Bomb Magazine Plans $15 M. Endowment Campaign

The Spring 2009 issue of Bomb, number 107, with an image by Joyce Pensato on its cover


At its annual gala tonight at Capitale in New York, Betsy Sussler, the editor-in-chief of Bomb magazine, told a crowd of supporters that the organization is embarking on a plan to raise $15 million over the next three years for an endowment dubbed the Future Fund.

A total of 25 artists and estates, including Jasper Johns, Vik Muniz, R. H. Quaytman, and Amy Sillman, have said that they will help support the cause. Beginning this fall Christie’s will auction works provided by some of the artists to benefit Bomb, whose activities include a print quarterly, a website, an oral history project devoted to African-American artists, and other publishing ventures. Additional works will be sold privately.

Before tonight’s event, Sussler, who cofounded Bomb in 1981 with Sarah Charlesworth, Glenn O’Brien, Michael McClard, and Mark Magill, with Liza Béar serving as an as adviser, said that the new fund “will formalize a safety net, which we have never had before. Thinking this far into the future assures the long-term survival of these essential primary-source, artists’ conversations and their continuous creation in perpetuity.”

The endowment model for art magazines is somewhat unusual, though not unheard of. In 2002, Poetry magazine famously revised a $100 million gift from an Eli Lilly heir, Ruth Lilly, which now funds its operation, and looking at the broader publishing field, Harper’s is funded by the privately endowed Harper’s Magazine Foundation.

The endowment will not replace Bomb’s other fundraising activities, Sussler said before the gala, noting that the organization “has sustained itself since our founding because we pursue funding from many sources, from advertising and subscriptions to foundation and government grant support, as well as our galas.”

The full lineup of artists and estates involved in supporting the campaign are as follows: Ross Bleckner, Carroll Dunham, Eric Fischl, Mary Heilmann, Jasper Johns, Barbara Kruger, Chris Martin, Vik Muniz, Thomas Nozkowski, Joyce Pensato, Raymond Pettibon, Ellen Phelan, Richard Prince, R. H. Quaytman, Ugo Rondinone, the late James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Joel Shapiro, Amy Sillman, the Estate of David Smith, Kiki Smith, Pat Steir, Stanley Whitney, the late Jack Whitten, and one anonymous donor.

Speaking of Whitten, I strongly encourage you to read his 2014 interview with Ed Clark, which took place as part Bomb‘s oral history project, and which remains one of the most rollicking and illuminating conversations between two artists that I have ever read.

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