With their physical spaces closed, large galleries have started to respond philanthropically to the coronavirus crisis. This past Friday, David Zwirner announced it would share its online viewing room with a selection of invited small galleries. On Wednesday, Hauser & Wirth gallery—one of the biggest enterprises of its kind, with locations in nine cities on three continents—announced a new initiative through which it will dedicate a portion of sales to coronavirus-related causes.
The first step in the new program, called #artforbetter, entails the donation of 10 percent of the gallery’s profits from all future online exhibitions to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which aids countries in preventing, detecting, and responding to the pandemic.
By profits, a gallery representative clarified, Hauser & Wirth means their share of any proceeds beyond what is paid to the artist for his or her work. So Hauser & Wirth will give the WHO 10 percent of its gross margin on any sales of works featured in the online viewing room whether those sales take place during the viewing period or not.
Further philanthropic activities associated with #artforbetter will be announced, according to the gallery, over the following weeks and months, and that the program will continue beyond the Covid-19 crisis.
The first virtual weekly exhibition to be utilized in the new initiative will be “George Condo: Drawings for Distanced Figures,” which goes online later this week. The drawings by Condo, who joined Hauser & Wirth’s stable earlier this year, are priced at $125,000 each.
In a statement, gallery principal Iwan Wirth said, “These critical times demand a charitable response. We see ourselves as members of a worldwide community, and our support of the World Health Organization is a way to participate in an immediate humanitarian effort that supersedes borders.”
Online viewing rooms have proven a popular tactic for galleries and fairs while the pandemic has forced many art spaces to close. Fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Dubai have allowed exhibitors to show in them after canceling this year’s editions.