From the Archive: The Gottlieb Foundation Begins Operation, 1976
Throughout their lives, Adolph and Esther were known among their friends and colleagues as people who would help out in times of need.
When Adolph Gottlieb passed away in 1974 he left instructions in his will for a foundation to be created to benefit "mature, creative painters and sculptors." Esther saw to the execution of his will, and served as the founding President of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation until her death in 1988.
This October, the Gottlieb Foundation celebrates 42 years of operation. Executive Director Sanford Hirsch, who has worked for The Gottlieb Foundation since its inception, offers the following recollection about its early days:
When the Gottlieb Foundation was being organized there were several challenges that had to be addressed almost immediately. These included how to manage a collection of an artist’s work and archives extending back over 50 years, how to devise and operate an equitable grant program for individual artists, what relationships between the Foundation and other professional organizations would look like. At the time, there were no artist-endowed foundations charged with the mission of funding individual artists, so there was no effective model to follow.
To get to answers on these defining issues the conversation shifted to the larger question of what this foundation’s organizing principles would be and what greater purpose could be served. We determined that the thing that separated the Gottlieb Foundation from others was that it reflected the life and legacy of an individual artist. We determined to organize our programs and activities in such a way as to make our primary consideration the promotion of, and respect for, the concerns of individual artists.