invited 12 arts writers to explore key moments in the history of the Creative Capital Award in celebration of our 20th anniversary. The essays include a variety of voices and subjects, looking at many of the projects we have supported that proved groundbreaking and prescient, reflecting and responding to a world in a constant state of flux.

Creative Capital is pleased to partner with Los Angeles Review of Books who will publish these essays once a month. Johanna Fateman, writer and awardee, begins with a look at the year 2000, the significance of the launch of Creative Capital, what it meant for avant-garde artists who were making “unmarketable” work in a country that was hesitant to support them.

Read the essay

Fateman writes,

“Creative Capital’s impulse to recast arts philanthropy as venture capitalism (albeit a patient and forgiving strain of it) was implicitly tied to the radical, democratizing promises of the internet—its potential for the free, DIY, networked distribution of artworks; its opportunities for gender- and color-blind interaction (lol); its infinite capacity for niche marketing—as well as the seductive techno-progressivism of startup culture. The organization was innovative in its aim to pair funding with professional support so that artists might develop financially sustainable, self-sufficient careers in the online era…

Web-based, new media works like Leah Gilliam’s—or Maya Churi’s interactive narrative Letters from Homeroom, Alison Cornryn’s and Sue Johnson’s, and Betty Blount’s cyber companion to her groundbreaking underwater, environmental sculpture Ocean Landmark—would never be supported by the existing gallery system, nor could they expect to be presented in traditional institutional settings, and so, it seemed, a new kind of market must be on the horizon. This kind of thing was easy to believe during the dot-com bubble I guess, which burst right around the time these artists received their Creative Capital checks.”


Stay tuned in the following months for 11 more essays looking at Creative Capital Awardees and Projects over the past two decades.

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